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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Enthusiastically Sustainable Asian-Americans

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

OK. So maybe our blog post title isn’t as eye-catching as the book club favorite (and blockbuster movie) Crazy Rich Asians... But in our world, we work with so many Enthusiastically Sustainable Asian-Americans that we couldn’t pass up Asian Pacific American Heritage Month without highlighting some of them for you!

We proudly present: Adrien Salazar, Victoria Yu, Rob Yanagida, Onki Kwan, Crystal Huang, lora jo foo, and Joel Kim!   We’re pleased and honored to partner with each of these amazing enthusiasts:

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Farmers of Color May Soon Get More Support in California

By Nadra Nittle of Civil Eats

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“Farmers of color are the fastest-growing [group of] farmers in the country,” said Neil Thapar, food and farm program director for the Sustainable Economies Law Center, which is a member of the California Farmer Justice Collaborative... “As our farming population diversifies, those are the people we need to serve. We need to help them continue and maintain strong local agricultural economies, which allows for more local food to be grown to satisfy the culturally relevant food needs of a more diverse population.”

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The Cooperative Professionals Guild will convene its first independent conference this month

By Sara Stephens, Law Center Staff Attorney

From May 30-June 1, 2019, cooperative attorneys and accountants will gather in Chicago for New Horizons and Best Practices for Cooperative Professionals, where they will learn from one another’s practices, initiate newcomers into cooperative law and financial topics, and dig into legal and accounting challenges confronting their clients. 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. The Cooperative Professionals Guild aims to address these gaps.

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This City Has A Radical Plan To Get Rid Of Bosses

By Robert Raymond of Huffington Post

BERKELEY, California ― In a 4,000-square-foot industrial space tucked away in a West Berkeley neighborhood, a team of glass blowers is hard at work. In one corner, a young man named Sam is repairing a piece of laboratory glassware used for cannabis distillation, the bright orange flames from his lathe dancing just inches from his face. In another, a woman named Laurel is concentrating on fusing powdered glass “frits.”

They both work for Adams & Chittenden Scientific Glass, a company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. But later this month, Sam and Laurel won’t be employees anymore; they’ll be co-owners of the company, along with eight of their fellow workers.

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Laws by the People

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

When I'm not hosting Legal Cafes and planning teach-ins for the Law Center, I spend my free time as an active member of the Community Democracy Project! (CDP is an all-volunteer campaign working to turn the power structure right-side up by putting the people of Oakland in charge of the city budget.)

We partnered with CDP because we share the belief that everyone can be a policy maker!

The problem is that so many folks are too intimidated to get involved in politics. That's why we hosted another Policy Cafe last month. CDP members Victoria Yu and Kyle Donnelly gave a presentation on how to run a local ballot initiative campaign and shared their vision to amend the city charter to bring participatory budgeting to Oakland. 

Check out the video recordings of the Policy Cafe presentation below!

Part 1: 

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Member-Owned Community Solar Poised For National Adoption

By Charles W. Thurston of CleanTechnica

Community solar projects are sweeping the nation, enabling individuals to benefit from solar energy even if they don’t have panels on their house or apartment building. The financial design of a community solar project may vary widely, however, which can make or break any savings that a system could yield for the consumer.

One model that has recently emerged in Oakland is that of a member-owned cooperative that shares a residential installation and includes both savings and investment dividends. This model, which can stretch to include a variety of installations within the coop, could help accelerate community solar projects in dense urban areas, where siting larger commercial-scale PV systems can be problematic.

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Seeding a 100-year vision for land justice in the Bay Area

By Chris Tittle, Law Center Director of Organizational Resilience

In March 2018, several of us sat in a rooftop garden overlooking downtown Oakland. As we discussed the future of the region, the city skyline suddenly appeared as a timeline, revealing the past and future imaginations of developers, city planners, and investors. We could literally see the concrete visions of developers from 100 years ago towering next to the visions of today’s developers unfolding before our very eyes. Taken together, these buildings represented much more than just a place to work or sleep, but an idea about how life should be lived and who the city is for. Undoubtedly, these people have a long-term vision for this city -- and their visions are backed by capital and political power.

Participants visiting The Cultural Conservancy's new land project

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Deepening the Nonprofit Democracy Network: Tools for Collective Self-Governance

By Sue Bennett and Chris Tittle, Co-directors of the Law Center's Worker Self-Directed Nonprofits Program

On March 27-29, 2019 the Law Center and an amazing team of facilitators and co-organizers hosted the second Nonprofit Democracy Network: Tools for Collective Self-Governance gathering. Over three days at the Omni Commons in Oakland, 60 people from 26 social justice organizations from around the country dove deep into the practices, structures, relationships, and cultures of workplace democracy.

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Workers Run Oakland… and the world!

Last month Sustainable Economies Law Center energized over thirty people to run on behalf of our organization at the Oakland Running Festival. Our ‘Workers Run Oakland’ campaign raised over $12,000 for workplace democracy, which enabled us to support our Solidarity Fund Recipient, Bay Area Black Worker Center, with ~$600.   

Our goal was to raise awareness about the legal education, advocacy, research, and advice the Law Center provides for community members at the frontlines of worker cooperatives and worker self-directed nonprofits...and have fun doing it! To spread our vision for a worker-run Oakland, we hosted a bunch of events to celebrate all of the wonderful workers we know: 

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Thanks to our Partners and Collaborators: