Greece’s solidarity movement: ‘it’s a whole new model – and it’s working’

An excerpt:

The clinics in turn are part of a far larger and avowedly political movement of well over 400 citizen-run groups – food solidarity centres, social kitchens, cooperatives, “without middlemen” distribution networks for fresh produce, legal aid hubs, education classes – that has emerged in response to the near-collapse of Greece’s welfare state, and has more than doubled in size in the past three years.

“Because in the end, you know,” said Christos Giovanopoulos in the scruffy, poster-strewn seventh-floor central Athens offices of Solidarity for All, which provides logistical and administrative support to the movement, “politics comes down to individual people’s stories. Does this family have enough to eat? Has this child got the right book he needs for school? Are this couple about to be evicted?”

As well as helping people in difficulty, Giovanopoulos said, Greece’s solidarity movement was fostering “almost a different sense of what politics should be – a politics from the bottom up, that starts with real people’s needs. It’s a practical critique of the empty, top-down, representational politics our traditional parties practise. It’s kind of a whole new model, actually. And it’s working.”

Exec Director of University of Wisconsin’s Center for Cooperatives on Everything Coop

Tune in to WOL 1450 AM, on January 15, at 10:30 a.m. for Everything Coop, hosted by Vernon Oakes. This week Vernon interviews Anne Reynolds, Executive Director for the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Cooperatives. Vernon and Ms. Reynolds will discuss research and initiatives the university has supported regarding the creation of  new cooperatives.
Anne Reynolds is the Executive Director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives. She develops courses, conferences and educational programs at the Center, and has led numerous workshops on board leadership, board roles and responsibilities and strategic planning. Her areas of interest include governance, member loyalty, business structure and innovative uses of the cooperative model. Ms. Reynolds has worked with cooperatives in all sectors, including agriculture, food, energy, purchasing and worker-owned. She serves on several boards, including The Cooperative Foundation, the Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund, and the Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative.
To listen live online Click Here!
or Click Here! to Listen on your cell phone with Tune-in Radio

“I…depend on GEO to keep me connected to this wild and inspiring movement!” — Marnie Thompson

Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO) is a decentralized collective of educators, researchers and grassroots activists working to promote an economy based on democratic participation, worker and community ownership, social and economic justice, and ecological sustainability–a “solidarity economy”–through grassroots journalism, organizing support, cross-sector networking and movement-building and the publication of educational and organizational resources. Since 1991, GEO has published the great GEO Newsletter. The GEO website is an amazing resource on which many people, like Marnie Thompson, depend.

Recently, GEO published “Marion Barry: DC’s Co-op Mayor” based on my paper “Home Rule from Below: The Cooperative Movement in Washington, DC.”

Follow this link to learn more about how you can get involved in GEO’s work.

Pastries with Principles

From the Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund newsletter:

CoopThe worker-owners of Red Rabbit Bakery were directly inspired by the Michael Moore documentary Capitalism: A Love Story, back in June 2010. After an initial planning period, which included completing Cooperation Texas’ business start-up course, this cooperative bakery opened for production in May of 2011, and has grown by leaps and bounds ever since. Today the bakery employs ten people, manages twenty-five wholesale accounts, sells at local farmers’ markets, and in just three and a half years has more than quintupled its annual sales. Its next move is to open a coffee shop and café after successfully operating a food truck in the same neighborhood for the last year and a half.

The new coffee shop and café is a partnership with Monkeywrench Books in Austin, and demonstrates Cooperation among Cooperatives, the sixth principle of cooperation (Principle 6). Monkeywrench Books is a volunteer-run radical bookstore and community space collective. By sharing space, the two small cooperatives are able to lower their overhead expenses and share a common customer base. Red Rabbit will also be partnering with Equal Exchange cooperative to offer fair trade espresso and coffee drinks to go along with their own sweet and savory baked goods.

Principle 6 doesn’t end there. Since its inception, Red Rabbit has had a great partner in the Wheatsville Food Co-op, which has been an enthusiastic customer since the very beginning. Dana Tomlin, fresh manager at Wheatsville said, “Our customers were asking for different flavors of donuts and Red Rabbit created a rotation of new and exciting flavors that were affordable and fun.” Red Rabbit’s offerings are featured in both of the food co-op’s locations.

Further, Wheatsville Food Co-op, and Austin-based housing cooperative, College Houses, both offered financial support for Red Rabbit by guaranteeing a portion of NCDF’s first loan. The co-ops in Austin, Texas have clearly demonstrated how cooperatives from many sectors can support each other and grow the local cooperative economy. “Austin is a big, competitive city and we work together to help grow the co-op economy,” Tomlin said.

How Equal Exchange Saves Lives on Everything Coop on 12/18/2014

LJ TaylorToday at 10:30am on WOL 1450 AM, Vernon Oakes interviews L.J. Taylor, Board Chair for Equal Exchange. Vernon and LJ will discuss governance and management of Equal Exchange, as related to the core cooperative principles and practices.

LJ Taylor is one of the 117 worker-owners of Equal Exchange. He is both a sales person (based in central Virginia), and Chair of the company’s Board of Directors. LJ has broad experience in the co-op economy outside of Equal Exchange, as well. He has served as Board Chair of the Co-op Fund of New England, a non-profit lender that provides financing for co-operatives across the Northeast, and has worked at Weaver Street food Co-op in Chapel Hill, NC.. LJ has also helped in the formation of the Independents Coffee Cooperative in Philadelphia.

During this holiday season Equal Exchange offers an opportunity for people to be socially responsible while impacting the lives of so many people in the Congo, by one simple act of kindness. When a gift is purchased from Equal Exchange the lives of five groups of people are impacted at one time. Click Here to see selections and learn more about how you can participate in this solution. If the promotion code of voakes is used on a purchase order before January 31, 2015, a 10% discount will be issued on the customer’s first order.

Equal Exchange is a specialty food worker-owned co-operative headquartered in Massachusetts, that sources coffee, chocolate, tea and more from small farmer cooperatives all over the world. They helped introduce the Fair Trade concept to the US coffee industry in the late 1980s and today sell a wide-variety of organic, Fair Trade goods including coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas and other foods. Their pioneering work helped to jump-start the Fair Trade category in the US, now worth over $2 billion annual.

Vernon Oakes is President of Oakes Management Inc. As President, he has renovated and managed his own properties, and those owned by other entities since 1985. Mr. Oakes is the immediate Past President of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives, and serves on several boards to advance the interests of cooperatives. He also formerly served as coordinator of the MBA program at Howard University, and is an MBA graduate of Stanford University, who has used his business acumen to benefit the community by providing quality housing for all populations. Vernon is a consummate advocate for cooperatives.

If you missed the last week’s interview with Beth Ann Caspersen, Quality Control Manager for Equal Exchange, Click Here!

Solidarity Economy Summit on Saturday

In the face of growing economic inequity and environmental devastation, we are called to come together to reimagine and rebuild our economy based on the values of equity, democracy, cooperation, self-determination, and sustainability. Please come to Impact Hub DC (419 7th St NW) on Saturday 12/6 to take part in a conversation with local activists, leaders and community members about how we can build a movement for a solidarity economy in Washington, DC, which is in many ways the heart of the current economic system that is failing us and our planet.

Saturday, December 6: Solidarity Economy Summit

2:30pm: Doors Open

3:30 – 3:50: Welcome

3:50 – 5:00: Deepening Democracy, Broadening Ownership: What are the models?

  • Farming Cooperatives
  • Participatory Budgeting
  • Community Land Trusts / Limited Equity Housing Coops
  • Public Banking
  • Worker Cooperatives
  • Healthcare
  • Time Bank
  • Prison Reentry
  • Accountable Policing
  • Transformative Finance
  • Environmental Justice

5:05 – 5:30: Learning from Natural Systems

5:30 – 5:40: People’s Platform

5:40 – 6:10: Break Out Groups

6:10 – 6:40: Report backs and next steps

6:40 – 6:55: Culture in our Organizing

7:00 – 8:00: Music, Video, Art, Solidarity Economy Market

To see a list of organizing groups and register for the event, please click here. We ask that those who are able to donate $10-20 please do so to keep this event free for others. To find and join the Facebook event, click here. Parents who need childcare should email by noon on 11/5 with the number and ages of kids that need care, and any special needs. Please note that the schedule listed in this email is the most up-to-date version–the event will take place 2:30 to 8, and NOT 11 to 5.

CPA Coop hiring

We have 500 kW of solar under development and have helped more than 100 organizations save nearly $1,000,000 on operating costs over the past few years. We’re looking to triple our size and hire a 2nd staff person to help us grow.
We’re looking to hire a mid-level person with some experience and who understands organizing, but with an appetite to grow and learn.
The job is based in DC and we’re looking for applications by mid December with somebody to start in February.