The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.


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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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Food For Change – A History of the Cooperative Movement in America

Food For Change is a feature-length documentary film focusing on food co-ops as a force for dynamic social and economic change in American culture. The movie tells the story of the cooperative movement in the U.S. through interviews, rare archival footage, and commentary by the filmmaker and social historians. This is the first film to examine the important historical role played by food co-ops, their pioneering quest for organic foods, and their current efforts to create regional food systems. Additionally, the film shows how the co-op movement strengthens communities where they are located, enhancing local economies and food security. The goal is to educate a wide national audience about the principles of cooperation with a focus on food.

You can learn more about Food For Change here.


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New Economic System Needed and Growing

On the Popular Resistance blog, Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese insist that a new economic system is needed to create a democratized economy:

People are realizing that they cannot make it in the current Wall Street dominated corporate capitalist economy.  It is not designed for most people to make it. Rather it is designed for a small percentage to profit while everyone else is exploited and economically insecure.

Economic Democracy

A new economic model is gravely needed and has in fact taken root worldwide and increasingly in the US. People are not waiting for Congress, and are instead taking action to create the new democratized economy in many areas from finance to employment to food, energy and health care.

Two years ago, we organized the economic democracy conference of the first national Democracy Convention. More than 1,000 people attended and the energy for creating real democracy was high.

The second national Democracy Convention will take place this August 7 to 11 in Madison WI. Once again, It’s Our Economy is organizing the economic democracy conference, this time in partnership with the Public Banking Institute. Our focus this year is to bring those who have been building the new economy together to share what they are learning so that participants can put new systems in place in their own communities.

Since 2011, efforts to build local economies and create affordable and sustainable supplies of the basic necessities have all advanced, and the potential for the future is amazing. Gar Alperovitz, a political economist who will be a speaker at the convention, recently had an article published in the New York Times about the vast potential of the aging baby boomer generation reaching retirement.  Owners of businesses can take steps to transfer ownership of their businesses to their workers, this provides economic benefits to both the owners and the workers, and builds the foundation for a new economy – worker ownership building the wealth in workers. Continue reading


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Millennials Meet to “reRoute” Our Economy

Keith Harrington

By: : Huffington Post

In case you missed it, this past spring students at over a dozen universities and colleges across North America gathered on their campuses to lay the foundations of a new millennial-led movement for economic system change. This month, these leaders will take a good hard look at the next strategic steps for their emerging movement when they converge at New York University from July 19 – 21 for the New Economic Institute’s “reRoute: Building Youth and Student Power for a New Economy.”

From climate and clean-energy advocacy, to poverty and migrant rights, contemporary campuses know no shortage of organizing initiatives aimed at addressing the myriad symptoms of our ailing political-economic system. Yet despite these essential efforts, we’ve yet to see the emergence of any major initiatives focused on confronting the root cause of these symptomatic problems: the very structure of our economic system itself.

This is where the reRoute convergence comes in. Like the series of student summits that preceded it, reRoute aims to serve as a catalyst for the growth of a continent-wide network of student and youth leaders dedicated to promoting policies, practices and ideas that can transform our economy into a truly democratic, equitable and ecologically-sustainable system. Continue reading


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Gar Alperovitz suggests what the next economic system might look like.

In What Then Must We Do?, Gar Alperovitz speaks directly to the reader about where we find ourselves in history, why the time is right for a new-economy movement to coalesce, what it means to build a new system to replace the crumbling one, and how we might begin. He also suggests what the  next system might look like—and where we can see its outlines, like an image slowly emerging in the developing trays of a photographer’s darkroom, already taking shape.

He proposes a possible next system that is not corporate capitalism, not state socialism, but something else entirely—and something entirely American.

Alperovitz calls for an evolution, not a revolution, out of the old system and into the new. That new system would democratize the ownership of wealth, strengthen communities in diverse ways, and be governed by policies and institutions sophisticated enough to manage a large-scale, powerful economy.