Read about how SELC is revolutionizing legal services and cultivating a new legal landscape this Spring!
Like a community-supported farm, SELC thrives when our community invests in our work - whether that is an investment of time or money. That’s why we are excited to launch our new Community Membership Campaign! By becoming a SELC Founding Member, you can provide a sustained source of monthly support, grow our community of passionate new economy advocates, and get special discounts and invitations to future SELC events and workshops! Our goal is 224 new Members this month - the same as the number of clients we served at the Resilient Communities Legal Cafe over the past year.
Continue reading below to learn about the many ways that people-power is growing this movement, from the halls of the California State Legislature to the fields of the Central Valley!
SELC's 2014 Advocacy Campaigns!drafted and proposed a bill to remove zoning law barriers and other legal obstacles to growing fresh produce throughout California and it has been introduced by California State Assemblymember Steven Bradford! This groundbreaking legislation would require cities and counties to allow anyone to grow food for personal or commercial purposes on any land they have lawful access to, provided that they comply with any relevant nuisance, environmental, and health laws. We need to demonstrate widespread support for this legislation in order to ensure it becomes law. Show your support by signing our online petition and we’ll provide you with more info on additional steps you can take to help!
Bill to Facilitate Creation of Cooperative Housing in CaliforniaSELC continues to work on legislation to remove unnecessary red tape and costs to starting a housing cooperative in California. Read more about it and sign up to receive a notice when it’s time to write a letter to Governor Brown here.
California Alternative Currencies Act (AB 129)California may become one of the first states to specifically acknowledge alternative currencies in statute! SELC has advocated for such a bill for two years. California Assemblymember Dickinson recently introduced a bill clarifying that the use and circulation of alternative currencies is not prohibited in California. Read more about the bill, how you can support it, and why this is an important step toward economic democracy and resilience here.
Worker Cooperative Act (AB 2525)
The Limited Liability Worker Cooperative Act, or AB 2525, is a bill that will create a special purpose LLC specifically for worker cooperatives and add a worker cooperative division in the Consumer Cooperative Statute to make it easier for worker cooperatives to form under it. AB 2525 will strengthen the cooperative movement by giving worker cooperatives the flexibility to form as a corporation or an LLC while allowing them to identify themselves as cooperatives, which worker cooperative LLCs are currently prohibited from doing. Sign our petition, read the proposed provisions for the bill, see its progress, and join the conversation on our website!
SELC has a new website!
Aside from lookin' fine, this site allows us to integrate our administrative work into one big hub -- making SELC even more efficient and effective at our work. On theselc.org, you can now support our policy campaigns, become a member of SELC, follow the latest news, access all of our resources, and more. We're still working out some of the kinks, so if you spot an issue, please leave us a comment on the bottom of the page!
Working Together to Support Community Farms & Farm Workers
Growing the Central Valley Community Farm Movement
In the same communities where Cesar Chavez helped to organize the farm labor movement, community organizing has taken a new turn, and grassroots groups are forming and creating community-owned farms and worker cooperative farms. The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE) has fueled some of this momentum, but it's emerging independently in multiple places in California. SELC wants to believe it's a movement, and/or wants to help to make it so. SELC and CRPE have convened the Community Farm Legal Support Network, a group of mostly Spanish-speaking lawyers who are receiving training from SELC and gearing up to provide transactional legal support to farm groups. On March 29th, SELC will be in Delano to present a workshop on worker cooperatives to multiple farm groups in the region.
Small Farms and Labor Enforcement
SELC has prepared this 2-page memo to share our recent experiences after 15 months of working with a group of farmers to address citations and fines they received from the CA Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). This experience has helped us uncover fundamental tensions in employment laws and their enforcement, which leave small-scale farms extremely vulnerable. In coming years, we will be working to address some of these problems through proposed regulatory changes and legislation.
SELC Participates in CPUC Proceeding on Behalf of Community Energy
A new law in California, the Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program (SB 43), may give a significant boost to groups working to create community-owned renewable energy projects. If the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approves the investor-owned utilities' proposals to implement SB 43, utilities like PG&E will begin offering customers the option to purchase power from shared renewable energy projects located in or near their communities. SELC has filed multiple comments and an opening brief in the CPUC proceeding because we want to ensure that customers have the option to take part in the creation of and purchase from shared renewable energy projects that they co-own and control. The details of the Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program can make a big difference in the feasibility of new community-owned projects. The CPUC will issue a proposed decision in June. Read SELC's latest comments here and watch our website for updates!
Revolutionizing the Legal Profession for a New Economy
SELC is Accepting Applications for the SELC Legal Fellowship Program
This year, SELC will offer between three and five fellowships to attorneys and recent law school graduates, and we are currently accepting applications. The purpose of the fellowship is to help meet the legal needs of the growing community resilience movement by providing training, mentorship, and other resources to attorneys beginning new law practices and projects in this sector. Please share this information with attorneys who might be interested! You can read about our 2013-2014 Fellows here.
Introducing SELC's New Staff Attorney, Neil Thapar
SELC is thrilled and honored to introduce our new staff attorney, Neil Thapar. After graduating from law school in 2011, Neil worked for a nonprofit environmental and food safety legal organization, fending off the proliferation of genetically engineered crops in U.S. agriculture. He left the legal world in 2012 to learn the art and science of agroecological farming in Santa Cruz. He joins SELC to help address the many legal barriers to small-scale food production and to help create replicable models for economically and ecologically sustainable food enterprise.
Learn About Legal Apprenticeships and Grow the Movement
In partnership with the National Lawyers Guild, SELC legal apprentice, Ricardo Nuñez, and supervising attorney, Janelle Orsi, will lead a workshop and discussion about legal apprenticeships. Bay Area lawyers, legal workers, and prospective lawyers are warmly invited to learn about the benefits of and best practices for becoming a lawyer without going to law school. The event will be held at Golden Gate University on April 23 at 6pm. Watch our event page for details.
SELC in Australia!
SELC’s Executive Director, Janelle Orsi, just returned from an 18-day trip to Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, where she spoke to lawyers, community activists, entrepreneurs, academics, and other people working to grow sharing economies. The trip was co-sponsored by the Activism and Enterprise Project at University of New South Wales School of Law, the Australian Earth Laws Alliance, the Victoria Environmental Defenders Office, and Melbourne Law School. Partially emerging from SELC’s work and these conversations, multiple attorneys in Australia are now exploring the potential to establish legal clinics, law practices, and legal practitioner networks focused on growing worker cooperatives, sustainable food systems, community-based renewable energy projects, and other solutions for community resilience. SELC looks forward to growing our connections in Australia and continuing to learn from legal and social innovations abroad.
Legal Professional's Happy Hour: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 from 5:00 - 6:30 PM at Awaken Cafe (Oakland)
Portside Underground: Co-ops & the Food Movement: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 6:30 PM at the The Port Workspaces (Oakland)
Legal Basics for Starting a Worker-Owned Cooperative Business (En Español): Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 9:00 AM at the Center for Race, Poverty, and the Environment (Delano, CA)
Know Your Rights Teach-in: Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 6:00 PM at Liberating Ourselves Locally Makerspace (Oakland)
The Answer is Cooperatives: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 at 2:00 PM at Cal State University Long Beach (Long Beach, CA)
Resilient Communities Legal Cafe: Three times per month in Oakland and Berkeley! Find dates, locations, and teach-ins here.
That's right, we're still providing direct legal advice for those creating more just and resilient communities. Tell your friends by sharing our Legal Cafe page on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, & LinkedIn!