Stranger things...

Three years ago we set out to make it possible for communities to own their energy. And boy did we run into some strange things along the way!

Before introducing those peculiarities, first some background: If people could own their energy, they’d be more secure - both financially and infrastructurally. We could save money and increase our ability to bounce back after natural disasters by producing clean, decentralized energy in our own communities. If ordinary people could put their money toward renewables, instead of investing in fossil fuels on Wall Street, we’d also speed up our response to climate change.

Wall St to Cooperative St

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CA Farmer Equity Act Signed Into Law

Sacramento, California – Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that would require California officials to focus on and address the challenges facing farmers of color in the state by making access to state and federal resources more equitable. This comes at a critical moment as the current generation of farmers is retiring and new farmers are increasingly represented by people of color, including immigrants and refugees.

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Transforming Nonprofits: A movement is growing! Event Tomorrow!

If we don’t want our organizations and movements to replicate the oppressive power dynamics of the dominant culture, let’s design for the power relations we do want. This week, we are incredibly excited to host nearly 40 people from 17 social justice organizations from across the country for the three-day launch of the Nonprofit Democracy Network - a community of practice, organizational development training program, and peer support network for nonprofit organizations that want to deepen democracy within their organizations and make our movements for justice more participatory, responsive, and leaderful.

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Join Us September 10-13 in Monterey, CA for ComCap17


The Sustainable Economies Law Center (Law Center) is proud to be a sponsor of ComCap17, a national conference on community capital being held in Monterey, CA, September 10-13, 2017. Leaders and changemakers in the community capital movement will come together in Monterey to discuss and share knowledge, tools, and strategies for harnessing the collective wealth of a community and increasing access to capital.

Check out the conference schedule to see all of the exciting and timely topics on the conference agenda. For example, our Executive Director, Janelle Orsi, is a keynote speaker and will talk about The New Meaning of Equity, and our State Policy Director, Christina Oatfield, will be participating in a working group titled Why California Doesn't Have A Crowdfunding Law? Let's Make it Happen. Janelle and Christina will both be participating in a panel discussion on Financing the Legal Food Economy-Farms to Fisheries. And that is not all--the Law Center is holding a Community Capital and Legal Cafe, modeled off our popular Resilient Communities Legal Cafe, during which participants will have an opportunity to chat with us about raising community capital for their community-based or cooperative enterprise ideas.

We are excited that so many of our collaborators and supporters are scheduled to be there too, including: Marco Vangelisti, Founder of Essential Knowledge for Transition; Kim Arnone, Brian Beckon, and John Katovich from Cutting Edge Capital; Michael Shuman, Economist, Author, and Law Center Advisor; Arno Hesse, Founder of Credibles, Amy Cortese, Author and Founder of; and many more.

Feeling inspired to hear and connect with this jam-packed schedule of speakers? Come join us in Monterey, CA, September 10-13, 2017.

Get 25% off the full conference pass when you purchase your ticket HERE!




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Can Community Capital Finance the Next Generation of Farmers?

By Christina Oatfield, Policy Director //

After the 2008 economic recession, banks were more conservative about lending and the general public was more aware of the flaws in our financial institutions and related regulations. Since then, small businesses, start-ups, nonprofits, investors, and ordinary folks with modest savings have shown growing interest in fundraising strategies such as crowdfunding, crowdinvesting, direct public offerings (DPOs), and community capital. These strategies all involve raising money from a large number of supporters, through donations or investment dollars from the business owner's friends and family, customers, and members of the broader community who wan8990215169_23df5741d9_q.jpgt the business to succeed. Community members who have a personal interest in or see the value of a local business are often  willing to take more risk or a more modest return on their investment than would a financial institution or investment professional who seek to maximize profits above all else. This is just one reason why beginning farmers might find community capital attractive.

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We've Found You a New Hobby!

Even if you have plenty of hobbies, you might want to consider adding this one: Making policy. Our studies show that spending even a few hours per month shaping local or state policy can significantly improve the health and happiness of your local community. Sustainable Economies Law Center has a whole project dedicated, more or less, to this slogan:

everyone is a policymaker!

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Why the #DefundDAPL movement is about more than divesting from Wall Street

By Chris Tittle, Director of Organizational Resilience //

At a recent Oakland City Council meeting, Wilson Riles, a community leader and former City Councilmember, reminded us why Wall Street is so-called: it actually had a wall built around it in the 17th century to keep out Native tribes displaced by early colonists.

It’s also worth remembering that Wall Street was the site of New York City’s first slave market, and the first modern financial instruments were developed to collateralize Black bodies in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

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