Workers rising: The push for city-supported worker coops is taking hold in these Bay Area cities

By Erin Baldassari of East Bay Times

[The Sustainable Economies Law Center was featured in the East Bay Times yesterday for its policy advocacy efforts in Berkeley following the Berkeley City Council's historic vote on June 26, 2019, to commit $100,000 towards worker cooperative programs and services. Read more about the important role worker cooperatives play in creating local job opportunities and the Law Center's contributions to Bay Area worker cooperative policy advocacy efforts.]

When Rendell “Ren” Boguiren got a job in college at a South Bay pizzeria, he wasn’t expecting it would become a career. Now, as a part-owner in the business, he can’t imagine leaving.

It was a transition made possible because co-founders Kirk Vartan and his wife, Marguerite Lee, made a decision in 2015 to sell the business they started, A Slice of New York, to their employees. Both continue to retain part ownership, along with 14 other worker-owners.

“I take a lot of pride in being an owner,” Borguiren said. “It’s something I never would have expected.”

Read full article here.

(Originally published June 30, 2019.)

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School's Out: Legal Apprentices Take Alternative Path To Bar

By Mike Lasusa of Law360

Vermont Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Skoglund wanted to be an artist.

It was the late 1970s. She had an undergraduate degree in sculpture. But part-time jobs in the art world, including a stint carving gravestones, weren’t putting enough money in the bank.


The future Justice Skoglund started looking for a licensed profession where she could work for herself. She was a skilled writer. The law seemed like a good fit.

But law school, not so much.

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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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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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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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The Green New Deal Means Power to the People

By Denise Fairchild & Anthony Giancatarino of The Progressive

The debate over the Green New Deal is growing more intense, but generating more heat than light. In some quarters, there is outright hysteria. (“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is coming for your hamburgers!”) But there is also a misperception across the political spectrum that the transition to green energy requires top-down, centralized control, as Mitch McConnell recently claimed.

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'New enterprise' experiment to help all people to stand on their own

By Kyunghyang Daily News

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Excerpt: There is a group in the United States that is changing laws to reorganize the inequality structure created by today's capitalism. The Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland, California.

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Food business incubator spot to open in Ashland

By Peter Hagerty of East Bay Times

ASHLAND — Leave Oakland’s Fruitvale District and travel south along East 14th Street beyond San Leandro, and food choices get limited to what’s available from a drive-through or inside a convenience store.

That’s about to change in a big way.

The Ashland Market & Cafe, a corner spot within an affordable apartment complex, will bring healthier meals to the low-income neighborhood while serving as an “incubator” for four up-and-coming food businesses at the same time.

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Berkeley Pledges Support and Funding for Worker Co-ops

By Jean Tepperman of East Bay Express

Excerpt: Andrea Hurd of Mariposa Gardening was nowhere near retirement when she decided a few years ago to convert her business to a worker cooperative. She had grown her company and developed her own style of ecological garden design. "As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I felt a huge passion for building a larger company," she recalled. But at the same time, she didn't want to become a full-time business manager like many successful contractors. Now, as a worker-owner of the Mariposa Gardening Cooperative, she shares management and gardening with other worker-owners.

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Leadership in Social Change: Janelle Orsi

By Vanessa Wakeman with The Wakeman LegacyJanelle_Orsi_Rebel_Lawyer

In 2010, The American Bar Association named Janelle Orsi a Legal Rebel, for being an attorney who is remaking the legal profession through the power of innovation...In this episode, Janelle shares examples of how her organization’s leadership practices create opportunities for every level of staff to be engaged in contributing to the organization.

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