Can the ‘new economy’ and labor movements come together again?

Eric Dirnbach August 31, 2016, Waging Non-violence

Advocates for worker cooperatives celebrate outside City Hall in Oakland after the city council passed a resolution supporting the development of worker co-ops on Sept. 8, 2015 (Sustainable Economies Law Center)

Activists in Oakland have been campaigning for new city policies that would assist worker cooperative development. After successfully winning passage of a city resolution in support of cooperatives last fall, they are now pushing for a new law, the Oakland Worker Cooperative Incentives for Growth Ordinance. Supporters will speak in support at the upcoming hearing at City Hall on September 27, and the ordinance is likely to pass in October. It would grant a variety of benefits for registered worker cooperatives including procurement preferences, development funding, tax incentives, streamlined permitting and promotion of business conversion to cooperatives. The Sustainable Economies Law Center, one of the key promoters of the ordinance, says that it will be the first of its kind to offer this level of assistance for cooperatives.

This campaign is one part of a vibrant, growing movement advancing community-oriented, alternative ways of economic development. This includes cooperatives and credit unions, community land trusts, municipal participatory budgeting, local renewable energy and various community organizing initiatives to build local power, all within a grassroots, intersectional and anti-oppression political framework. This kind of work is often referred to as the “new economy” or “solidarity economy.” (more…)



Film Review: Solidarity Economics in Italy

Everywhere You Look

In their 2012 film “Shift Change”, filmmakers Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin introduced viewers to workers who make the case for democratic control and ownership of production. The film highlighted successful examples like the Mondragon Corporation in the Basque Country in Spain and the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as smaller projects (including coffee shops and bakeries).

In their new film, “WEconomics,” Young and Dworkin show viewers what cooperativism looks like not just in a single workplace, but on a social level—an ecosystem of many co-ops. This time the successful model is Emilia-Romagna, a province in Northern Italy that has “one of the highest concentrations of cooperatives in the world.”

As in “Shift Change,” the story is told—very effectively—by the people interviewed, a mix of co-op leaders and one academic. But this time, instead of watching workers assemble washing machines on a factory floor, we’re watching people stroll through the scenic streets of Bologna, sit in piazzas sipping fair-trade espresso, shop for shoes made locally with all-natural materials and no chemicals, work with children and the elderly, and refill their bottles with the local Sangiovese wine. (more)

Vanuatu: Another kind of wealth

Published on Mar 21, 2016

In the language of modern economics, the small island nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific is labeled one of the world’s ‘least developed countries’. At the same time, Vanuatu has ranked number one on the pioneering Happy Planet Index. This incongruity points to major issues with today’s standard measures of human progress, and has many policymakers rethinking notions of wealth and how they shape development policy.

Building Alternative Institutions in Greece

Since the beginning of the Greek financial crisis, both the Right and the Left have advanced a narrow set of narratives, policy possibilities, and even political actors. One movement that has largely remained outside of the discourse has been the solidarity economy movement. A key organization within the solidarity economy movement is Solidarity for All. Solidarity for All is an organization that offers technical support, capacity building, and network-scaling for the various grassroots initiatives around Greece.

In a 2014-2015 report entitled Building Hope: Against Fear and Devastation, Solidarity for All draws attention to “the devastating effects of the radical neoliberal experiment on Greek society.” The report also sets out to highlight “another experiment: that of Greek society taking action through self-organization and solidarity, of people standing up and resisting their economic and political ‘saviours.’” (more)

BUILDING ALTERNATIVES FOR PEOPLE AND PLANET: News and reports from the grassroots on worker and community coops, land trusts, participatory bufgeting and other explorations in mutual aid