Drawing from the inspiration of the Jackson-Kush Plan and the vision put forward by the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, Cooperation Jackson emerged as an independent organization focused on developing a cooperative economy in Jackson in the summer of 2014. As an aspiring network of cooperative enterprises, Cooperation Jackson aims to reduce income and wealth gaps, generate living wage jobs with quality healthcare, and ensure the provision of adequate housing through the growth of worker cooperatives and other democratically owned enterprises.
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More than a decade ago, my colleagues and I at The Democracy Collaborative began using a term for a new kind of economic development – Community Wealth Building. For years, the term was so uncommon that it almost invariably appeared within quotation marks when used.
Today, a Google search identifies 124,000 entries and is growing daily.
Originally published in the CSRWire on November 24, 2014.
Interest in impact investing is growing more rapidly among community foundations than any other foundation group, reports Peter Berliner of Mission Investors Exchange.
A New Anchor Mission for a New Century: Community foundations deploying all resources to build community wealth
As the community foundation field reaches the century mark and faces growing pressure on its business model, many communities at the same time are struggling with economic distress. To meet these converging challenges, an innovative group of community foundations are beginning to deepen and shift how they work—adopting an anchor mission that seeks to fully deploy all resources to build community wealth. They are calling on all assets at their disposal—financial, human, intellectual, and political—in service of their communities’ economic well-being. Moving into territory relatively uncharted for community foundations, they are taking up impact investing and economic development—some in advanced ways, others with small steps. This report offers an overview of how 30 representative community foundations, large and small, urban and rural, are working toward adopting this new anchor mission.
“Even if the United States deals with its carbon emission problem, the Chinese won’t. So what’s the point?”
“You can’t condemn the entire global South to abandon energy development, and you can’t provide enough with solar and wind. So what’s the point?”
“Besides, the whole enterprise of trying to achieve a future sufficiently carbon-free to deal with the most important problems is politically hopeless.”
These challenges are sometimes spoken, sometimes not, but they commonly and powerfully weaken efforts to deal with the climate crisis. Despite the well-funded bluster of disingenuous or, at best, delusional skeptics and deniers, a majority of Americans believe the climate is changing in worrying ways, and many (PDF) also believe that these changes pose a threat to current and future generations. But this belief has not yet translated into action at a scale adequate to the problem we face.
The 2014 midterms did not change the dominant reality we face - one of substantial ongoing political stalemate and decay - and this sets the terms of reference for those serious about long-term fundamental change.
Building economic power through community ownership is the antidote to the systemic failures of our current system. Gar Alperovitz's lead article in the new issue of Shelterforce explores a vision for system-changing community economic development.
Modern monetary theory destroys the intellectual basis for austerity but needs a more robust political economy.
On 2 January 1879 the United States returned to the gold standard. Specie payments had been quietly suspended in 1861 to meet the costs of the Civil War, with Congress authorising the issuance of $450 million in ‘greenbacks’ – legal tender treasury notes – that greatly increased commercial liquidity and triggered an economic boom. But with wartime exigencies over, banking interests demanded a return to financial propriety and redeemable hard money. ‘Though the Civil War had been fought with fifty-cent dollars’, historian Lawrence Goodwyn explained, ‘the cost would be paid in one-hundred-cent dollars. The nation’s taxpayers would pay the difference to the banking community holding the bonds’ (Goodwyn, 1978, 11). What followed was one of the most extraordinary and creative episodes in the history of popular democratic understanding of money.
This article originally appeared in the September 4, 2014 edition of the Los Angeles Times.
The concept of "secular stagnation" — that the economy may be facing a protracted period of low growth and high unemployment — has been seeping back into economic and policy discourse. Once relegated to the margins of heterodox economic theory, the idea of stagnation as a likely ongoing direction for the economy, in fact, is now virtually mainstream, expounded by such well-known figures as Lawrence Summers and Paul Krugman.
Stagnation, however, is not a new problem. Careful examination of the U.S. economy over the last century suggests that stagnation may not be the exception but just possibly the rule of modern economic performance — a rule that was mainly broken only by the stimulus effects of massive military expenditures at three crucial junctures....
The Market Basket situation is indeed, as many commentators have remarked, nearly unprecedented in the annals of American labor relations: When have we ever seen so many workers protest so vigorously for, rather than against, their boss! (For those new to the story, the New England supermarket chain has been wracked by massive employee protests, organized without any union involvement, after a faction of the family that owns the chain took control and ousted extremely popular CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. The mobilization in support of the former chief executive has resulted in nearly empty shelves and the mobilization of angry communities of formerly happy customers.)
But beneath the surface of the singular job action, in which workers and community have banded together to demand the reinstatement of the former CEO, the conflict in New England points toward something much more fundamental: the need to build institutions that can sustain the kind of community- and worker-friendly business leadership that earned "good brother" Arthur T. such incredible loyalty.
Happily, such institutions already exist, here in the United States. While undoubtedly not perfect as a form of workplace democracy, the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) offers a proven template for making the interest workers have in a thriving business part of the discussions about a company's future.
The problem is simple, surprising, and quite honestly disgusting: Our nation’s older cities depend largely on sewage treatment systems that overflow when it rains, dumping 860 billion gallons of raw sewage a year into “fresh” water across the country—enough to cover the entire state of Pennsylvania an inch deep.
But the stormwater crisis is also a tremendous opportunity to move in the direction of a new, community sustaining local economy.
In an Al Jazeera article Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz presents a critical perspective of Thomas Piketty’s best-selling book Capital in the Twenty-First Century— emphasizing how democratizing ownership of capital can address the vast wealth inequalities that Piketty so powerfully documents.
Guest Essay in The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision, by Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
“What kind of economy is consistent with living inside a living being?” This was a question posed to us under a leafy canopy, deep in the woods of southern England, not far from Schumacher College where I’d come as a teacher. I stood listening with a group of students as resident ecologist Stephan Harding posed what for me would become a pivotal question – the only question there is, really, as we negotiate the turn from the industrial age into an entirely new age of civilization.
Ted Howard, Executive Director of The Democracy Collaborative moderated a plenary panel at CleanMed 2014 on the Cleveland anchor institution framework. A video of the discussion, which featured top leadership from the Cleveland Foundation, the City of Cleveland, University Hospitals, and the Cleveland Clinic is available here.
Democracy Collaborative Executive Director Ted Howard talks to ICIC about how anchor institutions can play a key role in inclusive development in traditionally underserved communities.
Research Associates Dave Zuckerman and Sarah McKinley discussed impact metrics for anchor institutions at the Community-Campus Partnership for Health Conference along with David Perry of the University of Illinois, Chicago and Leif Elsmo of the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz joined BALLE co-founder Michael Shuman in a conversation on how to build sustainable communities through inclusive local economic development.
Steve Dubb presents the Anchor Dashboard at the 25th Anniversary PHENND Conference: "Anchor Institutions: A Regional Approach."
Research director Steve Dubb presented on anchor institution strategies and equitable development for a PolicyLink webinar in April 2014.
Research Director Steve Dubb and Research Associate Dave Zuckerman were featured presenters at the MedStar Health Roundtable at Georgetown University.
Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz discussed the contradiction between unending economic growth and ecological sustainability.
At the end of April, Ted Howard, Executive Director of the Democracy Collaborative, delivered the keynote address on “Closing the Wealth Gap: the Community Wealth Building Paradigm” at the German Marshall Fund’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities National Network Workshop in Cleveland.
This new report, authored by Democracy Collaborative Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly, offers a comprehensive framework of community investing, ownership, and wealth control models to enhance the social, ecological, and economic well-being of rural areas.
Democracy Collaborative senior fellows Marjorie Kelly and Joe Guinan and senior researcher Thomas Hanna each contribute chapters to a new free e-book, Democratic Wealth: Building a Citizens' Economy. The authors discuss economic institutions, alternative economic system designs, and forms of democratic ownership. This open Democracy and Politics in Spires series, hosted by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, advances the conversation on visioning an economic system that serves the common good.
Gar Alperovitz and Michael Albert have been at the forefront of efforts to design and build an economy beyond capitalism for decades - efforts that have become even more relevant in our age of economic and ecological crises.
An independent Scotland should want no part in either surrendering monetary sovereignty or EU constitutionalised neoliberalism.
Peter Buffett and his wife, Jennifer, head up the NoVo Foundation, whose $1 billion endowment was made possible by Peter's father, famed investor Warren Buffett. Last year, Peter wrote a scathing opinion piece in the New York Times that called out traditional philanthropy for treating symptoms while ignoring the underlying systemic issues. Now that the dust has settled, Peter Buffett sat down with Gar Alperovitz, longtime advocate for a transition to a more just, equitable, and sustainable economic system, for a conversation about hope, change, personal commitment, and community roots.
“I’m hopeful because of young folks like Nick Tilsen. Nick built a community center that uses spiritual and cultural teachings to help young people stay off drugs and their parents live healthier lifestyles. It’s making a difference. Today he’s building something bigger, a clean energy community that will provide affordable housing and help more Lakota small businesses get off the ground. Day by day, family by family, community by community, Nick and his nonprofit have helped inspire a new beginning for Pine Ridge.Nick says we decided as a community to take ownership of our own future. And that makes me hopeful.”
- President Barack Obama, The White House Tribal Nations Conference, Dec. 5, 2012