Leveling the Playing Field for Worker Cooperatives

By Abby Scher, Truthout | News Analysis

(Photo: Jay Gorman, Shaking hands via Shutterstock; Edited: EL / TO)"A quiet revolution is rumbling through New York's municipal offices as they retool to support the creation of worker cooperatives as a way to fight poverty.

Spurred by the powerful example of immigrant-owned cleaning cooperatives and the longstanding example of Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx - the largest worker cooperative in the country - progressive city council members are allying with a new network of worker cooperatives, community based organizations that incubated immigrant-owned coops and the influential Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies to figure out how the city can encourage this still-tiny economic sector. Once fully in place, New York City will be a national leader in providing municipal support for these democratic enterprises."

Read the full article on Truthout

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California Complementary Currencies bill approved by lawmakers, goes to Governor Brown's desk

al jazeera logoCalifornia lawmakers on Monday approved a measure making it easier to use alternative currencies [...].

The bill would repeal what backers said was an outdated law prohibiting commerce using anything but U.S. currency.

"This bill is intended to fine-tune current law to address Californians' payment habits in the mobile and digital fields," said the bill's author, Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson in a press release.

He cited the popularity of bitcoin, and added that under the current law, even gift cards and reward points from retailers could be considered illegal.

"In an era of evolving payment methods, from Amazon coins to Starbucks Stars, it is impractical to ignore the growing use of cash alternatives," Dickinson said.

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Neighborhood Food Act Update - June 18, 2014

The Neighborhood Food Act is flying through the Senate, passing out of the Transportation and Housing Committee yesterday by a vote of 10-1. Though the opposition continues to push for narrowing the scope of the bill, we are grateful that Assemblymember Bradford is standing firm to maintain the important protections that exist for homeowners and tenants to grow their own food. We are also excited at the level of support AB 2561 is receiving in the Senate and are working to ensure this momentum stays with the bill as it continues through the legislative process.

Wasting no time, the bill will next be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, June 24th at 1:30pm in Room 112 at the State Capitol.

We continue to hear from legislator's offices that they are receiving calls in support of this bill so we know that all your calls are making a difference. You can keep the pressure on by calling in to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee before June 24th to let them know they need to show support. We've created a list of the committee members with their contact information. Remember to be polite and sincere. You can use the phone script below when you make the call.

"Hi, my name is (your name),

I am a (renter, member of an HOA, gardener, homeowner, landlord, etc.) and I wish for the State Legislature to pass AB 2561, the California Neighborhood Food Act.

Assemblymember Steven Bradford introduced the California Neighborhood Food Act (AB 2561), to increase access to fresh food throughout California. Many Californians NEED more access to fresh food. What better way than to grow it on their own? As a California resident seeking increased access to fresh, local food, I'm calling to urge (Senator's name) to vote YES on AB 2561 at Tuesday's Judiciary Committee hearing. Thank you!"

If you live in the Sacramento area and are interested in attending the hearing, please email neil (at) theselc (dot) org, for more information on joining us to advocate for the Neighborhood Food Act in committee.

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SELC Co-Founder Named 2014 Ashoka Fellow


The Sustainable Economies Law Center is proud to announce that our co-founder and Executive Director, Janelle Orsi, has just been named a 2014 Ashoka Fellow! Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who are recognized for their innovative solutions to social problems, and their potential to change patterns across society. According to Ashoka, Fellows "demonstrate unrivaled commitment to bold new ideas and prove that compassion, creativity, and collaboration are tremendous forces for change."

Watch Ashoka's three-minute video showcasing SELC's work and vision for a more just, compassionate, and resilient world:

See Janelle Orsi's full Ashoka profile here.

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ACTION ALERT! Neighborhood Food Act needs your support in the Senate!

As the sponsor of the Neighborhood Food Act, we are so glad the bill passed through the California Assembly!

Now, we need your help telling the Senate that they need to follow the Assembly's lead and vote YES on AB 2561, the Neighborhood Food Act!

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Worker Coop Academy: Now Accepting Applications

Applications now open!

The Blueprint Collaborative is excited to announce that applications for the Worker Coop Academy are now being accepted! The Blueprint Collaborative - the Green Collar Communities Clinic of the East Bay Community Law Center, Project Equity, and the Sustainable Economies Law Center - are working together to create a cooperative start up and growth assistance program providing education, business coaching, and legal advice! The aim of the Worker Coop Academy is to assist the formation and expansion of worker-owned businesses that will provide good jobs for low to moderate income workers.


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Neighborhood Food Act passes out of the Assembly!

Thanks to the hard work of our partner organizations, supporters (that's you!), and Assemblymember Bradford's office, the Neighborhood Food Act passed out of the Assembly!

On Thursday, May 29, the California Assembly voted 53-24 in favor of AB 2561, the Neighborhood Food Act. After several rounds of committee hearings and negotiations with the opposition, we are happy to report that the Neighborhood Food Act will continue through the legislative process and hopefully be signed into law before the end of the summer.

But we need your help!

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the Next Nobel Prize in Economics

JO!As the Committee now begins deliberation for the 2014 award, I would like to bring to their attention the woman I consider one of the most innovative economists of our age – Janelle Orsi.

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The Case Against Sharing

Image by Susie CageOn access, scarcity, and trust

By Susie Cage, Medium

"...Sharing economy boosters repeatedly call the whole thing “empowering.” For them, it certainly is. And in some iterations, it can be for all of us. In its full scope, including barter and gift transactions and nonprofit collectives and cooperatives, the sharing economy is decidedly not all bad. Enabling peer to peer commercial interactions can save us time and money; it can lessen our impact on the planet. And it can also replicate old social and economic patterns and further degrade worker and consumer protections..."

Read the entire article on Medium

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Fixing the Law’s Bias Against Sharing

Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy

by David Bollier 

news and perspectives on the commons

"Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy will be a landmark reference tool for law and the sharing economy for years to come.  May it inspire more law students to enter this under-served field of law, and may it help catalyze changes in law and public policy to affirmatively support the new modes of sharing that are popping up all over..."

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Cooperatives give new meaning to sharing economy

Corey Petersen (left), owner of Tact Massage Therapy, discusses business strategy with Josh Danielson, co-founder of Loconomics, in San Francisco. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

On the face of it, Loconomics and Bring It Local sound like typical tech startups.

But behind the scenes, both companies are fomenting a quiet revolution in their business structures. They are organizing themselves as cooperatives - for-profit enterprises owned by the people who work for and use the services.


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Fixing the Law’s Bias Against Sharing

Renowned author and activist David Bollier, well-known for his work on the commons, writes a raving review of Janelle Orsi's book Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy (ABA 2012). "...Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy will be a landmark reference tool for law and the sharing economy for years to come.  May it inspire more law students to enter this under-served field of law, and may it help catalyze changes in law and public policy to affirmatively support the new modes of sharing that are popping up all over.  The mismatch between the burgeoning sharing economy and legacy legal regimes urgently needs to be addressed." Read more.

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S.F. conference brings sharing economy into spotlight

by Carolyn Said

EXCERPT: Janelle Orsi, executive director of the Sustainable Economies Law Center, said the sector helps perpetuate income inequality. Its challenge will be to create structures that help return wealth to users, such as cooperatives, she said. 


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It's not all sunshine

It's not all sunshine, as sharing start-ups tackle big issues at industry meet-up

Janelle at the SHARE Conference

By Caitlin McGarry (@Caitlin_McGarry)

EXCERPT: “[Peers] didn’t want this conference to be all sunshine and, ‘The sharing economy is magic and perfect,’” said Janelle Orsi, an attorney who gives legal advice to sharing start-ups at Oakland's Sustainable Economies Law Center, during a Tuesday panel. “We can step back and say, ‘What are the things we haven’t factored into our considerations yet?’”

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What's beyond the sharing economy? The Beatles Economy!

SELC at workSo there we were, on the brink of changing the world, and we still hadn't found a name for what we were doing! The sharing economy? The community resilience movement? The cooperative economy? The new economy?  

Well, at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, our extensive and intensive research has finally uncovered a more precise phrase: The Beatles Economy! Yeah, Beatles. As in The Beatles, who managed to present a comprehensive vision for a better world...in their song titles. Check out our video to learn more!

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