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By Erbin Crowell

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By Erin Rice and Lisa Stolarski

The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) held its first "Workweek" in New Orleans (NOLA), after the "Democracy at Work" conference this past June. Twenty-two cooperators stayed for four days after the conference and volunteered their time, energy and skills to local organizations and individuals who expressed interest in cooperatives and cooperative development.

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By Len Krimerman, GEO

I went to the Green Union Coop Development Initiative workshop at the "Democracy at Work" Conference in New Orleans (June, 2008) with very high hopes. Somehow, the Conference organizers had managed to bring together, in a large and over-filled room, committed and inventive practitioners from the labor union, cooperative, and green economy movements. The speakers spoke with clarity and passion about:

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By Yvon Poirier
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By Lauren Kozol 

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by Jim Johnson, GEO Collective

Past issues of GEO have reported on the emergence of a particular type of worker cooperative, the home care cooperative. In the 1980s, the federal government followed the lead of state governments like Wisconsin and acknowledged that elderly and disabled people who need help in day-to-day living are best served by in-home assistance. Medicare and Medicaid funding that would have otherwise been used only for nursing homes would now be applicable to home care services.

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By Josh Lerner
Originally published by the Movement Vision Lab.

 

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People's Grocery is making speedy progress from a mobile organic food service cooperative towards developing a worker-owned cooperative grocery store in West Oakland in which local food and sustainable agriculture will be prioritized in a community health model centered on nutrition education for low-income residents of the community. At the same time, the cooperative is taking their business development goal beyond the single cooperative grocery store to a broader community development initiative focused on establishing a commercial and health service complex.
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By Len Krimerman

In 1995, the International Cooperative Alliance adopted seven cooperative principles to define and guide cooperatives throughout the world. Briefly stated, the "traditional seven" include: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for community.

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By Lisa Stolarski

Both Hands in the Soil

There is an ethical imperative to shift the balance of economic power away from corporate Capitalism and toward economies that benefit us all. Beginning with this assumption, I will explain how it is possible for unions and worker cooperatives to collaborate strategically to take market share away from absentee-owned and wage labor capitalist enterprises and place control of resources and production in the hands of communities of working people.

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As labor organizers, we struggle in the field every day to improve the lives of workers; we are in search of tools and alternatives for working people that will meet the needs of today's casualized and insecure workforce, with shrinking or negligible benefits. It is in the spirit of innovative leadership that we propose that the labor movement use worker cooperatives, an alternative organizing strategy added to more traditional labor organizing methods, as a means of returning control of their lives to the American working people.
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While empathizing with those who feel a sense of "inevitability" in the face of today's powerful capitalist economy (and disagreeing with those who see it as generally acceptable), I hold firmly to the perspective that a more just and democratic economy is both necessary and possible. And I believe that the greatest chance of increasing and assuring viability for the workplace democracy movement may rest in our ability to keep our "eyes on the prize"; that is, on the long term replacement of capitalism?an economy which socializes costs and privatizes benefits?with an economy of democratic cooperation?in which costs and benefits are democratically and equitably shared throughout society.
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If in 2001 the World Social Forum was "the birthplace of global civil society"-namely all social groupings between the public realm of the state and the private realm of the family-what should it be when that society grows up a bit? Many feel that a change is needed. Explaining her absence from the 2006 WSF, Arundhati Roy said "[it] has now become very NGO-ized [non-governmental organizations]...it's just become too comfortable a stage. I think it has played a very important role up to now, but now...I think we have to come up with new strategies."
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By Rob Brown, IHA office manager, and Bethany Schroeder, IHA board president

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By John Zippert, Federation of Souther Cooperatives

From August 16-18, 2007, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund will celebrate its fortieth (40th) anniversary and Annual Meeting. Growing from 22 cooperatives and credit unions organized by SNCC, CORE, SCLC and other civil rights organizations in the South in the 1960's, the Federation has worked with thousands of Black farmers and other low income rural folks over the past four decades.

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By Len Krimerman and Bob Stone, GEO Collective

LEN: As folks head towards the very first US Social Forum in Atlanta questions arise: other than convening a rich mosaic of progressive organizations and activists, does the social forum movement have a mission to bring about "another world," and, if not, should it now adopt a strategy for doing so?

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Interview by Jessica Gordon Nembhard

Shakoor Aljuwani is an organizer with the Home Coming Center in New Orleans. GEO Newsletter's Jessica Gordon Nembhard interviewed him in April 2007 about his work and progress with helping low-income residents return to New Orleans and rebuild their homes and neighborhoods.

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By Matt Feinstein

For a total of twelve months between 2003 and 2005, I lived and worked with the Unemployed Workers' Movement of Solano (MTD-Solano) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was an experience that fundamentally changed the way I think about community organizing and activism; I continue to search for ways to put those ideas into practice. This article is an attempt to share these experiences, and to let you know about a new video-workshop tool that aims to deepen the exchange between organizers around the world.

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By Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis

On March 19, 2003, we were on the roof of the Zanon ceramic tile factory, filming an interview with Cepillo. He was showing us how the workers fended off eviction by armed police, defending their democratic workplace with slingshots and the little ceramic balls normally used to pound the Patagonian clay into raw material for tiles. His aim was impressive. It was the day the bombs started falling on Baghdad.

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