Who Can Make Policy? (March 2018 Newsletter)

A while back we asked ourselves, who can make policy? Our answer: EVERYONE! 

Building Movements by Building Community: Transformative Policymakers Launches!

Policy CafeWe want to live in a world where everyone can directly participate in decisions that shape their economic wellbeing: where everyone has the option to work in a worker-owned business, to create healthy soil, to live in democratically-controlled housing, to be a member of solar cooperatives, food cooperatives, and cooperative banks. More than ever, when massive corporations wield incredible power to craft policy for their own benefit, we urgently need to put everyday people back into the driver’s seat of policymaking. 

That’s why, two weeks ago, we convened 24 worker-owners, cooperative advocates, and food and environmental justice community members from across California to join our inaugural Transformative Policymakers program! This group split into two Policy Teams, one focusing on worker cooperative policy advocacy and the other focusing on community compost law and policy. Transformative Policymakers is a project to catalyze a movement in which people wield policy advocacy as a tool to create economic democracy. Find more info about our Transformative Policymakers program here.

Bon Voyage, Eunice Kwon! Welcome, Eunice Kwon!

In January, the Law Center waved a bittersweet goodbye to our dear coworker, Eunice Kwon. We’re so thankful for the care, attention, and commitment she brought to us and our community, and the incredible work she did as a core member of several circles, including: Resilient Communities Legal Cafe, Policy, Administration, Finance, Abundance, and Communications. We wish her all the best as she moves forward to continue pushing for increased representation and participation for Asian-American students in the Bay Area.


And, we’re excited to announce that Eunice recently became the newest member of our Board of Directors! We look forward to working with Eunice in this new capacity and benefitting from her wisdom and experience to support the Law Center as we grow.

Guess what? That means we’re hiring!

That's right! We're looking for a Bay Area resident interested in a full-time position (which we define as 30 hours per week), to join our dynamic, democratic, and delightful organization. This person should be a good communicator and excited to help us expand and improve our flagship direct services program, the Resilient Communities Legal Cafe, and our new and expanding Transformative Policymakers Policy Cafes. Additionally, we want this new team member to have relevant skills and interest to support either our organization's public communications OR grassroots fundraising teams (depending on background, experience, and/or interest in one of these areas). We are accepting applications through March 7, 2018!

People of color, transgender and gender nonconforming people, people from poor and working class backgrounds, people with disabilities, and women are encouraged to apply.


Resilient Communities Legal Cafes (East Bay)

The Resilient Communities Legal Cafe provides direct legal advice, workshops, teach-ins, discussions, and legal services to businesses and organizations that are trying to make their communities a better place to live and thrive. Come, ask us your questions, and join others from your neighborhood who are taking their livelihoods, communities, and economies back! See dates and locations here.

Montana Cooperative Summit 2018 (March 7-8, Fairmont Hot Springs, Montana)

Montana’s 2018 Cooperative Summit is focused on Cooperatives Transforming Rural Communities. Our Director of Economic Democracy, Ricardo Nuñez, will discuss how Montana’s housing situation compares with that of other western states and will provide a global perspective on worker cooperatives and why this kind of democratic workplace is increasingly popular in the U.S. Find more info here.

Farm Law 101 (March 9th, Davis)

Forming a business the right way, negotiating sales contracts, hiring workers, filing taxes, practicing food safety measures...the legal issues involved in farming sometimes feel overwhelming. But, developing a strong, legally resilient farm business is easier than you think. Our friends at Farm Commons are hosting this one-day workshop, where you can also find Food & Farm Staff Attorney, Neil Thapar, who will present on cooperative business and land ownership structures for farmers. Find more info here.

UC Agriculture & Natural Resources Urban Agriculture Workshop (March 16th, Davis)

Are you an urban farmer evaluating potential marketing venues and methods? A gardener who is thinking of selling some of your produce? A non-profit organization involved in producing food for your community? Then join our Food & Farm Staff Attorney, Neil Thapar, in this special one-day workshop on Friday, March 16th from 9 am to 4 pm! Find more info here.

19th Annual Bay Area Seed Interchange Library Seed Swap (March 16th, Berkeley)

The Law Center is proud to sponsor the 19th Annual Bay Area Seed Exchange, hosted by the Bay Area Seed Interchange Library (BASIL). This year’s swap features speakers on permaculture and seed law (that’s us at the Law Center!), experts from local seed libraries, a potluck dinner, and hundreds of seeds to share. Seeds from all around the Bay Area will be available to swap. Take home a whole new garden! Find more info here.

Cooperative Solutions to Senior Housing (March 19th, Berkeley)

The rates of homelessness and widespread housing insecurity among elders are unprecedented and will only continue to grow as the shortage of affordable housing plagues society’s most vulnerable. While there are no easy solutions, this teach-in will provide some updates about new shared housing options and supportive services that might be of assistance in planning for the “third chapter." >>> RSVP here.

Rethinking Nonprofits: Aligning Equity and Justice with Your Organizational Structure (March 22nd, Oakland)

As nonprofits and movement workers committed to social transformation, how can we embody the change we want to see and create more effective, accountable, and equitable organizations as we do it? This training will explore how to infuse the governance, management, and operational practices of our organizations with our values of social, racial, gender, and ecological justice through a commitment to deep democracy. >>> RSVP here.

BIOCYCLE WEST COAST18 (March 27-28, San Diego)

Sue Bennett, who is part of our Compost Circle is attending this conference to connect with folks from the California Alliance of Community Composting a group we’ve been supporting for the last 2 years.  While this conference is attended by some of the biggest waste haulers we want to be sure local community composters are included in municipal and statewide planning and policy making. Find more info here.

Growing Opportunity Farm Finance Expo (March 28, West Sacramento)

Our Grassroots Finance Staff Attorney, Cameron Rhudy, will be participating in this Expo hosted by California FarmLink. This event will include lenders, farmers and trainers who will discuss agricultural loans; alternative sources of capital; demystifying debt; preparing loan applications; and offer interactive farm financial management activities. Find more info here.

Policy Cafe & Teach-In (April 4th, Oakland)

Do you have an idea to change your community for the better? Do you have questions about policymaking on a local or state level? Do you want to explore your inner policymaker? Come get answers, ideas, and strategies from our center's staff, experienced attorneys and policymakers!  >>> RSVP here.

Farming Collectively (April 7, Santa Cruz)

The average age of farmers in the United States is 60 years old, and an estimated 400 million acres of farmland is poised to change hands over the next two decades. Small scale cooperative farming is on the rise. The time has never been better for collective land stewardship! Join our Food & Farm Staff Attorney, Neil Thapar, on  April 7th, from 5:30 - 9pm at Live Oak Grange in Santa Cruz. Find more info here.

2018 California Co-op & Cooperative Professionals Conference (April 29-30, San Diego)

Join the Sustainable Economies Law Center at the annual California Cooperative Conference in San Diego diver into how cooperatives revitalize and fortify local economies by creating jobs, housing, and locally owned businesses! We are excited that the Conference is also hosting the National Cooperatives Professionals Group Conference. This conference within a conference is intended to elevate the standard of services that coop accountants and legal professionals provide through Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits. Find more info here.

2018 National Worker Coop Conference (September 14-16, Los Angeles)

SAVE THE DATE! Worker cooperators, unions, developers, allies, funders, investors, and visionaries — join us this September! This moment in U.S. history is pivotal — we are taking this opportunity to catalyze workers across the country, joining with the larger cooperative and economic justice movements to create and maintain stable, empowering jobs through employee ownership. This three day conference in Los Angeles, California will make space for connection, education, skill-building, and sharing, for worker-owners and allied leaders who work to improve the lives of workers and their families. Find more info here.
In Solidarity & Cooperation, 
Cameron, Charlotte, Chris, Christina, Elizabeth, Janelle, Julie, Neil, Sara, Subin, Sue, Ricardo, & Yassi

Thanks to our Partners and Collaborators: