Organize, Reach Out, Assemble, GROW!

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My name is Hope Williams and I am a legal apprentice at the Law Center's Radical Real Estate Law School. I’ve been an organizer and renter in San Francisco for over three years and have played a role in the newest wave of a tenant uprising. According to a San Francisco Planning Report, in 2015, 56 percent of the residents in San Francisco were renters. 56 percent! With the advent of COVID, now more than ever, we must help each other and consolidate our power as tenants because there is strength in solidarity. Being able to fight alongside the most vulnerable communities in this city has taught me a lot.

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How to set up a mutual aid fund

By: Julia Ho, Shareable

mutual aid fund

Excerpt:"The Sustainable Economies Law Center also just released this mutual aid legal guide and is an immensely helpful resource for mutual aid and other grassroots groups working through legal questions and compliance issues."

Read full article here.

(Originally published September 24, 2020.)

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This Oakland Law Center Fights Housing Insecurity by ‘Radicalizing Real Estate’

By: Hannah Chinn, Next City

 

Excerpt: SELC’s work towards building radical real estate is almost always focused on helping communities acquire property by taking it off the speculative market. Sometimes, that involves leveraging existing legal structures such as using conservation or housing justice easements and building land trusts. They will also lobby for policies that give tenants of a building the first right of refusal to purchase the building, or partner with organizations to create cooperatives such as the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative.

Read full article here.

(Originally published September 25, 2020.)

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September 2020 Newsletter: Radical Real Estate Law School is now in session!

The Law Center is overjoyed to welcome four incredible apprentices into the fold. Over the next four years, through learning and practice, our Radical Real Estate Law School aka RRELS apprentices, will work to change how communities access land and housing through a radical reimagining of the law. Their vision is to democratize, decolonize, and decarbonize land and housing, and give life to a future where land justice and universal housing are reality.

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Equitable Community Solar: California & Beyond

People Power Solar

We are excited to share that the Ecology Law Quarterly has just published Equitable Community Solar: California & Beyond by Subin DeVar, the Law Center’s energy program director. The article builds on the Law Center’s community energy work over the last several years, including our advocacy related to implementation of California’s community solar policies, and our development of community-owned energy project models through incubating the People Power Solar Cooperative. Based on these lessons, it proposes a simple and useful framework for equitable community solar based on centering marginalized communities and community-owned energy.

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How Blockbusting and Real Estate Profiteers Cash In on Racial Tension

By: By Stephen Zacks, Dwell

 Photo 1 of 6 in How Blockbusting and Real Estate Profiteers Cash In on Racial Tension

Excerpt: All in all, the profiteering habits of the real estate market underline a need to rethinking housing as a commodity. Chris Tittle, staff lawyer and director of land and housing justice at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, which provides technical support for communities organizing to assert greater control over their resources, advocates for cooperative ownership and social housing that would permanently take buildings out of the speculative marketplace and place it in the hands of local groups and those in need of shelter. "When we’re doing work, our primary analysis is that the underlying root cause of a lot of this is the financialization of housing and the commodification of housing," Tittle says. "Housing under capitalism is not designed to providing housing for people; it’s primarily designed to extract as much value as possible."

Read the full article here.

(Originally published August 13, 2020.)

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Legal Cafe Teach-In: How to Pool Resources to Create a More Sustainable Economy

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Our summer 2020 Law Center intern Sam Karlin led a teach-in exploring how community capital can be used to support local businesses, increase community wealth, and promote social and economic justice.  

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Escape From the Nuclear Family: Covid-19 Should Provoke a Re-Think of How We Live

By: Naomi Klein, The Intercept

Excerpt: ... I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, in Oakland, unceded Ohlone territories. We have the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, which is an Ohlone land trust that’s rebuilding the land base for the Ohlone peoples and for indigenous peoples in the Bay Area. There’s resources like the Sustainable Economies Law Center, which is just an incredible resource for helping people think about how to live in intentional community. Everything from the mundane legal structure questions to what the daily practice of compassionate self-governance looks like.

Read the full article here.

(Originally published August 5, 2020.)

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‘Radical Real Estate Law School’ is in session

By: Natalie Orenstein, The Oaklandside

Excerpt: The program is offered through the Sustainable Economies Law Center in downtown Oakland, one of the handful of organizations taking advantage of a little-known rule in California and a few other states allowing people to take the bar exam without first obtaining a traditional law school degree. Instead, apprentices study and work directly with practicing lawyers for four years, saving money and boosting their host organization’s workforce.

For Hernandez, becoming a lawyer through an unconventional method made sense. She’d come in direct contact with housing law herself, through unconventional living situations.

Five years ago, Hernandez’s family was evicted from a home they rented in Oakland’s Maxwell Park neighborhood. Unable to afford anything they found on Craigslist, Hernandez, her husband, and their four children piled into the car and went looking for buildings with “for rent” signs in the windows.

Read the full article here.

(Originally published July 30, 2020.)

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A Quiet Workplace Revolution in the Shadow of Silicon Valley

By: Vanessa Bee, The New Republic

Excerpt: The location of the daycare may have had something to do with this sense of possibility: The Bay Area boasts one of the highest concentrations of worker co-ops in the United States. Though California has a relatively friendly regime of laws, advocacy groups have pushed for simplifying the formation process for pure worker co-ops and hybrids co-owned by consumers and workers. One recent effort culminated in the passage of Assembly Bill 816, a statute that eases fundraising and defines worker co-ops clearly, so the label isn’t claimed without the matching structures in place.

Municipalities in the Bay Area have also experimented with providing support. In 2012, after its mayor visited the town of Mondragon, Richmond piloted a one-year fund of $50,000 to make loans to worker co-ops. Three years later, Oakland passed a resolution [A note from SELC: click here to read our press release about the Oakland Resolution!] pledging to “provide tailored resources created by community organizations and make referrals to technical assistance providers” for potential worker co-ops. So far, however, one of the most concrete commitments has come from Berkeley, which pledged $100,000 to support worker co-ops. Meanwhile, San Francisco is partnering with the Bay Area–based nonprofit Project Equity to encourage private owners to transfer their small businesses to employees rather than close.

Read the full article here.

(Originally published June 3, 2020.)

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East Oakland Grocery Cooperative, a homegrown market for and by Black and brown folks

By Cirrus Wood, Oaklandside

East Oakland Grocery Cooperative founding cohort members (from top left) Demetrius El Gant, James Hudson, Erin Higgenbotham, Crsna Cox, Yolanda Romo, Jameelah Lane and Daniel Harris-Lucas with EOGC project manager (front right) Ayano Jeffers-Fabro of the East Oakland Grocery Cooperative.

Excerpt: The East Oakland Grocery Cooperative(EOGC) is a Black and POC-led, community-developed initiative that aims to provide fresh, local, healthy and culturally relevant foods, as well as job opportunities, to East Oakland residents. The point is not only to diversify neighborhood food offerings, but also to localize and build economic resilience among the area’s Black and POC communities...

At present the seven members are engaged in a 12-week training program at Mandela Grocery Cooperative, which is serving in an advisory capacity, along with Repaired Nations, an organization focused on building wealth and resilience within Black communities.

Read the full article here.

(Originally published June 24, 2020.)

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Can Ridesharing Cooperatives Disrupt Uber & Lyft?

Considering all the legal drama that is happening in California with Uber and Lyft around worker classification, here's a reminder of how things could be if those ridesharing giants were coops instead. "Instead of optimizing the online economy for growth and short-term profits for the few," the emerging Platform Cooperative movement is trying to build a more sustainable and equitable business model for the 21st century.

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History of Mutual Aid Coops

Since the onset of COVID-19, the Sustainable Economies Law Center and other legal professionals have worked to develop guidance and resources relating to tax, governance, and other immediate needs of mutual aid groups as they provide local support within communities affected by the pandemic and its economic consequences.

On July 22nd, 2020, our summer intern Erika Sato hosted a teach-in on the history of Mutual Aid Coops.

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(Re)Structuring Your Arts Organization

We're in a unique situation where people are consuming and appreciating art more than ever as we shelter in place to keep our community safe. To honor our artistic comrades, we partnered with The Bridge Project for our June 30th Legal Cafe. Instead of serving all types of social enterprises like we usually do, we hosted this Legal Cafe specifically for artists!

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Self Care Only Exists With Collective Care

The Law Center will be closed for a period of Collective Rest from July 27-31, 2020. 

     Our communities are in an unprecedented situation and many activists and social movement organizations have been sprinting since March. If we do not acknowledge this, and particularly the impact that it has on our organizations and the people that power them, then we actively perpetuate a cycle of violence that keeps our communities tied to the extractive, white supremacist culture we are trying build beyond. Many of our community members were already depleted when this social movement and historic moment came about. Inspired by members of our community like Hasta Muerte Coffee, East Bay Meditation Center, Alchemy Collective Cafe, CompassPoint, and others, the Sustainable Economies Law Center is taking a week of collective rest starting July 27th. Our intention is that this week will give us a short time to pause, disconnect from the constant virtual meetings, and reflect on how we are each being impacted. Hopefully we can find joy in what’s available to each of us at this time, too.

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