Are We Diluting the Mission of Community Land Trusts?

Excerpt:Community control of land” sounds straightforward, but in practice it can be limited, fleeting, or difficult to achieve due to high property costs and the social, legal, and financial challenges of collectivizing property ownership.

Recognizing these challenges with independent housing cooperatives and the shortcomings of the CLT model, new visionaries are developing community-funded models for land ownership, like the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative and the Community Land Cooperative in development by Ecovillagers Alliance.

Read the full article here.

(Originally published August 30, 2019.)

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How to Run for Oakland City Council

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

Earlier this month, we hosted a Policy Cafe and Teach-In about How to Run for Oakland City Council.

Mari Rose Taruc and Noni Session shared their experiences running political campaigns for Oakland City Council seats, and the Law Center provided a step-by-step guide to running for office. Fun fact: you only need 50 people to sign a nomination petition to run for City Council! 

Check out the recording below to get the tea on:

  • How to secure endorsements,
  • Exclusive tips on campaign marketing, fundraising, and outreach, 
  • How to handle horrors of campaign management like a seasoned pro.

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People power: A growing number of groups are flipping the Bay Area’s insane housing market on its head

By Erin Baldassari, The Mercury News

The Law Center's Tia Taruc-Myers at her home.

Tia, right, and Chris Taruc-Myers, prepare breakfast at home in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. The married couple along with other residents in the rent controlled building they live in worked with the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative to purchase the property, after their landlord decided to sell.

Excerpt: In less than a year, a nascent Oakland organization grew from a small staff with some bright ideas and a website into group that is stewarding two properties for permanently affordable housing, with plans to soon acquire a third.

How did they do it? By relying on a lot of people, a new model for investment and some innovative partnerships. But in turning a novel concept for developing affordable properties into a reality, the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative joined a growing number of organizations in the Bay Area challenging the status quo of the region’s skyrocketing housing costs.

The cooperative, called East Bay PREC for short, shares the same goals as many housing cooperatives and community and trusts:  acquiring and maintaining properties as permanently affordable homes and businesses. But the for-profit company isn’t either a cooperative or a trust. It’s a combination of multiple existing models for investment and ownership all rolled together.

Read the full article here.

(Originally published August 25, 2019.)

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Why I’m asking you to donate $10 instead of $100

Written by Tia Katrina Taruc-Myers, Director of Legal Education

For our #PeoplePoweredLaw campaign, I set a personal goal of recruiting 10 Community Members to donate $10 per month as opposed to recruiting 10 donors to donate $100 today. Here’s a few reasons why:

1) Receiving Many Small Donations Makes Our Budget More “People-Powered” 

Check out the section on financial transparency on our mission page here. As you can see, we’re primarily grant-funded. But as many other nonprofits could also attest to, grant funding can be here one day and gone the next.

A few foundations give to us yearly, but a lot of them are just for one time projects. That means we can’t count on them as a steady source of income every year. In contrast, monthly donors tend to continue giving.

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2019 Solidarity Economy Tour

Prospera and the Sustainable Economies Law CenterOn July 29th, 2019, Sustainable Economies Law Center's Summer interns and a few staff embarked on our annual Solidarity Economies Tour! The Solidarity Economies Tour is a one day adventure where Summer interns of the Law Center visit cooperatives, land trusts, urban farms, and other spaces in the Bay Area that are the seeds of an economy we are trying to cultivate through our work; an economy built community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment.

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

“[Santa Clara is] the Center of What’s Possible, so 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 two 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 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

Kirk Vartan, co-founder of A Slice of New York, puts a slice of pizza on a plate at his pizza restaurant in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, June 28, 2019. Berkeley will be adding worker co-ops to businesses eligible for loans, providing a new lifeline to companies that have a hard time securing financing any other way. The Santa Clara City Council will host a study session to consider what it can do to support worker-owned businesses. Vartan is hoping Santa Clara will then follow in Berkeley’s lead. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group) 

Excerpt: While employee-owned businesses are a small minority of all companies in the Bay Area and in the nation, it’s a model local cities are increasingly eyeing as one to invest in and sustain. The city of Berkeley became one of the first in the Bay Area earlier this week to directly support the worker-owned business model, when its City Council voted to approve $100,000 over two years to help existing companies as they transition to employee-owned entities. And on Tuesday, Berkeley’s Loan Administration Board will consider changes to a revolving loan fund to make it easier for worker coops to take advantage of the funds, too.

In the South Bay, Vartan has been pushing the Santa Clara City Council to do the same. He helped organize a study session for July 9 that will feature presentations by Project Equity and the Sustainable Economies Law Center, among others. In addition to working with Berkeley and Santa Clara, the law center helped spearhead efforts in Oakland in 2015 that resulted in the city formally recognizing worker cooperatives. A push for financial support from the city is currently stalled, said Yassi Eskandari-Qajar, the law center’s policy director.

Read the 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. 

2019-06-25_Berkeley_City_Council_budget_meeting_group_photo_cropped.jpeg

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

Excerpt: Yassi Eskandari, an attorney and policy director at the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland who completed an apprenticeship in 2017, says her work at the center has included advocating and raising awareness about legal apprenticeships. She often gets emails and phone calls asking about them, she says, but she doesn’t recommend them in every case. “I would caution people who are interested in doing this,” she said. “It’s really challenging.”

An additional obstacle for would-be apprentices is simply finding someone willing to be a mentor. “It is hard to find other lawyers to do this,” Janelle Orsi, the executive director and co-founder of the SELC, told Law360. “It’s a big commitment.”

Read the full article here.

(Originally published June 16, 2019.)

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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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