United States

Originally published in GEO vol. 1, issue 44, 2001.

We all want to get away from top-down management. We don't want to tell people what to do, or be told what to do. Yet if it weren't for the inspired leadership of a few dedicated people, many co-ops wouldn't exist. Since in worker-managed co-ops we are going to have leaders—in fact we're all leaders at times —we need democratic leadership. But what is that?

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[Editor's note: this talk was delivered in Cuba, during a trip organized by the Center for Global Justice in June, 2016.]

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[Editor's note: below are two videos that, while separated by over 50 years in time, share a common theme.  First, Ed Whitfield of the Fund for Democratic Communities and Renaissance Community Co-op, dicusses cooperative economics in the context of reparations for historical and on-going racial injustice.  Then, in priceless archival footage, Father Albert McKnight from Lafayette, LA discusses the founding and operation of the Southern Consumers' Co-op, their impre

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Abstract

This paper provides an explanation of why worker cooperative startups are rare. If true worker ownership is to be maintained in the startup period where losses occur, members face either a 'pay to work' or 'expected investment loss' problem. Founding members must either pay money to cover the losses resulting from their labor, or make investments upfront which will be expected to decline in value as losses occur. These two issues are completely foreign to modern finance and current labor practice, and also ignored by the worker coop community.

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Cities are investing in support systems for worker cooperative development as a tool for sustainable and equitable economic development.
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Originally published in GEO vol. 1, issue 61, 2004

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“This is a female moment in time,” observes Rev Dele, founder of the Virginia-based, Soil Souls. “The Earth and society are about to give birth to a new culture. It’s women who give birth to that which is yet unseen.”

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The cooperative business and community model is both older than you think, and probably not what you think. Cooperatives have a history, especially in Buffalo, NY, and in minority communities everywhere. Clinton Parker explains how co-ops really work, how they can help some modern problems, and how you can get involved.

 

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[Editor's note: Below are four videos from the CommonBound 2016 closing panel "Moving Forward with a Plan to Win."  Makani Themba of Higher Ground Change Strategies sets the stage by asking us to consider what exactly we mean by a "new" economy, and how our New Economy will relate to the old, i.e.

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[Editor's note: the following short article was first published in 2001, in GEO Newsletter #44: Democracy within Co-opsCollective Copies now has 33 years in operation and is still going strong.]

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EMPOWERMENT and LOVE 7.

The depth and intensity of anyone’s commitment to any relationship is dependent on many factors. I have recently become very clear on two of them for myself.

[Editor's note: The following is the latest backgrounder from Food First's Dismantling Racism in the Food System series. It is excerpted from a section on Black Agrarianism included in 2017’s forthcoming book Land Justice: Re-imagining Land, Food, and the Commons. GEO thanks the authors and Food First for allowing us to share their work.]

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EMPOWERMENT and LOVE 5.                                            

I trust the thinking of people who respond with some clarity and complexity in the midst of a muddled situation, such as the one Nate Parker is in and, as a consequence, many, many others also find themselves in, directly and indirectly.

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The cast of characters assembled on vacant lots in Larimer, an East Pittsburgh neighborhood.

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James Razsa talks with Josh Davis about the effort to establish Democracy Brewing in Boston, MA: a worker co-op brew pub, event center and organizing space. James also shares his thoughts on the relations between unions and co-ops, informed by his time working in both movements.

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