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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

An Exploration of New Orleans Worker Co-ops

In the past two years, Bellegarde Bakery (purveyor of the highly-sought-after picnic baguettes, and other glutenous delights) has joined the ranks of Pagoda Café, which is currently transitioning to worker-ownership, and Velveteen, a new business co-founded by a former employee of Pirogues. In the older guard, New Orleans East is home to VEGGI, a growers and marketing cooperative active since 2011, and Uptown resides C4, a tech support company (and ANTIGRAVITY advertiser) established in 2002. While these are only a tiny collection among the massive array of businesses in New Orleans, the recent swelling in number suggests a renewed interest in co-ops, and perhaps the promise of more to come.

For many trying to uplift worker-owned co-ops, the sphinx in the path of co-op proliferation is the lack of awareness of the cooperative model.

In Cooperatives of New Orleans, which looks at the history of co-ops in the Crescent City, author Anne Gessler argues that the social aid and pleasure clubs that have existed in New Orleans for centuries also fit into this cooperative framework, as well as mutual aid groups and even community gardens, which function as part of a cooperative economy focused on sharing resources rather than centering profit above all else.

Read the rest at Antigravity


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