Betsy Bowman and Bob Stone

The alternative economy in New Orleans is in an upsurge. An April 2 'Grassroots Economic Organizing Workshop' joined 50 activists in various co-ops with neighborhood, environmental, peace, and homeless advocates.  Exciting start-ups represented included:

A construction co-op for public housing folks

“Our premise is that the best deterrent to crime is employment, said Malik Rahim of Invest Construction.  Over 100 public housing residents, including skilled ex-offenders, are incorporating as a worker co-op. Invest's members will use Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Section 3, favoring resident firms on construction contracts.  If successful it can be replicated nationally. 

Malik is eager for start-up advice

A co-op bookstore/lending library

“We have plenty of volunteer student labor lined up, said Liberty Eddink, “all we need is a space and incorporation as a non-profit co-op.  Liberty got leads on lawyers, repossessed properties, and fiscal agents.  To help with advice contact

Organic food co-op with workplace democracy

We'll bring organic produce from local farmers to inner city residents and provide a community center, said John Calhoun  of New Orleans Food Co-op.  With dozens of subscribers NOFC is developing a business plan and needs food co-op software.  Send John your ideas and check their website:

An urban gardeners' co-op

“To build a local food system that doesn't rely on large chains we'll teach folks how to grow and compost in city spaces, said Darlene Wolnick of New Orleans Food and Farm Network.  Send suggestions to

Ferment was palpable.  Experienced groups networking, and ready for national link-ups, were:  Urban Conservancy˜neighborhood protectors, opposing WalMart-ization; Cyberspace Central Computer Consultants˜a successful worker co-op;  Plan B Bicycle Co-op˜free help and tools in repairing bikes;  The Green Project˜recycling;  Catholic Worker;  Pax Christi;  IWW.

New Orleans didn't feel unique.  We sensed that a GEO workshop in Nashville or Minneapolis would have similar results. Something is afoot in the land.

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