SACRAMENTO, CA—On May 22, the California State Assembly passed AB816, a major step toward making California the twelfth state to establish a legal form specifically for worker cooperatives. This campaign is building on the momentum of worker cooperative policy initiatives happening throughout the country—including a $1.2 million dollar funding initiative in New York City last summer—as the cooperative business form gains recognition as a powerful tool for economic revitalization.
Cooperatives 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?Read more
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.
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.Read more
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.
Commentary on Juliet Schor's "Debating the Sharing Economy", by Chris Tittle
Juliet Schor offers us one of the most lucid, insightful, and well-researched analyses of the so-called "sharing economy," examining the self-proclaimed social and environmental transformations that for-profit companies have claimed, and concluding, rightly I think, that the capacity of sharing economy users to organize themselves is a central factor in truly unlocking the potential of the sharing model.
Read the full essay at Great Transition Initiative
Happy Fall! Here at the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), we've been hard at work sowing the seeds for a more resilient food system. Here's a brief update on some of our accomplishments, on-going projects, and upcoming events. Check it out!Read more
Over the weekend the Governor signed another bill that SELC helped create! This bill, AB 569, will facilitate cooperative housing development in California, especially the creation of Limited Equity Housing Cooperatives (LEHCs). LEHCs provide residents with a unique form of equity stake in their home that restricts the resale value of shares to keep the prices low when regular market forces would otherwise drive them up.Read more
September 26, 2014
Today Governor Jerry Brown signed Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC)'s Neighborhood Food Act, AB 2561, and several other bills seeking to promote local and sustainable food systems in California.
AB 2561 guarantees tenants’ and members of homeowner’s associations’ rights to grow food for personal consumption by voiding contrary language in lease agreements or homeowner’s association agreements.
AB 2561 preempts landlords from restricting tenants who live in single-family or duplex residences from growing food for themselves in portable containers in their backyards. The bill allows landlords to determine the location of containers, restrict the use of synthetic chemicals, and enter into separate agreements with tenants regarding excess water use or waste collection. Common interest developments are also preempted from restricting members from growing food for personal consumption or donation.
Some 25 organizations supported the bill, including Sustainable Economies Law Center (sponsor), Slow Food California, Social Justice Learning Institute, and Ubuntu Green. Neil Thapar, Staff Attorney at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, said, “As Californians continue to face significant economic and environmental uncertainty, the Neighborhood Food Act is a great step forward towards equitable access to healthy food, developing resilient food systems, and strengthening local economies. People have the right to grow their own food, and this law clarifies that right.”
The bill as originally drafted by SELC, and as introduced in the State Legislature by Assemblymember Steven Bradford, also contained provisions that would overturn local zoning ordinances that prohibit growing food in front yards, back yards and vacant lots in residential neighborhoods and other city zones. This section of the bill was removed in the Assembly Local Government Committee due to opposition from the local government lobby. SELC hopes for future state legislation that addresses the widespread conflicts between city zoning codes and the urban agriculture movement in order to increase access to fresh, healthy and local food for many more Californians.
While there is much work ahead to remove legal barriers to small-scale, sustainable and local agriculture in California, we are pleased with the increasing interest among the State Legislature in addressing these critical issues. Today we are extremely grateful to the many farmers, gardeners, legislators and their staff, nonprofit organizations and community organizers who supported the Neighborhood Food Act.
Neil Thapar, Staff Attorney
Phone: (510) 398-6219
2323 Broadway, #203 Oakland, CA 94612
On Sunday, September 21st, over 300,000 people from across the globe gathered in the streets of New York to demand action on climate change. Here in the Bay Area, we're co-creating a solutions-based movement to transform our economies - read on for all the ways to get involved in the coming months!