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Grassroots Economic Organizing:
New Ideas, New Directions for the Collective


At a two-day retreat in December of 2005, GEO Collective members set out to reflect on GEO's successes and ongoing challenges, and to weave our visions for the future in light of the needs of the larger movements we aim to support. Here are some of the key ideas that came out of these conversations:


The Newsletter


The GEO Newsletter can and will continue to serve the crucial role of providing news and analysis of diverse global efforts to construct a democratic and solidarity-based economy. GEO remains the only publication in the U.S. that is dedicated solely to these themes. We reaffirm the importance of such an information source for the ongoing growth and development of a robust economic democracy movement.

On the basis of reader feedback about the future of the newsletter, analysis of the current landscape of democratic economic movements, and assessment of our own collective capacity within GEO, it became clear to us that the newsletter needs to take some new directions. These are some of our goals for a "new" GEO publication (of which this issue is the first!):


• Quarterly publication, with longer issues (ranging from 24-32 pages).

• Improved graphic design and imagery.

•Longer articles with deeper analysis and discussion, including a strengthened emphasis on "movement-building strategies" and a wider focus that includes not only worker cooperatives, but many other forms of economic democracy and solidarity.

• A regular set of sections including a calendar, global news flashes, news and updates from movement organizations, a "people in the movement" profile, an "innovative initiative profile," a "Big Question," reviews and more. 

• More letters, ideas and commentaries from our readers!

Most of all, we hope to recruit more organizers, activists and solidarity-loving researchers into our ranks to write about their ideas and experiences, and to collect and distill the ideas and experiences of others to share with our larger movement. Be the media! Write with GEO!


Our Website:


In the coming months, we will also be making substantial improvements to our website as a resource hub for building a solidarity economy movement. Newsletter articles will be published in easily readable and downloadable form, a "resource library" of useful articles and other materials will be developed, our "links" page will be expanded and updated, and a blog-like structure will be developed for fostering ongoing commentary and discussion. We would love to hear your ideas about how our website could be made even more useful and accessible. And help with web design and maintenance is needed and very welcomed!


The GEO Collective


Beyond envisioning a new publication, we affirmed that the GEO Collective is more than just the GEO Newsletter. Grassroots Economic Organizing serves not only to chronicle movements for economic solidarity, but also to provide resources and support for convening networks of initiatives and connecting individuals and organizations with each other. Indeed, for the entire 15 years of our existence, GEO has acted as an informal resource hub and support organization. GEO Collective members have developed extensive contacts with economic democracy projects across the country and throughout the world, and have also provided direct, hands-on organizing support to some of these projects.


We seek, now, to "formalize" these practices. The GEO Collective affirms that our mission is threefold:


1. To chronicle and share ideas, experiences and strategies that are emerging from contemporary movements for economic democracy and solidarity.

We will do this through continued publication of the GEO Newsletter, a strengthened website, a yet-to-be-developed "e-zine", and ongoing educational presentations and programs.


2. To connect individuals and organizations with the information they need to succeed as pioneers of economic solidarity and cooperation, and to foster further connections between and among these individuals and organizations with the aim of supporting the growth of a diverse and powerful solidarity economy movement

We will do this through: a) continued coordination of the Data Commons Project (building a shared, multi-organization database as a foundation for a public directory of the cooperative and solidarity economy); and b) by offering our services as an "information resource hub" (via our website and 1-800 number) to individuals and organizations in need.


3. To convene conversations between organizers and activists working in all sectors of movements for economic justice, and to encourage the formation of networks and organizations that formally link economic solidarity efforts into coherent relationships of mutual recognition and support.


We will do this through ongoing support for organizations such as the Eastern Conference on Workplace Democracy and the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, and with continued long-term work towards building a national "solidarity economy" membership organization.


Sliding Scale


In an effort to make GEO publications more accessible to a wider community, and to explore a new practice of economic solidarity within our organization, GEO will be experimenting with pricing the GEO Newsletter and other publications on a "sliding scale." This means that it is up to our readers to reflect on their own economic status, as well as on their commitment to supporting GEO, our projects, and the larger movement that we are a part of, and make a choice regarding the price they will pay for a subscription.


Why are we trying this radical (and some might suggest "uneconomic") scheme? First, we are instituting a sliding scale because we believe that all people, regardless of income, should be able to access the information and ideas that we collect within the pages of GEO. In a society that is built on structured social and economic inequality, sliding scale fees are an essential tool for organizations and projects seeking to embody principles of economic justice and solidarity.


Secondly, we believe that pricing on a sliding scale can be economically viable. This depends, of course, on our subscribers practicing economic solidarity: those who are able paying on the higher end of the sliding scale enables GEO to be accessible (and remain economically viable) for those with lower incomes. Our choice to experiment with this system is rooted in the trust that we have for our readers, subscribers, and fellow travelers on the many paths to dignity and justice.


Join Us!


We welcome you to join us on this new phase of the journey. We need volunteers to help with writing, interviews and editing, newsletter layout, web design and maintenance, research and information-gathering, fundraising, marketing and recruiting new subscribers, and helping to further develop our "organizing wing" to connect and convene solidarity economy networks.



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