Resilient Communities Legal Cafe advises 500th Changemaker!

Our Resilient Communities Legal Cafe has been running since 2013, and last month, we served our 500th client! That means we’ve currently provided legal support for over 500 cooperatives, cottage food businesses, nonprofits, urban farms, social enterprises, and individuals working to build just and resilient economies. 

The People of Color Sustainable Housing Network came to a recent Legal Cafe, and shared their thoughts on the Cafe and their consultation:

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Resilient Economy Lawyers Need Community Too

By Cameron Rhudy, Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) Staff Attorney


As a resilient economy lawyer, I focus on my community. I use legal tools to support the local production of food, energy, housing, and jobs in an effort to strengthen the local economy. And I help clients navigate the roadblocks local enterprises face when raising capital from the community. But just as my clients need a community of support to succeed, I as their lawyer also need a community of support - a community of other lawyers.

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Berkeley Votes to Boost Co-op Economy In the Face of Gentrification


 of Yes! Magazine covers the passing of a co-op resolution in Berkeley, CA which requires the city to create an ordinance that supports worker owned cooperatives. Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) Policy Director, Yassi Eskandari-Qajar, is quoted extensively about how worker cooperatives benefit cities and communities.

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4 Updates from the Seed Sharing Movement


Cat Johnson of Shareable outlines four new developments in the seed sharing movement, including the introduction of legislation protecting seed sharing in California. 

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Janelle Orsi interviewed on the Laura Flanders Show


SELC's Executive Director, Janelle Orsi, was interviewed on The Laura Flanders show, which will air on LinkTV Friday, 2/26/16, at 9:00pm in CA. The episode "Pirates, Hackers, and the Sharing Economy." 

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Seed Libraries Featured in The Journal Gazette


Rosa Salter Rodriguez highlighted seed libraries and our advocacy work on behalf of seed libraries for The Journal Gazette in Indiana.

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Community Development and the Commons

By Chris Tittle, Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) Director of Organizational Resilience

Last August, 200 people from across Oakland, California came together to envision and design a development plan for a small parcel of public land. For months leading up to that day, community members and neighborhood coalitions had been organizing against a controversial - and possibly illegal - plan to develop a luxury high-rise apartment complex on land owned by the City of Oakland, in a neighborhood where 75% of residents are low or very-low income and 75% are renters. Having succeeded in pressuring the City to back out of the initially proposed deal with UrbanCore Development through creative direct action and sophisticated community organizing, organizers with the E12th St Coalition wanted to create a visionary community-driven alternative - and the E12th WishList People’s Planning Forum was convened. On a sunny Sunday afternoon near Oakland’s Lake Merritt, hundreds of people shared their visions for what could be done with this public land - and not a single person envisioned a market-rate housing complex on that site.

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Berkeley Worker Cooperative Resolution Passes!


Berkeley Passes Resolution Supporting

Worker Cooperatives


BERKELEY, CA (February 9, 2016) — On Tuesday, the City of Berkeley made a bold proclamation in support of democratic and equitable workplaces, passing City Councilmember Jesse Arreguín’s “Resolution Supporting the Development and Growth of Worker Cooperatives.

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Berkeley worker co-op resolution could usher in equitable economic development

Berkeley_City_Council.jpgBy An-Li Herring --
Berkeley has the potential to become the first city in the nation to adopt an ordinance giving worker-owned businesses preference in city contracting and procurement.

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguín (District 4) will introduce a resolution to draft the ordinance, which could also provide tax incentives and educational resources to worker cooperatives.

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Democratizing Seeds, Soil, and Sun: Our Year in Review & What's Next

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) got a lot done this year, and we couldn't have done it without supporters like you

Below is our 
2015 Annual Report to give you some highlights of the many ways we've helped create more just and resilient local economies across the country. (Click the image below to see a full-sized PDF with links!)

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SEC Finally Sets Rules for Investment Crowdfunding - A Perspective from the Sustainable Economies Law Center

As you may recall, there was much excitement in 2012 after President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law. This excitement was around Title III, also known as the Crowdfunding Title, which created certain exemptions from the requirement to obtain a permit from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) before starting an investment crowdfunding campaign. No entrepreneur has been able to make use of the law, however, because we have been waiting for the SEC to promulgate rules, as required by the law passed by Congress. The SEC fell behind schedule and took until last Friday, October 30, 2015, to finalize the rules it was required to make per the JOBS Act. The rules are set to go into effect on January 29, 2016.1

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Recording: Worker Co-op Solutions in the Prison Industrial Complex

The renowned speakersA Discussion with Jessica Gordon Nembhard

The US has the world's largest prison population at over 2,217,000 inmates. What would happen, though, if we began looking at worker cooperatives not only as an economic development tool but also as a tool for those incarcerated by the prison industrial complex? What transformational effects could this lead to? Are there examples of cooperatives made primarily of incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals and what can we learn from them? How can worker coops be an effective tool for those who were formerly incarcerated and how would it support re-entry? 

For those seeking new, real solutions for our incarcerated or formerly incarcerated brothers and sisters, SELC hosted a discussion with Jessica Gordon Nembhard, professor at John Jay College, CUNY and author of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice.

Listen below!

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SELC is Expanding its Community Energy Program!

SELC is expanding its Community Renewable Energy Program!

We are at a pivotal crossroads: as society tackles climate change and the fossil fuel industry, we have an opportunity to do so in a way that breaks cycles of growing income inequality, and builds resilient communities that generate their own clean energy. In response, SELC has committed to bolster our sustainable economy energy work, hired a full-time Community Renewable Energy Program director (see below!), and is undertaking a strategic planning process to develop our energy program's approach to advancing a just, equitable, and rapid transition to renewables.

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Small Is Still Beautiful


By: Courtney E. Martin
(Originally published September 25, 2015)


"Janelle is wise about small. In fact, she spends her days thinking about all of the ways we can navigate around, subvert, and change the laws that inhibit us from 'solving the most elementary problems of everyday existence,' i.e. create worker-owned businesses and other resilient and radical kinds of community organizations. (She also spends her days sketching out her ideas, as she’s literally the 'cartoonist-in-chief.')"

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Oakland Is Claiming Its Worker Cooperative Capital Title




 By: Malcolm Burnley
 (Originally published September 22, 2015)


 "[O]n September 8th, the City Council made good with a ceremonious resolution 'supporting the development of worker cooperatives in Oakland.'

Among other items, the move recognized that these sorts of businesses — estimated to number between 300 and 400 nationally — offer wages and benefits above industry averages. The resolution, too, was a tacit acknowledgement from Council that the city will look for ways to support co-ops down the road . . .

What that municipal support might look like is to be determined. But in a draft ordinance authored by the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), one of the organizing forces behind the referendum, the wish list for worker co-ops includes: getting the city to offer low-interest loans for converting traditional businesses into worker co-ops; preferential status to co-ops in the city contract procurement process; and waiving taxes and permit fees in the initial year of existence."

Read the full article on Next City

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