GEO’s ADWC 3 / ECWD 2015 Conference

A diversity of kindred approaches to alternative political economics is emerging across the country. Many of them share a regional focus. This is showing unusual potential for advancing the development of worker co-operatives through inter-cooperative and cross-sector networking. We are calling this Regional Cooperative/Solidarity Economic Development (C/SE).*

Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO) will convene, organize and implement a one-day mini-conference that will focus on this emergence. It will be an integral part of the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy’s (ECWD) Conference in Worcester, MA. This ECWD conference will take place over a Friday through Sunday most likely in June or July of 2015. Exact dates and location will be announced. Since it will be GEO’s third Advancing the Development Worker Cooperatives conference, we are calling it “ADWC 3.”

The purpose of this one-day mini-conference is to explore ways to build local economies, coalitions and other practices that will help to solve economic and social problems in our communities. We are reaching out to leaders of these diverse political economic initiatives across the country as well as leaders from social justice and civic engagement movements who are and who want to be supportive allies in regional economic development. It is what GEO is calling Movements Moving Together.

The focus of the ADWC3 mini-conference will be on 1) exploring the challenges and opportunities organizers and developers are dealing with in their regions; 2) identifying the resources they need and how the resources might be acquired; and 3) how we can work together cross-regionally over the coming years.

In addition to worker co-operatives and other co-operatives, a diversity of kindred approaches to alternative economics has been evolving over the past few years in the US. Many of these approaches are deeply oriented to bottom-up development, where democracy and cooperation can be more deeply rooted locally.

Right now cooperative/solidarity networks are emerging in more than a few regions across the country: In western Massachusetts, central Massachusetts, New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Madison, Detroit, Jackson, MS, Austin, TX and the Bay Area, to name a few of them.

The ADWC 3 project has three key features. First, the mini-conference itself. It will happen on the Friday of the three-day gathering in June or July of 2015.

Second, ECWD and GEO will also organize a workshop track to run during the regular ECWD conference on that Saturday and Sunday. These workshops will bring a variety of perspectives on this kind of regional development.

Third, prior to the conference, GEO will also publish an online collection of articles –- what we in GEO call a “Theme” — written by participants and others focusing on the most relevant issues. That Theme will be posted a month or so prior to the conference.

How to participate

We hope you will join us.  You can tune your involvement from low- to high-grade. There will be four specific ways to do this:

·         helping to develop the conference themes through an online forum;

·         giving a workshop at the ECWD part of the weekend;

·         contributing to the GEO online newsletter; and/or

·         participating in the mini-conference itself.

You can begin by joining the ADWC 3 Google Group. To do so, send an email letter to one of the conference organizers:

Ajowa Ifateyo, ajowa.geo.adwc3@gmail.com, or

Michael Johnson, michael.geo.adwc3@gmail.com

The conference itself

The structure of the conference will involve three 1½ hour interactive group discussions, a light breakfast, lunch, two breaks, and a wrap-up discussion. There will be no formal presentations during the day.

The objective of this structure is for participants to talk directly with each other about

1) the challenges and opportunities they are dealing with in their regions; 2) the resources they need; and 3) how we can work together across regions over the coming years.

The specific topics of the discussions will be developed through consultations with potential participants over several months leading up to the conference. This will happen through exchanges in the Google Group.

The process will involve two facilitators for each discussion. As we did in ADWC 1 in Baltimore in 2011, at least 25 participants will sit in a circle for face-to-face interaction around the topic at hand. Another 30 or more observers will encircle this group during each of the three discussions. The specifics on how this will be arranged will be worked out through our online collaboration via the ADWC 3 Google Group.

Interaction among these two groups will occur during breaks and at lunch during the mini-conference; at track workshops; and during social times during the two days of the ECWD conference.

Again, if you are interested in being involved or just keeping informed on how things evolve, join the ADWC 3 Google Group by sending an email letter to one of the conference organizers:

Ajowa Ifateyo, ajowa.geo.adwc3@gmail.com, or

Michael Johnson, michael.geo.adwc3@gmail.com

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