Cooperatives Create PeoplePoweredEconomies

Cooperation_Jackson_Profile_oval.pngCooperatives are people powered organizations and SELC has been hard at work building the legal roots for cooperative economies across the country. We've trained legal professionals in New York, Oregon, and DC on cooperative law, worked for the passage of a legal entity for worker coops in California, and started the first business accelerator course for worker cooperatives on the West Coast! The legal roots of people powered economies are still being grown and its only through your support that we'll be able to deepen our impact. Will you support our continuing efforts to lay the legal foundations for People Powered Economies?

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Planting Seeds for #PeoplePoweredEconomies

In the 8 months since we launched the Save Seed Sharing campaign, we've made incredible progress in protecting people's rights to share seeds! Will you support us in continuing to cultivate this work and People Powered Economies?!       

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Cultivating the Roots of People Powered Economies

Growing healthy and sustainable food starts with caring for the soil.

We think of SELC’s work as cultivating a healthy soil for more resilient communities to grow. We’re the soil biologists, not the farmers (metaphorically, at least - some of us actually are urban farmers)!
So that’s why, as part of SELC’s People Powered Economies campaign, we are lifting up the work of our partners and allies who are rooted in the communities most impacted by the ills of an extractive economy, and most poised to cultivate and grow a new one.

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Why We Need People Powered Economies

A message from our Executive Director, Janelle Orsi:

Lately, this big word has been stuck in my head:

NOW

Three things are happening right NOW that are creating a sense of urgency at the Sustainable Economies Law Center. Sometimes, it's hard to see that they are happening, so we thought some visuals might help... 

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14 Trailblazers and a Pizza Party Inside [April Newsletter]


SELC is pleased to introduce the luminaries, geniuses, and wonderful human beings that make up our Board of Directors and Advisory Board. Sushil Jacob of the Green Collar Communities Clinic and Farzana Serang, Executive Director of the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFED) have recently joined our Board of Directors, and we've established a new Advisory Board filled with amazing people!

Below, you'll also find out about SELC's upcoming #PeoplePoweredEconomies campaign, Financial Transparency at SELC, upcoming events, and more!

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SELC makes laws! You make laws! We all make laws!

democracy |diˈmäkrəsē| noun - “A system of government in which all the people of a state ... are involved in making decisions about its affairs” (Oxford English Dictionary). 


What if every one of us got involved in making decisions about our affairs by writing and passing ONE law? At SELC, we’re realizing that many laws need to be created and reformed if we are going to build just and resilient communities. 

Our experience has taught us that anyone can become a citizen lawmaker! We've even developed a workshop to get you started! But first...

3 QUICK THINGS YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT OUR POLICY WORK:


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David, Goliath, and the CA Money Transmission Act

Sustainable Economies Law Center has been fighting hard and may now be able to take credit for small reforms to one of California’s most draconian and economically repressive laws, the Money Transmission Act (MTA). The MTA presents a nearly insurmountable barrier for small enterprises and cooperatives that facilitate the sale of products and services by receiving payment from one person and transferring it to another.

Most people’s jaws drop when they learn that they may be committing a felony if they do not meet the requirement of a $5,000 initial license application fee, $2,500 annual renewal fee, a $250,000 or $500,000 bond or securities on deposit, and a minimum net worth of $250,000. The CA Department of Business Oversight’s latest draft of proposed regulations incorporates SELC’s suggestions that 501(c)(3) nonprofits be exempt from registration and that the Department create a process for other enterprises to apply for an exemption. It’s a small victory, and we will continue to urge the state to consider SELC’s proposals for a more sensible law.

Learn more about Money Transmission Laws and the potential implications for community currencies, cooperatives, and other small enterprises at CommunityCurrenciesLaw.org

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Sustainable Economies Law Center in Fast Company article about Gig Economy Workers

3042081-poster-p-1-what-does-a-union-look-like-in-the-gig-economy.jpgSarah Kessler published a piece in Fast Company entitled, "What does a Union look like in the Gig Economy?"

Janelle Orsi, from the Sustainable Economies Law Center, advocates for a worker-owned platform model: 

"The only way for independent workers to really benefit from the platforms that use their labor, argues Janelle Orsi, a lawyer who specializes in sharing economy issues, is for them to own the platforms themselves, in what she calls a 'freelancer-owned cooperative.' Since these platforms would by definition treat workers better, she thinks they could challenge companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Homejoy by essentially stealing their workforces. 'The companies themselves have very few assets," she says. "They don’t own cars, and they don’t own infrastructure, they don’t own hotels. They just own a software platform and a lot of clout. And if that clout goes away, then they just have software. And lots of people can create software.'"

Read the whole article here: http://www.fastcompany.com/3042081/what-does-a-union-look-like-in-the-gig-economy

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Janelle Orsi is Rachel Network's First Fellow!

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Rachel's Network, a non-profit committed to advancing women with solutions to our biggest environmental challenges, has chosen SELC Executive Director, Janelle Orsi, has their first fellow! 

“More and more people are seeing that happiness comes not through owning things, but through having access to the things that foster rich experiences with their friends, family, and community,” says Rachel’s Network Liaison Annie Leonard. “[Janelle]’s got… an inspiring vision of sharing as a vehicle for social change.”

Read more about the fellowship, and how it'll support Janelle and SELC's work here:

http://rachelsnetwork.org/janelle2/

 

 

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Seed Libraries Fight For the Right to Share

shareablelogo.gifBy:Christopher Cook

February 11, 2015

It’s easy to take seeds for granted. Tiny dry pods hidden in packets and sacks, they make a brief appearance as gardeners and farmers collect them for future planting then later drop them into soil. They are not “what’s for dinner,” yet without them there would be no dinner. Seeds are the forgotten heroes of food—and of life itself.

Sharing these wellsprings of sustenance may sound innocuous enough, yet this increasingly popular exchange—and wider seed access—is up against a host of legal and economic obstacles. The players in this surreal saga, wherein the mere sharing of seeds is under attack, range from agriculture officials interpreting seed laws, to powerful corporations expanding their proprietary and market control.

Read the full article on Shareable

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Seed Campaign Updates

Last year, we found out that over 300 nonprofit seed libraries were at risk of being shut down due to misapplication of seed laws by several state departments of agriculture.

In partnership with Shareable and Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library, and with the help of the Clif Bar Family Foundation and Seed Matters, we launched a national petition campaign to build support for seed libraries and to tell regulators to protect our right to freely save and share seeds

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Sustainable Economies Law Center on CBS Bay Area Focus

Watch SELC build the legal roots of resilience before your eyes!On Sunday, January 25th, the Sustainable Economies Law Center's Janelle Orsi and Ricardo Nuñez were interviewed by CBS' Bay Area Focus! They spoke about the work SELC does and why legal resources are needed in every community to support the creation of cooperatives, renewable energy, shared housing and transportation, and more! Watch the video below!

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The Viability of the Commons

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Interview with Commons Transition

First published at CommonsTransition.org and republished under a Peer Production, P2P Attribution-ConditionalNonCommercial-ShareAlikeLicense

Can you define Commons Transition, tell us what it means to you?

Chris: To me, a commons transition speaks to the process of communities progressively controlling and self-governing more and more of their collective resources, by and for themselves and future generations. The “transition” implies that we are moving from one system of organizing society – in this case, global capitalism – to a wholly distinct socio-ecological paradigm rooted in age-old practices referred to as “the commons.” What’s particularly interesting about this transition is that, in many ways, it’s a return to principles of managing our homes that evolved over millennia before the onslaught of industrial capitalism. Our contemporary context is obviously much different from the indigenous and peasant cultures that sustained commons-based societies for thousands of years, but we have much to learn from them in how to undertake this transition.

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Check out our new FAQ for the Neighborhood Food Act

Today, the Neighborhood Food Act is officially in effect. So what does that mean for you? Find out by reading through our Neighborhood Food Act FAQ.

In the FAQ, you'll find answers to questions including:

  • Why do we need this law?
  • What does the law really do?
  • Who does the law apply to?
  • Can I sell food that I grow at home?
  • And more!

Click the link above to download a PDF copy of the FAQ, and visit our Food Resources page to find the FAQ and plenty of other food law and policy related educational resources.

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Duluth Library's Seed Sharing Program Hits A Hurdle

printLogo.gifBy: Dan Kraker, Minnesota Public Radio

(Originally published November 30, 2014)

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has given a thumbs down to a Duluth seed-sharing program that allows members to borrow vegetable seeds from the library in the spring and later return seeds they collect from their gardens.

State agriculture regulators say the exchange — one of about 300 in the United States — violates the state's seed law because it does not test seeds.

Read the full article on MPRNews.org

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