How does an organization keep operations flowing when multiple colleagues are out on sabbatical or family leave? A knee-jerk reaction might be to hire temp workers to fill their roles. That was certainly our reaction when we realized a few colleagues would be in and out this year.Read more
Is it possible to save for retirement and grow our investments, while also repairing harm done to communities and ecosystems? How can we plan for retirement while building a vibrant world that we'll be excited to retire into? And by the way, what IS retirement? We're inviting folks to join us in grappling with these big questions in a series of upcoming events with The Next Egg on February 17, March 7, and April 4.
The Next Egg launched in 2019, when Sustainable Economies Law Center teamed up with LIFT Economy and author Michael Shuman. Americans have $37 trillion in retirement savings, and we wanted to tap that for the forces of good. Our vision was to create tools, build communities, and support investment ecosystems necessary so that millions of us can move retirement savings out of Wall Street and into our local communities. We focused on teaching about and giving people access to self-directed IRAs and 401(k)s.
But in 2021, we began to question many assumptions underlying The Next Egg. You can read about the 5 unsafe assumptions we identified here. For one, we began to suspect that 401(k)s and IRAs are irreparably broken, which you can read about here. All of this means that The Next Egg will be revising its priorities in 2022, after a 6-month long period of inquiry and dialog, which will include deep explorations with small groups, as well as larger public conversations.
We hope you'll join us for these conversations!
Can We Repair Harm and Still Grow Our Investments? Thursday, February 17, 2022 at 01:00 PM PST
Can We Imagine A World Where Personal Security Doesn't Require Individual Savings? Monday, March 07, 2022 at 11:00 AM PST
What IS Retirement Anyway? Monday, April 04, 2022 at 11:00 AM PDT
We also invite you to join online conversations at TheNextEgg.org. After a month of membership in the network, we ask that people contribute $9.99 per month to help sustain this project. If the cost puts a strain on you, just email [email protected] and ask for a link to sign up at no cost.
Organizational structure and culture are never static. As a governing body, the Law Center's “General Circle” — which includes all full-time staff members — has moved through massive changes over the years. We’ve held space collectively for invigorating and challenging discussions that tested and grew our relationships. We spent countless hours making decisions within well-defined structures we designed. New people have added energy and contributed ideas to our shared spaces, forever shifting our organizational culture; while long-time staffers have left, taking with them trusted leadership and wisdom that had guided us through the seasons of organizational change.
With all this change, we realized our “way of doing things” wasn’t serving us quite so well anymore. Some people felt governance burn out. Some folks felt they didn’t have the capacity to be fully present for governance and programmatic work. While some felt that we had grown so big, our decision-making was slow and inefficient.
After the careful synthesis of these feelings by a few diligent and caring staff members, we kicked off the new year eager to experiment and open to stretching our idea of collective stewardship, piloting a new way to make collective decisions. A smaller governing body made up of a rotation of General Circle staff members — the Stewardship Committee – will be empowered to make the majority of our major decisions moving forward, with the door always remaining open for any GC members who want to vote on a decision. With a spirit of renewal, we all agreed to hold this new way of doing things lightly.
What better way to start off the new year than by assessing our collective governance practices and shifting what isn’t working anymore? But it can be daunting to change as an organization, or be the lone individual bringing new ideas. If you or your colleagues need some inspiration on how you might run your organizations differently, check out our page of worker self-directed non-profit resources here.Read more
We love to read here at the Law Center! So we’re back with another end of year round up of all our favorite books we read in 2021. Our tastes range from memoir to speculative fiction to historical – but all books that push us to stretch our sense of self. Open yourself up to new worlds and new ideas with this rich reading list.Read more
We continue to live inside of our mission to cultivate a new legal landscape that supports community resilience, grassroots economic empowerment and thriving communities. These uncertain times we’ve all been navigating have driven us to center interdependence in everything that we do. Throughout 2021, as we’ve deepened our relationships with a vast network of legal workers, culture bearers, movement activists, coop workers and more, we find ourselves grateful to be in community with others who are invested in our collective interdependence.Read more
By: Carey L. Biron, Thomson Reuters Foundation News
Over the next five years, Hernandez and her family went through a period of unstable housing, including nearly three years squatting. Then, last year, the landlord of the multi-unit house they were living in tried to push tenants out.
As Hernandez researched ways to fight back, she found the Radical Real Estate Law School, a new initiative helping people become housing lawyers by having them apprentice with practicing attorneys and eventually take the bar exam, bypassing traditional, expensive law programs.
Started by the nonprofit Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) last year, the initiative aims to create lawyers versed in nontraditional tools such as land trusts and cooperatives to help address the country's affordable housing crisis.
Read full article here.
(Originally published December 14, 2021.)
At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, people instantly recognized that government aid and charity would be insufficient to support their communities. Within weeks, communities all over the country began organizing, at a scale unseen since the Great Depression, to build mutual aid networks. Many of these groups adopt an explicit lens of racial justice, as they grow in parallel with national uprisings. Transfers of money, food, and favors radically reconfigured the flow of resources in communities and reshaped how households could meet their needs. Now, a year and a half later, how have these groups evolved?Read more
Over 100 people attended the webinar we hosted with Sogorea Te’ Land Trust on practical considerations for how to rematriate Lisjan Ohlone land to Sogorea Te’ Land Trust. See the full webinar here and the slides here!
Inés Ixierda of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust opened with an overview of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust’s history and vision for rematriation. As Inés shared, rematriation is “not just signing over land,” but a “transformative” process. “It's powerful to see the work people are doing internally...People are making new choices that have generational impacts.”Read more
How do you spread ownership and control across a group of people? On November 9th, 2021, our Director of Economic Democracy, Ricardo Nuñez, sped through a very short introduction to the principles and practices of democratic governance and management for worker cooperatives and worker self-directed nonprofits in this 30 minute teach-in! Below, you'll find the recording and follow up resources that we shared with attendees.Read more
By: Mwende Hinojosa, Nonprofit Quarterly
Tired of ongoing black disenfranchisement and gentrification, this community group came together in the spirit of Black and Brown power. They were made up of members from groups that were already trying to make an impact in Deep East Oakland—Repaired Nations, Black Cultural Zone, The Deep Grocery Coop, Feed the Village, Sustainable Economies Law Center—as well as unaffiliated community members who were artists, healers, organizers, activists, and entrepreneurs. At the tail end of a second Black out-migration from the Bay, the group felt the name of their collective needed to send a clear message to their families, neighbors, and future collective members: Oaxxanda.
Read full article here.
(Originally published November 11, 2021.)
Thank you to all who attended #Coopalooza week last month! We had nearly 300 people participate in our workshops, hosted more than a dozen partners and collaborators in conversations, discussions, and panels, and learned so much from all the great questions you all had throughout the week. And thanks to your support, we made our $20,000 grassroots fundraising goal! We couldn’t do this work without support from people like you. If you’re feeling extra generous, you can still donate here :-)Read more
LONG LIVE WORKPLACE DEMOCRACY. LONG LIVE WORKER POWER.
#Coopalooza was a week of events held the last week of September 2021, exploring our vision to redistribute wealth and power and dismantle the oppressive dominant economic system by creating more worker controlled enterprises. Nearly 300 people came to our events; we hosted over a dozen partners, collaborators, and panelists; and we grew our imagination as to what a world where work is governed and controlled by workers might look like.Read more
By: Jessica Kutz , High Country News
"One such organization is the Sustainable Economies Law Center, based in Oakland, California. The nonprofit has been around for more than a decade, providing legal tools to worker and housing cooperatives in the region, among other initiatives.
High Country News recently spoke with Chris Tittle, the center’s director of land and housing justice, and Dorian Payán, co-director of the Radical Real Estate Law School, about their work, and about the possible housing and land futures that can exist under these alternative models."
Read full article here.
(Originally published October 5, 2021.)
by Natalie Orenstein, The Oaklandside
Our inspiring friends at Homefulness/POOR Magazine have encountered every legal barrier imaginable as they work to build housing for Oakland's unhoused community. The Law Center has partnered with them to address the latest
Read full article here.
(Originally published October 20, 2021.)
By: OSCAR PERRY ABELLO, Next City
Excerpt: “We’re trying to hold our ground by not defining the entire process up front or acting like it’s our job to do that,” says Janelle Orsi, staff attorney and co-founder at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, which helped convene the collective starting in May. “What we’re defining instead is a participatory process we’re going to facilitate, giving a lot of examples on how it might play out. We’re treating the budget more like a menu that we could all order off of, as opposed to a budget of exactly what we’re going to do.”
Read full article here.
(Originally published August 24, 2021.)