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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Community Colleges and Cooperatives

January 10, 2014
Jai Jai Noire
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This interview, shot May 2013 in Oakland, CA begins to introduce an idea that has been floating through my mind the past several years around the need for community colleges (in particular) to include training on cooperatives in their business programs, not as a form of  "kinder, gentler capitalism" but as community-based, capital subordinated business models hewing to the seven International Cooperative Principles.  The unemployed have headed back to community colleges to upgrade skills or to learn new skills. One of our local community colleges has a trades program. Why not encourage those who are interested to form construction, plumbing, electrical, refrigeration & heating, etc cooperatives? In the Bay Area, where many cooperatives are restaurant or grocery store coops, having another cooperative who services electrical, refrigeration & commercial ovens (for example) would be sensible, and new coops would have a customer base to approach. Further, our local community college trades program has a "practice" construction site. Once students have mastered that, why not partner with cities to seek out and acquire vacant buildings to rehab into Limited Equity Housing Cooperatives, No Equity Housing Cooperatives or Resident Owned Non-profits to create housing that these students could get first crack at? I would be most interested to learn of any such community college programs already existing. Every community has trades businesses where the owners are retiring. Can these businesses be purchased and converted to cooperatives, perhaps preserving a continuing relationship with the retiring owner(s) as skills mentors? Can these businesses be sold to current employees and converted to coops? 

 

Community Colleges and Worker Cooperatives ~via Jai Jai Noire, Mighty Small Films

 

 

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