Santa Clara says YES to Creating a City for Worker Coops to Thrive

“Santa Clara is the City of What’s Possible--Let’s Make Coops Possible!” - Councilmember Debi Davis 

Worker owners, supporters, and beloved community came out to advocate for worker cooperative city support!On Tuesday night, over fifty coop members and supporters from all over the Bay Area gathered for a learning session requested by the Santa Clara City Council who later unanimously voted to support the development of worker cooperatives in their city! It was standing room only in the council chambers as a result of Kirk and Marguerite Vartan’s dedication and energy to get this session on the council’s agenda as well as partner and support organizations from across the South Bay. Kirk Vartan is the Founder and General Manager of A Slice of New York, a pizza shop that converted to a worker-owned coop nearly three years ago. Vartan created an impressive and engaging line up of speakers including Hillary Abell of Project Equity, our own Ricardo Samir Nuñez, Sue Lopez, a baker of 19 years from the Arizmendi Bakeries, and Rendell (Ren) Boguiren, a founding member and the board secretary of A Slice of New York pizzeria.

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Takeaways from Chordata Capital’s webinar: “Investing with a Reparations Lens” 

By Sophia Leswing, Law Center Summer 2019 Intern

What does it mean to invest with a reparations lens?

As a UC Berkeley undergraduate student minoring in Public Policy and passionate about racial justice, I frequently peruse the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society website for the latest research on inequity and policies. Last year, I stumbled upon Richard Rothstein’s book: The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, which outlines a history of both de facto and de jure government-sponsored racial disenfranchisement in the United States that has resulted in the staggering wealth gap between whites and blacks today. I found the book to be extremely compelling and deeply disturbing. I felt that if politicians [*cough cough* Mitch McConnell] today would only read this book in tandem with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations”, they’d without a doubt understand the need for reparations. 

I’ve become frustrated with the lack of inaction to explore reparations at the national political scale, so I was very energized to hear about people pursuing reparations through their own personal investing habits.

      

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Retirement Investments That Nurture Communities

How can we apply our retirement savings to nurture the communities and planet where we plan to retire? 

We are thrilled to announce the launch of TheNextEgg.org, a community of people learning to self-direct their retirement savings into investments that repair injustices, sequester carbon, nurture local enterprises, and create a world that will sustain us into retirement and for generations to come.

The Next Egg is a project co-stewarded by Sustainable Economies Law Center, LIFT Economy, and author Michael Shuman. 

    

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People & Planet Over Programs & Profit

Part of our blog series where our Summer Interns introduce themselves to our communities.

By Tracy Bindel, Law Center Summer 2019 Law Clerk

Tracy Bindel

My name is Tracy Bindel and I grew up in a large family in rural New Mexico. I'm currently a night school student at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, MA where I am studying to become a Cooperative Lawyer. During the day, I am a Spiritual Director working to support white people spiritually who are waking up to their whiteness through a collective called Freedom Beyond. My dad, a long time IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) member, instilled in me and my brothers the importance of valuing labor from a very young age. His influence and growing up near two family farms roots me in the wisdom that people and our planet are always more important than programs or profit. This wisdom has guided me throughout my life and even to intern at the Law Center this summer.

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Guest Post: How I Launched the First Legal Cafe in Ohio!

By Jacqueline Radebaugh, Staff Attorney with ABLE Law and Law Center Legal Fellow

Most of you may already know about Sustainable Economies Law Center's Resilient Communities Legal Cafe program, the Law Center's innovative drop-in legal services clinic that happens 3x a month throughout the Bay Area.

What happens when you take the Legal Cafe model and replicate in a mid-sized town in Southwest Ohio, in a community that has never heard of it?

This is the story of how I was able to pull it off, the lessons I learned along the way, and how YOU, too, can launch a Legal Cafe to provide legal support to community-owned enterprises in your town. 

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Learning About Lawyering in the Just Transition

Part of our blog series where our Summer Interns introduce themselves to our communities.

By Savannah Wheeler, Law Center Summer 2019 Law Clerk

My name is Savannah Wheeler and I am a rising second year student at Berkeley Law. I am excited to be joining the Sustainable Economies Law Center team this summer as a legal intern, assisting the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative and the Law Center with legal research and community legal education.

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Workers rising: The push for city-supported worker coops is taking hold in these Bay Area cities

By Erin Baldassari of East Bay Times

[The Sustainable Economies Law Center was featured in the East Bay Times yesterday for its policy advocacy efforts in Berkeley following the Berkeley City Council's historic vote on June 26, 2019, to commit $100,000 towards worker cooperative programs and services. Read more about the important role worker cooperatives play in creating local job opportunities and the Law Center's contributions to Bay Area worker cooperative policy advocacy efforts.]

When Rendell “Ren” Boguiren got a job in college at a South Bay pizzeria, he wasn’t expecting it would become a career. Now, as a part-owner in the business, he can’t imagine leaving.

It was a transition made possible because co-founders Kirk Vartan and his wife, Marguerite Lee, made a decision in 2015 to sell the business they started, A Slice of New York, to their employees. Both continue to retain part ownership, along with 14 other worker-owners.

“I take a lot of pride in being an owner,” Borguiren said. “It’s something I never would have expected.”

Read full article here.

(Originally published June 30, 2019.)

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City of Berkeley Commits $100,000 to Worker Cooperative Development

BERKELEY, CA (June 26, 2019) — Last night, Berkeley City Council adopted a two-year budget committing $100,000 to local worker cooperative development programs and services. The funds will go toward vastly expanding a worker cooperative development pilot program that was launched by the City's Office of Economic Development earlier this year. 

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Almost 30 worker cooperative members and advocates attended the City Council meeting to demonstrate their support. 

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School's Out: Legal Apprentices Take Alternative Path To Bar

By Mike Lasusa of Law360

Vermont Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Skoglund wanted to be an artist.

It was the late 1970s. She had an undergraduate degree in sculpture. But part-time jobs in the art world, including a stint carving gravestones, weren’t putting enough money in the bank.


The future Justice Skoglund started looking for a licensed profession where she could work for herself. She was a skilled writer. The law seemed like a good fit.

But law school, not so much.

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Let's Make Alt-Thinking the New Norm

Part of our blog series where our Summer Interns introduce themselves to our communities.

By Sophia Leswing, Law Center Summer 2019 Intern

As a kid I have fond memories walking down the abundant aisles of the local Marin County Civic Center Farmers’ Market with my mother every Sunday. Most mornings were either bright and crisp warmer months or gray and rainy in the Winter and Spring seasons - typical Northern California weather, always mild. I would wander about absorbing the sensory experience - watching my mom chat with Sunny, her favorite mushroom vendor, tasting Tomatero’s famous strawberries, and listening to this week’s local musicians jamming out their favorite tunes.

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Lessons from the Cooperative Professionals Guild Conference

By Sara Stephens, Law Center Staff Attorney

One of the biggest hurdles cooperatives face is finding legal and accounting help from professionals who understand their business and governance model. Meanwhile, attorneys and accountants who want to support cooperatives have few places to turn for education and mentoring in cooperative law. To address these gaps, we're fiscally sponsoring the Cooperative Professionals Guild!

The Cooperative Professionals Guild's New Horizons and Best Practices for Cooperative Professionals Conference brought together attorneys and accountants for three days to learn from one another’s practices, initiate newcomers into cooperative law and financial topics, and dig into legal and accounting challenges confronting our clients. Our agenda was packed with six sessions ranging from innovative structures for worker ownership and cooperative real estate investment, new tax bill implications for cooperatives, securities law implications of having members in multiple states, and more!

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Becoming a Lawyer Without Going to Law School

By Tia Katrina Taruc-Myers, Law Center Director of Legal Education

On June 5th, 2019, Yassi Eskandari and Ricardo S. Nuñez of the Sustainable Economies Law Center presented on their experience as apprentices and discussed how to skip law school and go straight into changing the world! We discussed California's Law Office Study Program and reviewed the requirements, lessons learned, and shared resources on becoming an attorney through "reading the law." Check out the video below:

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Public Service, Racial Equity, & Other Things

Part of our blog series where our Summer Interns introduce themselves to our communities.

By Nicole Giles, Law Center Summer 2019 Intern

I am a 21 year old Black womxn and the youngest of two children, born and raised in the Bay Area. I graduated from UC Irvine in June 2018 with a double major in Business Economics and Social Policy & Public Service. My interests include philanthropy, policy, nonprofit work and critical race theory. 

While in college I organized political actions at a number of different conferences including the United States Student Association Conference in D.C. and the Students of Color Conference in Irvine. Additionally, as a member of the Black Student Union Demands Team, I helped put forth demands for police abolition on UC Irvine’s campus as a tool for both promoting political education and starting conversations surrounding what fundamental safety and equity looks like for Black students on campus.

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Finally! A Network for Legal and Tax Professionals To Build Grassroots Economic Empowerment

By Cameron Rhudy, Law Center Staff Attorney

We launched a network of legal and tax practitioners at law4economicdemocracy.org to cultivate a new landscape that supports community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment.

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Berkeley City Council Adopts Budget Referral for Worker Coop Development

BERKELEY, CA (May 29, 2019) — Last night, Berkeley City Council approved a budget referral that would commit $80,000 per year for two years to worker cooperative development services. The final number is still subject to change until the budget process draws to a close on June 25th. If adopted, this will be the City’s biggest investment in worker cooperatives to-date.

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Sustainable Economies Law Center and partners preparing for public comment. Left to right: Yassi Eskandari (Policy Director at the Law Center), Foresta Sieck-Hill (Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives), Laura Smoot (US Federation of Worker Cooperatives), Alison Lingane (Project Equity). 

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Thanks to our Partners and Collaborators: