The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.


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Alternative Economy Promotes Gender Equality in Northern Syria

There is so little positive news coming out of Syria these days that I was surprised and heartened when I found this article published in Kurdishquestion.com.  Although it specifically covers the efforts in Rojava, a region in Northern Syria, to establish grassroots assemblies and cooperatives, it speaks to the larger question of how to democratise all sectors of society, including the economy.  For example, local cooperatives provide:

 …alternative means and avenues that allow traditionally marginalised groups such as women to actively participate and engage with the market…Further, this alternative model allows society to bring the lived experiences of democracy to the grassroots level by devolving and disempowering the capacity of the state to control and direct the market. But cooperatives allow the community to create jobs on the local level, produce locally sourced and generated products, create jobs that do not require specialised skills and allows unskilled workers to gain skills and access to the market.

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This Week’s New Economy News

There are a lot of interesting and exciting things happening on the new economy front this week.  This from New Zealand:

Jan. 24 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s top 30 cooperatives contribute more than $42.3 billion per annum to the economy in revenue, a new report has found.

The report, by industry body Cooperative Business New Zealand and researchers from Massey University and Auckland University, shows the top cooperatives and mutuals have a revenue-to-gross domestic product ratio of 17.5 percent. The data “confirms the importance of the cooperative business model to New Zealand as a country,” said Cooperative Business chief executive Craig Presland. A total of 1.4 million New Zealanders are members of cooperatives.

Yes! Magazine, always a great source for news regarding the new economy has an on-going series exploring innovative local solutions to business problems state-by-state.

In 2009, United Steelworkers … met with representatives from Spain-based Mondragon, the world’s largest worker cooperative, to develop a plan for industrial steel workers to transition into worker-ownership. Cooperatives, they believed, would put more power in the hands of workers.

The partnership sparked an idea with labor organizers in Cincinnati. And in 2012, labor representatives founded the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative (CUCI), a union co-op incubator that nurtures startups, aiming to create an integrated network of union co-ops that sustain and support each other.

Another interesting concept is Platform Cooperatives:

‘Just like traditional co-ops, platform co-ops are organisations that are owned and managed by their members,’ says the Open Co-op’s Oliver Sylvester-Bradley. ‘While traditional co-ops are normally based around a physical community of members, platform co-ops live online and are normally populated by online communities of members.’

If you are interested and can attend, Open 2017: Platform Cooperatives will be holding a conference in the UK on Platform Cooperatives.  The dates are February 16th and 17th. Organizers of the event promise a gathering of “thinkers, practitioners and new ideas around the digital economy.”

To find out more about the event, and for the full programe, visit 2017.open.coop


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Natural Dyes Save Lives

Conventional textile manufacturing is poisonous to its workers and to the land, but there are alternatives.

A new crop of small businesses is investing in organic farming, natural dyes and a transparent supply chain that encourages shoppers to think about the effect of their purchases — and they’re selling their products online and in a small but growing number of US stores, from small trendy boutiques to Target.

These include Colorado-based PACT, which makes underwear and loungewear from all-organic cotton; New Jersey-based Boll and Branch, which sells organic-cotton bedsheets, blankets and towels, and two companies based in Los Angeles — Jungmaven, a hemp and organic-cotton T-shirt company, and Industry of All Nations, whose clothes are made with natural dyes and fibres from around the world.

Visit Gulfnews.com to learn more about the businesses using natural, sustainable textiles to produce their goods..


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Great News On the Co-op Front

Wallaces Farmer posted an article on the USDA’s recently released annual report on co-operatives.

USDA recently released its annual report on cooperatives, saying the nation’s top 100 co-ops again set a record for net income in 2015.

Net income for the nation’s agricultural cooperatives soared by 14% last year, according to data released Oct. 5 by USDA. In its annual report on national cooperative business sales, USDA reported that the country’s farmer, rancher and fishery co-ops posted record net income of $7 billion in 2015.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak praises the co-operative business model, stating:

While the model has long been one of the hallmarks of rural economies, its reach has greatly expanded to include almost every aspect of U.S. commerce. The latest data show cooperatives are a key to building stronger and more vital communities, particularly in rural areas.”


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Co-ops Help Lift People Out of Poverty

Laura Flanders is a big proponent of co-operatives.  In her recent article in Yes! magazine, she demonstrates how Cooperative Home Care Associates, the nation’s largest cooperative lifts people out of poverty:

When Arroyo convened a first-of-its-kind hearing on co-ops this February, New Yorkers packed not one but two hearing rooms at City Hall.

Among the co-op members who testified was Yadira Fragoso, whose wages rose to $25 an hour—up from $6.25—after becoming a worker-owner at Si Se Puede, a cleaning co-op incubated by the Brooklyn-based Center for Family Life. Translation at the hearing was provided by Caracol, an interpreters’ cooperative mentored by Green Worker Cooperatives.

By spreading risk and pooling resources, co-ops offer people with little individual wealth a way to start their own businesses and build assets.

The article also talks about the need for government policies, at a local level, that support cooperatives:

New York City is going—in a big way—for worker-owned cooperatives. Inspired by the model of CHCA and prodded by a new network of co-op members and enthusiasts, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council allocated $1.2 million to support worker cooperatives in 2015’s budget. According to the Democracy at Work Institute, New York’s investment in co-ops is the largest by any U.S. city government to date.

Funding for supportive nonprofits is not the only thing co-ops need from cities. In Spain, Northern Italy, Quebec, and France, robust worker co-ops benefit from laws that help co-ops access capital and public contracts. In New York, even as public dollars flow to big businesses as incentives, public spending is on the chopping block. The first city-sponsored trainings with a new, cooperative-inclusive curriculum started this summer, but passing co-op-friendly laws is going to take political power—of the sort that elected today’s progressive city leadership.

This $1.2 million won’t end poverty, but it’s a step in the right direction, says Christopher Michael of the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives. “We have all the raw ingredients of a successful policy initiative: engaged groups, a bit of a track record and support in the city council…

“This is just a start.”

 


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Attacks of the “Killer Algorithms”

Reposted From The Medical Quack Blog:

The 401k Plan, is one of the products that consumers buy that Americans don’t know the price and they don’t know the quality.  Once again we return to the world of complexities and so how did it get that way?  imageModels and software that execute algorithms and formulas that manage the accounts.  Consumers are attending educational meetings and walking out confused.  Also, due this fact consumers don’t know the “danger”…we are back to those algos as mutual funds through regulation Mahas been able to protect themselves, no transparency.

When 401ks began, they all looked good and were performing well in the late 90s and people were impressed as investments were growing.  In 2000 the market collapsed and all the earnings were gone.  401k money was going into company stock.  Savings were lost and so were jobs.  Stock algorithms moved the money based on markets.  Later when the real estate crashed, jolt number two with after having lost 401k money, now the house was not worth much.   Consumers are now borrowing against their 401k accounts while Wall Street still gave out huge bonuses. Continue reading