SEED LIBRARIANS ARE FIGHTING TO PROTECT THE U.S.’S RESILIENT AND DIVERSE FOOD SYSTEM

By Mark Schapiro for Pacific Standard

Illustration: Edel Rodriguez

Excerpt: Inside every seed library — and there are more than 400 of them now — is another tale. Here are seeds that have been locally cultivated, saved, and passed along from farmer to farmer. They are repositories of genetic information that have been quietly spreading across America during the last decade. They tell the story of how, at a time of unprecedented climatic stress on our food supply, people are fighting to expand their range of crop choices to respond to changing climate conditions.

As one company after another is purchased by the giants that now dominate the seed trade — most notably Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont-Pioneer, which together have purchased hundreds of locally based seed companies over the past 20 years — the libraries are defying efforts to homogenize the seeds.

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California Could Allow People To Sell Meals Made In Their Home Kitchen

By Julia Watts for CBS SF Bay Area

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Excerpt: Christina Oatfield, of the Sustainable Economies Law Center, says she’s all for giving home cooks more opportunities to use their skills.

“There are so many people who have an interest in selling homemade food,” Oatfield said.

But she wants those who do the actual cooking to get a bigger share of the pie, not the third-parties enabling them to sell.

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3 Steps to Building Just Transition Now with a Permanent Community Energy Cooperative

By Subin Varghese for P2P Foundation

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Excerpt:

Step 1. Start now

Don’t wait. That’s rule #1 for living in a world where we’re already feeling the impacts of climate change; millions of lives and livelihoods are at risk — or stand to benefit from solutions — in this and future decades. We needed a just transition of our energy economy yesterday. And while there are challenges to universal access and equitably shared benefits from clean energy, there are steps we can take today to start building projects, jobs, and improved health in local communities.

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Cooperative California Cities and the “New Economy”: Learning From History, Starting from Success

By Jason Spicer for CoLab Radio

Excerpt: The “New Economy” label is used by a rising generation seeking to promote economic democracy, and build an economy which achieves the three e’s of the famed “urban planner’s triangle”: environmental sustainability, social equity, and economic development. For those interested in actionable, place-based strategies towards this end, the San Francisco Bay Area is currently a hotbed of activity, featuring a rich ecosystem of worker cooperatives, employee-owned firms, support and advocacy organizations, and local government initiatives, making it an exciting case study for those in other city-regions. What can those seeking to grow a “New Economy” learn from the Bay Area?

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Cottage food industry may get boost from bill

By Jonathan Kauffman for the San Francisco Chronicle

Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

Photo Credit: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

Excerpt: This week, Assemblymen Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella (Riverside County), and Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, are introducing AB626, the Homemade Food Operations Act, a bill that would allow home cooks to sell hot, prepared foods directly to customers. Though it is backed by Josephine, a for-profit Oakland online startup that connects home cooks with nearby customers, the bill could have a much broader impact on low-income and immigrant communities across the state.

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Bay Area law center to receive ABA award for improving access to legal services

Excerpt: 

CHICAGO, Jan. 17, 2017 — The ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services has selected the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) of Oakland, Calif., to receive its 2017 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access.

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Do Nonprofits Need Bosses?

By LUCAS MCGRANAHAN for Democracy at Work

Excerpt: The question is how far democracy can be embedded into a nonprofit organization. This question is now being taken up by Oakland’s Sustainable Economies Law Center, a self-described ‘worker self-directed nonprofit.’ Because the Law Center supports worker cooperatives, housing cooperatives, community renewable energy cooperatives, and other forms of economic democracy, they consider it important to practice workplace democracy themselves. In the words of staff member Chris Tittle, “distributing leadership throughout our organization has undoubtedly led to us to be more creative in our work, more inclusive in our perspectives, and more accountable to each other, our communities, and our partners.”

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SF Deals Major Blow to Airbnb with Tough Short-Term Rental Law

Excerpt: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed one of the most stringent restrictions on short-term rentals in the country Tuesday, barring hosts from having paying guests in a room, house or entire apartment for more than 60 days a year.

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Agrarian Trust: Finding Land for the Next Generation of Farmers

By John Collins for In These Times

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(Photo Credit: FPG / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Excerpt: 

“The local regional food economy we want, needs territory,” says farmer, activist and grassroots organizer Severine von Tscharner Fleming. “Global demands and pressures have lengthened supply chains and concentrated control—water pumped from our aquifers irrigates low-value crops destined for distant markets. Cattle raised in family operations are sold at auction to be fattened on feedlots controlled by the beef monopolies.”

These larger structural issues are shaping our national landscape, says von Tscharner Fleming, and her latest startup, a collaborative effort called Agrarian Trust, aims to secure alternative land access arrangements for new farmers.

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A Better Way to Address the Housing Crisis

By Christina Oatfield for Berkeleyside

ExcerptNot all housing is created equal. To solve the housing crisis we may need some taller buildings so we can accommodate everyone, but we definitely need more nuanced solutions than just simply letting the developers build on their own terms. So what to do?

We should insist that more housing and other real estate be owned by its occupants or by nonprofit community land trusts. Community land trusts (CLTs) are nonprofit organizations that hold onto real estate to ensure its permanent affordability and benefit to the community.

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