The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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East Side Freedom Library On-Line Launch of “Grocery Activism”

Video premiere on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Craig Upright will join East Side Freedom Library’s Peter Rachleff in conversation on Thursday, June 4 at 7:00 p.m. for the launch of his new book, Grocery Activism: The Radical History of Food Cooperatives in Minnesota. The event is part of the Ramsey County Historical Society’s History Revealed series and can be accessed from the ESFL Facebook page here:

Grocery Activism looks back to the 1970s, when the mission of cooperative grocery stores shifted from political activism to the promotion of natural and organic foods. The story of the fraught relationship of these new-wave organizations to the organic food industry, it is an instructive case study in the history of activists intervening in capitalist markets to promote social change.

“Grocery Activism fills a gaping hole in the literature on food activism, and it’s one that my students often ask about: the radical origins of food cooperatives. Readers shocked by Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods may well feel nostalgic for the cramped spaces and dusty bins of the 1970s food cooperatives that are the focus of this book.” —Julie Guthman, author of Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California

“In the 1970s, the organic food movement needed to reach consumers, and food co-ops needed a reason to exist. Grasping the relationship between a social movement and an organizational form is not easy, but Grocery Activism achieves its aims in a clear, informative way. This book will interest anyone who wants to understand how local action can produce new and unexpected forms of market structure.” —Kieran Healy, Duke University

Read more about the book here:…/books/grocery-activism.

THURSDAY AT 7:00 PMGrocery Activism Virtual Launch Event with Craig UprightTune in to watch live

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Consumer Cooperative Movement on Iron Range

Cindy Kujala, a staff writer for the Community Information Network, writes about the consumer cooperative movement on the Iron Range in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s:

The consumer cooperative movement on the Range was initially developed almost entirely by Finnish immigrant groups and although second and third generation Americans of other ethnic groups eventually contributed to the movement, it has eventually been almost totally dominated by Finnish Americans.
During the period 1890 through the 1950s, the Range was dominated by three economic activities: mining, logging and agriculture. All three activities saw conditions of economic insecurity due to responses of these activities to general economic conditions as well as seasonal fluctuations and exhaustions of iron ore and forest resources. In addition, conflict between workers and large corporations affect entire communities.
As a producer, the immigrant farmer on the Range market farm produced mainly dairy products and wood products. Local lumber companies or jobbers usually contracted for the forest products and extended credit to buy supplies from the company store.
This practice often resulted in the immigrant farmer being exploited twice: once when he had to sell his products at whatever price the company would give him, and then again when he had to buy at the company store at high prices. As a miner or logger, the early immigrant was also usually given credit at the company store. These stores often had monopolies and the immigrant miners, loggers or farmers had to trade there. High prices were the rule.
As a result of their limited incomes and the above consumer conditions, the immigrant became very conscious of consumer purchasing. The high prices charged by local merchants is one of the most frequently repeated reasons given for starting local cooperatives. Continue reading

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Who Knew This Could Happen?!!!

A spectacular video from Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota demonstrates the incredible capabilities of nature.  The footage is of snow getting pushed ashore in the spring.  This is called an ice shove or shoreline ice pile up.  It is a surge of ice from an ocean or large lake onto the shore. They are caused by ocean currents, strong winds, or temperature changes.  Ice shove’s usually are not this drastic.


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Celebrate Cooperatives this October

The Wisconsin Ag Connection encourages Americans to celebrate cooperatives this month:

Wisconsin kicks off Cooperative Month in October, there is new evidence that people prefer to do business with cooperatives over investor-owned businesses. That’s according to Cooperative Network, which commissioned a survey through the St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute that shows 47 percent of consumers in Wisconsin and Minnesota indicated they were members of a cooperative, of which 74 percent said that they were more likely to choose cooperatives over other businesses based on their past experiences. Continue reading

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Local Cooperatives Purchase Electric Service Territory from Alliant Energy

The Lakefield Standard announces 12 local cooperatives have purchased the electric service territory in southern Minnesota from Alliant Energy.

SMEC officials on Tuesday announced they have reached a definitive agreement to acquire territory from Alliant Energy. The transaction is contingent upon regulatory approval. Assuming the acquisition is approved by regulators, it is expected to close in 2014. 
Should the acquisition receive all the requisite approvals, Alliant Energy customers will become member-owners of one of the 12 electric cooperatives and enjoy the benefits of cooperative ownership including voting rights, board representation and the opportunity for patronage capital refunds — the margins of a cooperative that are returned to member-owners over time.
The 12 SMEC member cooperatives are BENCO Electric Cooperative, Brown County Rural Electrical Association, Federated Rural Electric, Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services, Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative, Nobles Cooperative Electric, People’s Energy Cooperative, Redwood Electric Cooperative, Sioux Valley Energy, South Central Electric Association, Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric and Tri-County Electric Cooperative.
“All 12 electric cooperatives have served southern Minnesota for more than 70 years,” said Burud. “We look forward to extending our professional, high-quality service to the former Alliant Energy customers who will become our new member-owners.”

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Environmental Groups Sue to Stop Planting of GM Crops in Wildlife Refuges

Several on-line sites have posted information about a lawsuit filed by environmental groups to stop the planting of genetically modified crops in wildlife refuges:

Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stop planting genetically modified crops in wildlife refuges in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Missouri.
The coalition of green groups—which includes the Sierra Club, the Center for Food Safety, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility—want the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials to halt any possible damage to the lands until environmental analyses are completed.
The suit alleges that under the National Environmental Protection Act and the Refuge Improvement act, the government is required to do those studies before entering into farming contracts.Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is named as the lead defendant in the 35-page filing. Jewell’s office did not respond to a request for response to the lawsuit or details of the federal program under which the farms exist.“Allowing pesticide promoting, (genetically engineered) crops is antithetical to the basic purpose of our refuge system,” said Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety.

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Power generated from community solar facilities spans more than half of all customers in Colorado

A staff reporter at The Boulder iJournal gives details about a new power purchase agreement between community-owned solar developer Clean Energy Collective and the Yampa Valley Electric Association.  The Association intends to purchase up to a 500 kilowatts of renewable energy from the Cooperative, a community owned solar company based in northern Colorado:

Yampa Valley Electric Association , a customer-owned rural electric cooperative serving more than 26,000 members in northwestern Colorado [is set] to buy 500 kilowatts of renewable energy from Clean Energy Collective’’s newest array to be built in Craig, Colo. Individual Yampa Valley Electric Association customers can then purchase solar panels in the shared array and receive credit for the energy produced directly on their monthly utility bill. The credit rate being offered by Yampa Valley Electric Association on participating member bills is significantly higher than the retail electric rate that members pay, making the program very advantageous for it members to embrace solar, according to its promoters. Continue reading