United States

In the recent series on his blog, The Workers' Paradise ,McNamara is very strong on the possibility of the cooperative movement being able to move to scale.  But he wisely directs our attention to the big problems this is going to bring, problems that are already burdening cooperatives.  The primary one he refers to is “the agency problem” (which is pretty much what I mean by “top/down problem”).

Thank you, John McNamara for advancing the conversation about the opportunities, issues, and problems of taking the cooperative advantage to scale.
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At the conclusion of the seminar, Mondragon's Director of Cooperative Dissemination, Mikel Lezamiz, and I signed a letter of intent and endorsement to pave the way for initiating conversations with stakeholders in Richmond and beyond.  I want to share with you what I learned and also hear your ideas.
To this end I would like to invite all who are interested to a presentation and discussion on Mondragon and the potential for worker cooperatives in Richmond.  The same presentation will be given on two dates...
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John Howard Griffin is best known today as the author of Black Like Me, which tells of his 1959 journey through the American South disguised as a black man. But there is much more to Griffin than that extraordinary experiment in race relations. As a new documentary shows, John Howard Griffin possessed an uncommon vision of our shared humanity, and spent his life in a fearless search for truth.
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...Atkinson brings to life the poignant irony of a blind man returning to the land of vision to show how those like you and me with normal, take-it-for-granted vision can and do manipulate our vision to see what we want and are conditioned to see without seeing that that is what we are doing.  And that we do this regardless of our race, color, culture, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

Below is a report from Steve Rice (volunteer with the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives  [NoBAWC]), Poonam Whabi (Design Action Collective), and Rick Simon (Just Alternatives for a Sustainable Economy) on the Worker Co-operative component of the Congress.  This component calls on local government to...

 

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San Francisco Community Congress: background and update

(EDITOR’S NOTE: A very interesting grassroots development happening in SanFrancisco: The San Francisco Community Congress.The goal is to devise practical, locally actionable proposals to shape and direct future policy affecting the local economy and the provision of critical human services.”  Their mantra, “another San Francisco is possible.”  If the devil is in the details, then this appears to be the beginning of a premier Solidarity Economy project.

GEO is...
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An article in The Nation magazine tells how Boston's Green Justice Coalition is creating "a model to connect the struggle for environmental justice with the fight for living-wage jobs, helping to lay the groundwork for a new generation of community-labor coalitions across the country."
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The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund on August 19, 2010 honored Alice Walker in Birmingham, AL at its annual dinner attended by more than 400 people.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author and self-proclaimed "daughter of the rural peasantry" was presented the Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement award by FSC Executive Director Ralph Paige. The largely black organization of farmer cooperatives works to save and preserve black-owned farmlands. 

How do we create a competitive advantage through the worker coop model when we treat ourselves so much better than the workers in our industry and pay for the higher cost of democracy?

One of the great treats at a national worker coop conference is to learn about the incredible stories that exist. It is easy, sitting in our cooperatives at home, to imagine a world where we are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then we come to a conference and get our mind blown--not just once, or twice, but several times.

The Evergreen cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio was the story everyone wanted to hear at the opening session on Saturday Aug. 7, 2010 of the U.S. Federation for Worker Cooperatives conference in Berkeley. 

The mascot of the Alvarado Street Bakery (ASB) is an orange and black cat, with a swinging tail and a sly grin. Perhaps his feisty smile is the result of good working conditions. ASB is the worker owned and run cooperative featured in Michael Moore’s recent film Capitalism: A Love Story as an example of economic democracy. ASB is based in Petaluma, California, but ships nationally through their website. In this interview, Joseph Tuck of ASB tells The Socialist about the company’s practices.

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From grocery stores and bakeries to bike shops and day care centers, worker-owned cooperatives are gaining popularity across the country. How are they faring in the recession? What solutions do co-ops offer for today’s recession/depression? If they gain even more popularity, could they transform the economy and the way we think it should work?

Guests include Dan Thomases, a founding member of Box Dog Bikes co-op, John Kusakabe of the Arizmendi Bakery co-op, and Hilary Abell of Women's Action to Gain Economic Security (WAGES).

 

 


 

 

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WAGES is being used as a model by Mexican and Central American immigrants to create their own jobs. Minsun Ji, El Centro Humanitario's executive director in Denver, CO, said when they contacted WAGES to be able to adapt the WAGES strategy locally: "We were so desperate. There were no jobs. We were really, really desperate."

I still have a few more posts on the National Worker Cooperative Conference held in Berkeley last week, but this post isn't about the specific workshops, but a general feeling and vibe that I found at the conference (and at other conferences). The work of building a cooperative society isn't quite like other trade associations or business cultures.

We are not going to become the solution any time soon, but I believe that we have the opportunity to achieve a lot, like laying down a foundational strategy and infrastructure open to diverse approaches for the generation to come.
The mascot of the Alvarado Street Bakery (ASB) is an
orange and black cat, with a swinging tail and a sly
grin. Perhaps his feisty smile is the result of good
working conditions.
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A new video interview with Jim Hightower on "unemployment and worker cooperatives."

Watch it here!

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