By: By Marisa Kendall, East Bay Times
Excerpt: “I’m sure they felt really hopeful that within a short period of time they’d be able to do great things with this land,” said Janelle Orsi, co-founder of Sustainable Economies Law Center, which has been helping Poor Magazine with the project. “I don’t think they ever would have imagined they’d hit so many barriers. And what it shows is that our laws and city procedures are not set up to support the groups that are supporting our community and creating the necessary housing.”
Read full article here.
(Originally published July 1, 2021.)
Announcing The Oakland People’s Plan:
29 Oakland Groups Ask the City to Rethink the General Plan Process
June 29, 2021
On June 25, 2021, a newly formed coalition of Oakland organizations called The Oakland People’s Plan, submitted a community-centered proposal to the City of Oakland in response to Oakland’s Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a prime consultant to manage the City’s General Plan update. The Oakland People’s Plan (TOPP) formed instantaneously – in the space of one week – in response to feelings that the City’s approach to the Plan update would prevent meaningful community participation.
Staff and interns of the Sustainable Economies Law Center helped convene the group after conversations with several community organizations, planning professionals, and the City’s Planning Department. “The City says it wants to engage the community in this process, but their approach shows the opposite,” said Tia Taruc-Myers, an attorney with the Law Center who helped lead the effort. “We asked the City to extend the RFP deadline so that community groups could come up to speed and get involved, but the City refused. It appeared that only for-profit planning firms were planning to submit proposals.”Read more
Imagine a bustling neighborhood where the local grocery and cafe is cooperatively owned. It’s a hub, a meeting place, a point of connection where people come to shop for the week's groceries but stay to chat over a cup of tea. All the investors in the store are neighbors and the worker-owners know them by name. The co-op hosts a yearly fiesta where neighbors and investors get to meet the farmers who grow the food for the coop.
A beautiful image of a sustainable community that’s interconnected and nourishing itself, right? Because we all know that a sustainable economy centers relationships, not transactions.
Interdependence has been a recurring concept at the Law Center that has evolved into a closely held value. So much so, that we’ve decided to offer a series of events and happenings next month to explore how we rebuild lives, communities, and legal systems on a foundation of interdependence. This will be a space to conjure images like the one above, and more!
As a prelude to Interdependence Month, we’re narrowing in on the individuals in our web of interdependence. Who are the people that hold the Law Center up, push us to strive and think creatively, and support us in all we do?
California's investor-owned utilities are opening up a new front in their power grabbing war against California's energy utility customers -- and that means you.
In California, profits for these investor-owned utility (IOU) monopolies like PG&E are not determined by how much energy they sell, but by how much they invest in infrastructure (transmission lines, etc.). Their return on these investments is guaranteed by state regulators. It’s no secret that every year, IOUs spend millions of their customers’ money to lobby policymakers in Sacramento to increase energy rates for customers and line the pockets of their shareholders. That’s their business model, and it’s been working out well for them, until now.Read more
What can we do to support communities facing anti-Asian violence? Our colleague Alejandra Cruz took the time to sit with this question after a discussion came up at the Law Center about the increased incidents of violence over the past few weeks. Many ideas emerged: We could do more to uplift movements working to end anti-Asian violence; we could bring in speakers and educators on the subject; and we could share the history of anti-Asian laws here in the US.
Ultimately, through her reflections, Alejandra reminded us that solidarity across race, ethnicity, class, and gender is fundamental to the solidarity economy movement. We’ve always been doing the work.
In campaigns to liberate housing from the speculative market,
In the inclusive and democratic bylaws of worker co-ops we support,
In the space we hold for other worker-self directed organizations,
In the spirit of all our teach-ins, workshops, webinars, and legal cafes,
In the political advocacy for marginalized communities to own and control their own energy and power sources,
Solidarity is integral to the DNA of this organization and this movement.Read more
California’s rich food culture owes much to the Filipinx, Hmong, Lao, Sikh, and many other Southeast Asian agricultural workers who have stewarded the land for generations. Equally important, Asian agricultural workers up and down the state have farmed and organized alongside Latinx agricultural workers. Mexican and Filipino solidarity is the foundation of California’s agricultural workers rights movement, and for Law Center Staff Attorney Alejandra Cruz, so much more.
Alejandra grew up in California’s Central Valley in a family of agricultural workers that were both Mexican and Filipino. She shares that community care was so strong that “solidarity was in our bones”, which helped her thrive despite economic insecurity and a racist school system. In this blog post, she shares the stories of deep care and solidarity of her childhood community as inspiration for us to move from exploitation to collective ownership to rematriation and liberation.Read more
Worker-ownership has emerged as an important strategy to keep people employed, doors open and communities served in the midst of COVID-19. A Rutgers study found that majority employee-owned companies outperformed traditional businesses in job retention, pay, benefits and workplace safety during the pandemic. Local and state governments are developing policies and funds to support this movement: New York City opened an employee-ownership hotline in December 2020 and the City of Santa Clara launched a Worker Cooperative Initiative in January of this year. As of 2019, the Berkeley Revolving Loan Fund can be used to finance worker cooperative conversions, has removed barriers to co-op access and has a minimum 10% lending target worker cooperatives or businesses converting to democratic worker ownership.
The Law Center will be closed for Chrysalis Week from May 3rd - May 7th 2021.
chrys·a·lis | \ ˈkri-sə-ləs
a protecting covering also : a sheltered state or stage of being or growth
The Law Center is taking a week off to re-energize and re-center ourselves as we go through a period of rapid growth and expansion. Although spring season is known as a time of blossoming, it is also an important time for renewal. We continue to learn from the wisdom of seasons by attuning to cycles of growth and rest.
It’s been an exhilarating month at the Law Center. One of our clients, Jocelyn Foreman is now the first renter in California to purchase her home through the new state law SB 1079! When her home went up for auction last month, Wedgewood Inc. made the $600,000 winning bid to purchase. Wedgewood is the company synonymous with artificial housing scarcity thanks to the organizing efforts of Moms4Housing. Luckily, Jocelyn’s well on her way to raising the funds to match Wedgewood’s bid, which will ultimately allow her to own her home because of SB 1079.Read more
By: Samantha Greyson, The Daily Texan
Excerpt: Charlotte Tsui, staff attorney for the Sustainable Economies Law Center, said a mutual aid fund is the final recipient of the gift donation, but it can be characterized as a gift agent for tax purposes and act as a means to transfer gifts from donors to people in need.
Read full article here.
(Originally published March 4, 2021.)
On March 11th, 2021, our Director of Economic Democracy, Ricardo Nuñez, and SELC Staff Attorney, Gregory Jackson, provided an introduction to the powerful ways that worker cooperatives equitably distribute wealth and why it matters for your cooperative’s taxes! Below, you'll find the recording and follow up resources that we shared with attendees.Read more
I look in the mirror and nervously adjust my hair, trying not to look too rigid. Opening my laptop, I take a deep breath before clicking the Zoom link to my first General Circle Meeting at Sustainable Economies Law Center. I’m just a few weeks into my new job. I’m nervous and excited to join the first gathering where I’ll be “meeting” all my new colleagues in one place.Read more
In the U.S., we celebrate Black History in February. Black history is vital to the ongoing project that is American democracy. “We have helped the country live up to its founding ideals”, writes 1619 Project journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. We celebrate local legends like Dennis Terry, filmmaker and co-founder of Mandela Foods Cooperative (1950 - 2020), who dedicated his life to supporting Bay Area cooperatives, publicizing grassroots economic activity and documenting the stories of Black Farmers. We celebrate American giants like anti-capitalist Ella Baker, who co-founded the Young Negroes Cooperative League to invigorate Black buying clubs and grow Black economic power autonomy; and Fannie Lou Hamer, who founded Freedom Farm Cooperative, a grassroots self-help effort to organize and feed as many Black families as she could.
For the Movement for Black Lives, February is Black Futures Month. Inspired by this visionary framing, we’re shining light on Black folks in our community who’re doing the work to make a better future for us all, right now. They are our mentors, advisors, collaborators, and colleagues.Read more
On February 4th, 2021, our Director of Economic Democracy, Ricardo Nuñez, provided a brief orientation for worker cooperatives and their supporters to the considerations around raising cooperative capital in California. Below, you'll find the recording and follow up resources that we shared with attendees.Read more