This is a resource page dedicated to understanding the diversity of the co-op model, and its connection to economic sustainability, and a bourgeoning solidarity economy. Please see the resources below or reach out if you are interested in learning more!
"She explains that transforming the economy means expanding our parameters of success beyond financial profit margins, an imperative made all the more dire by the climate crisis’ promise to devastate global markets and its already-gruesome toll on living costs.
Kawano says a solidarity economy offers participants a way of existing that isn’t tied to profitability and productivity, but instead “embraces all those things that are not formal, and maybe don’t involve money, or aren’t incorporated,” the traditional market value of which has perhaps been negligible. And, she adds, it represents a shift to working and building within our own communities. “The pivot is thinking about, is there anything we could actually build collectively ourselves?” Kawano says. “Can we create our own jobs? Can we grow our own food? Can we create our own local currency? Can we establish our own mutual aid system? Could we establish a credit union that’s responsive to the needs of our community?”
By Michelle Camou, www.geo.coop
October 12th, 2016
Above Photo: Flickr/Tim Green
10 Cities Investing in Healthy, Sustainable & Equitable Growth
City governments are shaping up as key actors accelerating worker co-op development. It started in 2009 when the City of Cleveland accessed a federal guaranteed loan to help finance the Evergreen Cooperatives. Since then, nine more city governments have moved to promote worker cooperatives through municipal projects, initiatives, or policies because they want to reach people and communities often left out of mainstream economic development. Other city governments including Philadelphia are considering it now.
Getting worker cooperatives to the scale of being a real market alternative will take time, energy, and the sort of experimentation we are seeing from these ten cities. A recent Imagined Economy Project report, Cities Developing Worker Co-ops: Efforts in Ten Cities, explores how city governments are thinking about their strengths in making worker co-ops structural features of local markets.
Traditional economic development, said Madison, Wisconsin’s Ruth Rohlich in the report, “isn’t helpful in creating really healthy communities, financially strong communities, in an equitable way.” Worker ownership may be a way forward, and city experiences right now will help municipalities decide how worker co-ops may become long-term features of their economic development agendas. To commit to worker cooperative development long term, the cities will need to see modest growth in jobs and business ventures resulting from their current efforts and may benefit from input and insights from worker cooperatives as they continue to adjust their sense of best practices. (Read more...)
Born in 1956 in Mondragón (in the province of Gipuzkoa, Spain), The Mondragón Corporation has since come to embody the epitome of the cooperative movement. It has grown to include over 81,000 employees in 96 worker-owned cooperatives that serve four economic sectors: finance, manufacturing, retail, and education. A short video about the history of the Mondragon Corporation is available at this YouTube link.
The Evergreen Cooperatives of Cleveland, Ohio are pioneering innovative models of job creation, wealth building, and sustainability. Evergreen’s employee-owned, for-profit companies are based locally and hire locally. They create meaningful green jobs and keep precious financial resources within the Greater University Circle neighborhoods. Worker-owners at Evergreen earn a living wage and build equity in the firms as owners of the businesses. A video providing more information about Evergreen’s Mission and planned businesses is available here: YouTube video.
Established in 2000, The Democracy Collaborative works to shift the prevailing paradigm of community development in the
United States toward broadening citizen participation in ownership and workplace governance, stabilizing local communities, and ensuring equitable and inclusive economic growth that is environmentally and socially sustainable.
Founded in 2004, the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives is a national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperatives, democratic workplaces, and organizations that support worker cooperatives. The Federation facilitates the sharing of skills and information across worker cooperatives and advocates for policies that support worker-owned businesses.
The U.S. Solidarity Economy Network is a part of a global movement for transformative social and economic justice. The solidarity economy supports an alternative framework for economic development that includes cooperatives, social enterprises, land trusts, co-housing, and the open source movement. It facilities communication and collaboration between organizations that promote citizen solidarity, mutualism, cooperation, sustainability, and social and economic democracy.
Co-op Cincy (formerly The Cincinnati Union Cooperative Initiative) emerged in the wake of a historic agreement, signed in October, 2009, between Mondragón and the United Steelworkers(North America’s largest industrial union) to launch union‐ cooperatives in the United States. Co-op Cincy creates jobs that are family-supporting and that improve the local economy in the Greater Cincinnati area by replicating and enhancing the success of Mondragón’s Worker‐Owned Cooperative Model, implementing the United Steelworker (USW) ‐ Mondragón agreement.