Farmers, Chefs & Lawyers: Building an Ecology of One

By Patrick Lydon, republished from The Nature of Cities

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Photo: Natural Farmer Yoshikazu Kawaguchi at his Akame Farm in Nara, Japan. (Patrick Lydon) 

Patrick Lydon, Founder and Director of SocieCity.org, a socially-engaged network of artists, writers, and sustainability practitioners, writes about the the concept of an "Ecology of One" and why farmers, chefs and lawyers need to work together to build a resilient economic system. 

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2016 Solidarity Economy Tour

By Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) Director of Economic Democracy, Ricardo Nuñez

There has been a constant stream of depressing and demoralizing news this summer. A dysfunctional political system, continuing police violence against our black and brown brothers and sisters, and an economic system that continues to exacerbate income inequality. At times like these, we only need to look within our own communities to find hope and renewal. SELC Summer Institute interns teamed up with interns from Project Equity and the Community Economic Justice Clinic at EBCLC to take a day to visit spaces of an economy that redirects wealth and control back to communities; an economy based on solidarity. Below, our summer interns share their reflections on the spaces we visited, spaces where individuals are taking collective action to live out the solidarity economy SELC and our allies are working to build. 

Thank you to Design Action Collective, the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives, Mandela Food Cooperative, Arizmendi Lakeshore Cooperative, the Addison Court Housing Cooperative and land trust, and Phat Beets for sharing your stories of resilience and solidarity! 

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Homeownership is Dead! Long Live the Permanent Real Estate Cooperative!

By Sustainable Economies Law Center Executive Director, Janelle Orsi

 

Imagine that a group of people works hard to fill their neighborhood with urban farms, bike lanes, parks, murals, community services, and education programs. Next, imagine that those same people are forced to move away. Ouch, that bites.

hotel eating houseSadly, this is real: Improving the livability of a previously disinvested neighborhood creates opportunities for speculators, landlords, and developers to increase rents and drive up the cost of property, often causing displacement of the very people who made the neighborhood livable to begin with.

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Expanding the vision for a new economy: Filipino Americans and the cooperative movement

By Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) Summer Intern, Adrien Salazar 

 

Communities of color have played and continue to play a pivotal role in realizing alternative economies in response to chronic economic exclusion in the United States. The history of civil rights is entwined with the history of cooperative economics in the United States. Jessica Gordon Nembhard, in her book Collective Courage, demonstrates this history in her account of black cooperatives and collectives in the United States. Nembhard documents the many black communities that organized cooperatives by necessity to build economic power in marginalized communities.

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Can nonprofits be the change they want to see?

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In a world that desperately needs change, what if we could unleash the full changemaking potential of nonprofit organizations everywhere? It’s time to explore the power of worker self-directed nonprofits (WSDNs) to cultivate more diverse leaders, accountable organizations, and equitable workplaces that represent the same values of justice and democracy that we work to create in the world.

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The Food-Sharing Economy Is Delicious And Illegal—Will It Survive?

Sarah Kessler of Fast Company covers the obstacles facing home-cooks and the online platforms they use. She follows the story of the start up Josephine, and what they're doing to change the laws of homemade food regulation so that they can resume operations. Sustainable Economies Law Center and our Resilient Communities Legal Cafe is mentioned briefly. 

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The results are in!

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We did it! Our People-Powered Economies campaign raised over $30k in 30 days through the incredible generosity and commitment of almost 300 supporters! We also received a full $6,000 match from the Fund 4 Democratic Communities: $100 for all 60 of our new recurring monthly donors. Thanks so much to our amazing community of friends, allies, and community members -- this is what #PeoplePoweredEconomies look like!   

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Interning at a Worker Self-Directed Nonprofit

Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) Fall and Spring Legal Intern, Simon Mont, reflects on his experience researching - and participating in - a worker self-directed nonprofit.

I didn’t know much about SELC’s governance structure when I began interning. All I knew is that I had been offered the position by the founder of the organization, Janelle Orsi, but that she needed to check with the staff to make sure it was OK to bring me on. She mentioned that SELC had some sort of collaborative governance but didn’t really go into. A few days later, she suggested that I read “Reinventing Organizations” by Frederic Laloux in order to prepare for my position. The book described how the philosophy and structure of human organizations has changed over time, and how that shift relates to human development and our understandings of who we are and how we relate to others. As I read its account of innovative organizations that blend empowerment, democracy, and teamwork to succeed, I got a bit more insight into exactly what I was getting myself into. I started to understand that SELC’s vision for a new economy didn’t just require us to do new things; we had to do them in new ways.

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2016 Solidarity Fund Recipients

Cooperation Richmond and Planting Justice! Comrades in the struggle for economic democracy!

Cooperative economies aren't created in a vacuum, nor do they take root without the participation of broader community involvement. Every year during the month of May, we ask our friends, families, and allies to become monthly contributing members of the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) and support the cultivation of the legal roots of just and resilient economies.

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What will it take to Build a Local Food Movement?

Photo: chicagopatchworkfarms.com

Lauren Gurley of In These Times writes about what's needed to build a local, sustainable food movement in Chicago and Illinois. A Sustainable Economies Law Center event in Chicago that brought together a stakeholders in the local food movement is mentioned. 

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Three Hippies and an Oven, 2.0 - a Karin Wells documentary

Alvarado St. Bakery is a worker-owned bakery in Petaluma, California that produces 50,000 loaves of bread a day.

Photo: Alvarado St. Bakery in Petaluma, California (Karin Wells)

Karin Wells of CBC Radio explores the spread of worker cooperatives in the Bay Area. Sustainable Economies Law Centers' Worker coop legislation is mentioned, and Yassi Eskandari-Qajar, SELC's Policy Director, is quoted. 

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Calling all fans of local seed in California!

The California Seed Exchange Democracy Act will be up for a vote in the State Senate Agriculture Committee on June 21. We need your help to pass this bill to legalize seed sharing!

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Energy transition is inevitable, #PeoplePower is not.

There's not a day to waste. As we approach the summer of 2016, the pace of climate change and the shrinking window to halt it is alarming. But at the same time, the tireless work of defiantly hopeful activists and community members like you has also meant that we are closer today to a more inspiring solution to break free from an extractive economy: community-owned clean energy.

It is clear that every day counts in the shift to a regenerative economy, so at the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) we've expanded our effort to promote community energy. But we need your help to sustain our work. Donate now to help create people-powered economies where people own and control the energy they need!

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Forming a Worker Coop: LLC or Cooperative Corporation?

By Sara Stephens, Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) Housing and Cooperatives Attorney

We want to create a worker cooperative…what legal entity should we form?

This is probably the most common question I hear at our Resilient Communities Legal Cafes. Lots of entrepreneurs come to us wanting to form a worker-owned business, but they are unsure what legal structure will work best for them. Are they required to form as a cooperative corporation? What if they’re not ready to incorporate yet? Can they form as an LLC or some other entity and still be a cooperative? What are the benefits and drawbacks of the entity options?

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How can people-powered solutions build community wealth?

We launched our #PeoplePoweredEconomies campaign exactly two weeks ago and the response has been incredible: $19,365 raised and our community of members has grown to over 150 people! This is what a people-powered economy looks like - resourcing our movements from the bottom up. Thank you to everyone who has pitched in already! If you haven’t yet, there’s still time - join us today and help us raise $30k in 30 days!

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