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.
Rosa Salter Rodriguez highlighted seed libraries and our advocacy work on behalf of seed libraries for The Journal Gazette in Indiana.Read more
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.Read more
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Berkeley Passes Resolution Supporting
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.”Read more
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!)
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, 2016.1Read more
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!Read more
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.Read more
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.')"
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."
Last Friday the California State Legislature passed AB 234 - a bill to improve the law affecting "community food producers" and gleaners who provide fresh fruits and vegetables to people in California.
You can read more about the bill and legal background in our previous Food News Blog post here.
The bill is now on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature or veto. This is the last step in the lawmaking process. We will know by October 11 whether this bill will become law effective January 1, 2016. We think that it is very likely that the Governor will sign the bill. We will write a follow-up post after the Governor announces what he has decided to do with the bill.Read more
At the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) we frequently run up against the challenge of agricultural and food safety laws that are not designed with the local food movement in mind. So many of these laws are clearly designed to facilitate a food system comprised of long distribution chains catering to very large enterprises. The idea of direct, farmer-to-consumer transactions is sometimes just not contemplated as a real possibility by the law.
We at SELC believe that agricultural regulations should be more risk-appropriate and scale-appropriate in order to remove unnecessary barriers to small-scale sustainable farming, community-supported enterprises, farmer-to-consumer sales, and local food consumption generally. That's why we have advocated for laws such as the California Homemade Food Act and the Neighborhood Food Act, and supported local initiatives to legalize urban agriculture, among our many policy campaigns.
OAKLAND, CA (September 8, 2015) — The day after Labor Day, Oakland City Council made a bold proclamation in support of democratic and equitable workplaces, passing the “Resolution Supporting the Development of Worker Cooperatives In Oakland.” The Sustainable Economies Law Center championed this resolution in partnership with District 4 Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington, Council President and District 3 Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, and many organizational partners and allies.Read more
"The Oakland City Council is considering a resolution to support an unconventional business model that some say can help fight income inequality in the East Bay. The resolution, which the council will review at its September 8 meeting, is aimed at encouraging the development of worker cooperatives, which are businesses that are owned and governed by employees, meaning workers share profits and tend to make above-average wages.
"The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), an Oakland-based nonprofit that worked with Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington on the resolution, said the measure is largely symbolic but hopes it will be a precursor to the passage of more concrete reforms that would incentivize the growth of these businesses in the city."
By: Sara Stephens
(Originally published August 31, 2015)
"On Sept. 8, community members will pack Oakland City Hall to celebrate the City Council's groundbreaking resolution to support worker cooperatives as a powerful tool for economic development and democratic, empowering workplaces. The resolution will recognize the benefits that worker cooperatives bring to local economies, especially to Oakland, which is a national hub for such enterprises.
"Oakland will be one of the first cities in the country to integrate tailored support for worker cooperatives into its business assistance center.
"This resolution is a first step toward a broader worker cooperative development strategy. Following this event, the Sustainable Economies Law Center and partner organizations will work with Councilwoman Annie Campbell Washington and others in the city to pass an ordinance that creates meaningful incentives and investment in worker cooperatives."