Gleanings

Mira Luna: Why did African-Americans first start getting involved in cooperative economic activity? Was it for political or practical reasons or both?

The Praxis Project is excited to release, “Transforming the Economy from the Ground Up,” a paper on the solidarity economy authored by the Highlander Research and Education Center. The solidarity economy is part of a long-term strategy to address systemic and structural problems that make Mississippi the poorest state in the nation and keep billions of people in poverty  all over the world.

Imagine this: an economic model that takes the needs of the entire community into account. One that respects the rights of people and the planet. A market system that favors both the consumers and the producers.

In the past 30 years, though, there has been a rapid growth of all kinds of initiatives in the social economy. Confidence was lost in the centralised state-based alternatives, particularly after 1989. The revolution in information and communications made it possible to develop much more distributed systems of organisation, with complex webs of collaboration. Now, with the financial collapse of 2008 putting neoliberalism on the back foot, we are witnessing a new interest in co-operation.

No one really likes having a boss. So why not be your own boss? And no, this is not yet another post about the benefits of freelancing.

Worker cooperatives are a unique kind of business that are democratically owned and governed by the people doing the labor. Without any bosses on the job, each employee acts as both worker and owner. Now one group, the Wellspring Collaborative, is looking to jumpstart the growth of worker cooperatives in an unlikely place: inner-city Springfield, Massachusetts.

A growing number of educators and social entrepreneurs across the country are discovering that the secret to learning empathy, emotional literacy, self-awareness, cooperation, effective communication, and many of the other skills classified as “social and emotional learning,” lies in experience, not in workbooks and rote classroom exercises.

Read the full article at YES! Magazine

Unlike a bank, whose investments are controlled by private decision-makers and shareholders, a credit union can decide to give every member/investor and equal vote. At the Lower East Side Credit Union, a low income community development institution, the members have chosen to keep their resources and their lending in their low-income neighborhood.

Cooperative economics and civil rights don't often appear together in history books, but they should. From the mutual aid societies that bought enslaved people's freedom to the underground railroad network that brought endangered blacks to the north, cooperative structures were key to evading white supremacy. And there was vicious backlash when black co-ops threatened the status quo.

A region that went through ... a crisis in the 1990s is that of Mercosur where hundreds of worker-owned enterprises emerged often with the full support of trade unions. A case in point is that of Forja, South America’s largest forge which, with the backing of the ABC Metalworkers’ union of the Central Única des Trabalhadores (CUT), became Uniforja, a worker cooperative. The success of Uniforja and many other cooperatives led to the creation of Unisol, a worker cooperative federation which now has over 800 affiliated enterprises representing 70,000 workers.

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