Welcome to our first www.Community-Wealth.org e-newsletter of 2012. In this edition, we bring you a host of new developments and site features:
- Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperative Initiative continues to gather momentum. Last fall, Ohio Cooperative Solar completed its largest solar installation to date: nearly 700 panels generating more than 150,000 watts of clean energy for the city of Euclid, Ohio. The on-line environmental magazine, Grist, published an interview. The Los Angeles Times featured an article on a cooperative development initiative underway in Richmond, California.
- Last month, The Democracy Collaborative Press issued a new edition of Gar Alperovitz’s America Beyond Capitalism, which has spawned widespread coverage, including this recent article in Forbes.com and an op-ed in the New York Times. For information on upcoming events, please subscribe to Dr. Alperovitz’s mailing list.
- On a more personal note, I wanted to recommend to you a national organization committed to combating poverty and expanding opportunity for all people - LIFT. (Full disclosure: I am honored to sit on LIFT’s board of directors.) The New York Times’ David Bornstein recently profiled the group in an article entitled In the Fight Against Poverty, It’s Time for a Revolution. Amen to that!
- In the twenty-first of our continuing series of conversations with community wealth-building leaders, we interview Paul Hazen, President of the National Cooperative Business Association, about the state of the co-op movement.
- We also profile our twenty-sixth community wealth city: Houston, Texas.
As always, we have added dozens of new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol *NEW* to find the most recent additions. And don’t forget to view our regularly updated C-W Blog. You can also follow new developments on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative
NEW & RECOMMENDED:
Occupy Movement Voices Call for a More Equitable and Democratic Future
The Occupy movement has changed the conversation and This Changes Everything offers an in-depth look at where this movement came from, the core issues it seeks to highlight and the possibilites it offers. Conversations with movement participants and contributions from Naomi Klein, David Korten, Rebecca Solnit, and Ralph Nader, among others, explain how the movement’s goals are more than just diminishing the overwhelming power of Wall Street and large corporations but also shifting how people view the world, what they believe is possible in society, and achieving a more equitable and democratic future. Edited by the staff of Yes! Magazine, this book offers insights for all those taking part in the movement - whether actively protesting or expressing support - and how to get more involved.
New Economy Working Group Offers a Main Street Fix for Wall Street’s Failures
Prepared and issued by the New Economy Working Group - an informal collaborative partnership comprising the Institute for Policy Studies, Yes! Magazine, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), The Democracy Collaborative, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the Living Economies Forum — A Main Street Fix for Wall Street’s Failure expands beyond the narrow job creation debate and instead offers necessary corrective action to the deeper structual causes of the job crisis. The report offers a seven-part program for shifting economic priorities and the money system away from large, concentrated financial corporate entities to local economies responsive to community needs. In addition to a focus on local entities, the report takes a global approach, suggesting that self-reliant regional economies connected to the Earth’s biosphere and a global framework supporting democratic self-governance and economic self-reliance at all system levels are also necessary for more secure communites and economies.
Impact Investing Makes Positive Dent in Social, Environmental Issues
Offering an introduction to the developing field of impact investing and how it can deliver “blended value” throughout the investment spectrum, Impact Investing:Transforming How We Make Money While Making a Difference is the first book to survey this new industry. Authored by two leaders in this emerging sector - Antony Bugg-Levine and Jed Emerson - the book shows how this style of investing can help address critical social and environmental problems. Defining the industry for participants on all sides of the financing equation (investors, funders, and social entrepreneurs), Impact Investing illustrates the potential of this new field through multiple examples of success stories and how entreprenurial individuals and institutions are already offering this intergrated alternative.
IN THE NEWS:
Occupy Movement Invites Ideas for Strengthening Democratic, Participatory Life
The Occupy movement has called into question the current economic structure, and in these two papers, Ethan Miller and Peter Ranis offer possibilities for more democratic, participatory economies. Ranis delivers a spirited defense of the recuperated and occupied worker-owned factories in Argentina and how this same strategy in the U.S. would help concretize the Occupy movement. Miller, alternatively, proposes five core economic principles for rethinking the economy, inspired by the Occupy movement’s focus on solidarity, cooperation, and retaking of the commons. The Occupy movement has expanded the conversation of how to reclaim aspects of our society, whether factories or common spaces, and strengthen democratic, participatory life.
paper-ranis.pdf (180KB) and paper-miller.pdf (1.9MB)
Hollender Offers Firms 10 Steps To Meet their Social, Environmental Obligations
Seeking to address the crisis of confidence impacting American business, Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder of Seventh Generation Inc., presents a 10-step roadmap that he believes will help corporations fulfill their social and environmental responsibilities through more sustainable and responsible corporate governance. Among these steps, Hollender argues that businesses need greater equity ownership for all employees and should invest a minimum of 10 percent of annual corporate profits into an employee stock purchase program for all employees. Another step - and Hollender’s most radical suggestion - requires companies to take a longer term view of capital returns, restricts the percentage of a company one can own to 15 percent, tries to eliminate investment by financial intermediaries, and requires each employee to own some form of equity in the company from their date of hire.
International Year of Cooperatives May Usher in New Financial Support To Start Co-ops
Focusing on recent efforts to form worker cooperatives in New York City, this article by Carla Murphy in the Gotham Gazette notes the slow but steady growth of small employee-owned businesses across the country. Murphy explains how funding limitations from banks that often do not recognize the model have limited the growth of cooperatives to come-as-you-are sectors like cleaning or childcare. However, other funding sources may be emerging as the year of cooperatives begins in 2012. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has pledged funding to start three new worker cooperatives per year in low-income neighborhoods - a significant number considering fewer than 20 currently exist in the city - and U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah will introduce a bill to help grow co-ops nationwide.
Concentrated Poverty Growth in 2000s Erases Positive Gains of the 1990s
Examining trends in neighborhood poverty, this paper from the Metropolitan Policy Program confirms what earlier studies this decade suggested - many of the gains in reducing concentrated poverty in the 1990s have been significantly pared back over the last decade. Key findings of the analysis show that Midwestern and Southern metro areas measured the largest increase in concentrated poverty rates in the 2000s and that the population of extreme poverty neighborhoods rose more than twice as fast in suburbs as in cities during the same period. Additionally, compared to 2000, residents of extreme-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to be white, native-born, high school or college graduates who are homeowners and not recipients of public assistance, although blacks still comprise the largest share of the population in these neighborhoods.
Movement Leaders and Philanthropic Funders Need To Co-Create New Metrics
In Transactions, Transformations, Translations: Metrics That Matter for Building, Scaling, and Funding Social Movements, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity seeks to bridge the gap between the philanthropic and community organizing worlds by arguing for a new set of metrics that can capture not just organizations and institutions but movements and intersections also. Finding that movement builders want a common language and common framework and that funders are willing to take more of a chance than originally thought, the report makes eight recommendations, including co-creating a new metrics toolbox by leaders, organizations, and funders and making sure there are individuals trained to use them. Additionally, the authors suggest linking policy outcomes with broader social change, improving communication and documentation of innovation and experiments, and having funders adopt a longer term movement frame when evaluating projects.
Residential Segregation of Families by Income Doubles from 1970 to 2009
Authored by Sean F. Reardon and Kendra Bischoff of Stanford and supported by the US2010 project, this paper examines how mixed-income communities are becoming increasingly fewer as residential segregation by high and low-income earners rose dramatically from 1970 to 2009. Over nearly 40 years, the number of families living in neighborhoods labeled affluent or poor has more than doubled from 15 to 31 percent, with the affluent more likely to be segregated than the poor. Another notable key finding is that income segregation among black and Hispanic families is much higher than that of white families and spiked significantly in the last decade. They argue that the consequences of this segregation could be significant as it may lead to lower public and private investments in resources, services, and amenities that benefit large shares of the population, such as schools, parks, and public services.
Six Cities Tackle the Foreclosure Crisis To Build More Resilient Communities
Exploring different methods communities have taken to become more resilient, this report from the National League of Cities examines six cities around the country - Camden, NJ; Dayton, OH; Milwaukee, WI; Oakland, CA; Phoenix, AZ and Tampa, FL. These cities all took separate approaches toward addressing the foreclosure crisis, including instituting several innovative solutions. In Oakland, the city awarded over 60 percent of its federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds to a new Oakland Community Land Trust, ensuring the continued impact of this large public investment in low-income neighborhoods in the future. In another innovative approach, the city of Dayton partnered with the Wright-Patterson Credit Union, the state’s largest, to develop a mortgage product specifically tailored to buyers of these foreclosed homes, using some of its NSP money to finance the arrangement.
Study Shows Which Corporations Paid Their Fair Share in Taxes from 2008 to 2010
Citizens for Tax Justice and The Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy have issued a new study that scrutinizes the federal income taxes paid by 280 of America’s largest and most profitable corporations in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In each year, all of these companies were profitable, reporting a total pretax U.S. profit of $1.4 trillion, yet on average, these same corporations paid only about half the U.S.’s 35 percent corporate tax rate. The study provides all the findings in detail, including showing that a number of these corporations paid no taxes at all, nearly a quarter paid under 10 percent, and nearly the same amount paid the full 35 percent. Aiming to a provide a clearer picture of the loophole-ridden tax system, the authors of this study call for more transparent disclosure of corporate annual tax reports.
C-W.ORG INTERVIEWS WITH COMMUNITY BUILDERS:
Interviews with Community Wealth Builders
In this edition, Paul Hazen, President and CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), who will be leaving after 13 years as head of the organization, discusses his passion for co-ops, his time and achievements during his tenure at NCBA, and the possibilities for the cooperative movement in 2012, the International Year of Cooperatives, and beyond.
The twentieth-sixth in our continuing series of profiles of Community Wealth Cities: Houston, Texas
The fourth largest city in the nation and a corporate industry center, Houston is also home to a number of community wealth building initiatives, including multiple worker- and city-owned companies, strong city-community partnerships to help build assets for low-income individuals, and green space development, such as Houston’s first major downtown park Discovery Green (pictured left).
Community Wealth Builders Talk Strategies for Increasing Equity
A group of over 2,300 community wealth builders from five countries, 46 states, and 315 cities came to Detroit, Michigan on November 9th and 10th to participate in PolicyLink’s fourth triennial conference. Easily the largest gathering of its sort, The Equity Summit lifted up strategies to increase social and economic equity in US society.
University Leaders Gather To Advance University-Community Partnerships
A group of roughly 100 university presidents, researchers, and university-community partnership center leaders gathered in Philadelphia on December 15th to discuss how to use university resources to build community wealth and strengthen civic engagement. The Forum, convened by the Anchor Institutions Task Force (coordinated by New York City-based group Marga, Inc.) and the Campaign for the Civic Mission for Schools, with the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, aimed to promote civic education and anchor institution-community partnerships across the nation.
The Alliance for Multicultural Community Services
Originally established in 1986 in Houston, Texas as an alliance of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Loatian, and Ethiopian community organizations in Harris County, the Alliance for Multicultural Community Services has grown from an organization focused on refugee resettlement to one that benefits members of all nationalities across a multitude of sectors. Its Asset Building Department maintains two Individual Development Account programs (one with a 1:1 match rate and the other with a 2:1) and a micro-lending program. The micro-lending program provides loans of $500 to $15,000 to help refugees start a business, along with requiring them to take a business development-training course. The Alliance is exploring the process of owning and operating affordable housing, provides social services, and has just started a community garden project to train refugees in farming skills.
Big Ideas for Jobs
An initiative of the University of California, Berkeley with the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and W.K Kellogg Foundation, Big Ideas for Jobs is an effort to tackle unemployment in the short-term. Bringing together more than a dozen experts from a variety of fields, the project tasked with them with coming up with job creation ideas that are practical, tested, require limited investment, and available to low-skilled workers. In addition to listing the many reports and ideas for this initiative, the website also allows for visitors to submit their own short-term employment ideas to be considered for inclusion in the next Big Jobs report.
Burnett Staffing Specialists
Founded in 1974 in Houston, Texas by current president Sue Burnett, Burnett Staffing Specialist has grown to be the 16th largest employee-owned firm in the country, the largest employee-owned business in the state, and the seventh largest woman-owned business in Texas. Focused on helping careers and companies grow, Burnett Staffing Specialist employs 98 full-time staff, serves more than 1,000 clients across 10 Texas offices and posted revenues of nearly $65 million in 2010.
Econ4 is focused on redefining the economics profession - shifting it from a discipline focused on short-run output and profits to one that aims to secure long-run human well-being. To accomplish this goal, an economy must meet four necessary conditions: a level playing field, resilience, true-cost pricing and real democracy. Econ4 strives to change the current orthodoxy through disseminating these ideas through new media, transforming the traditional introductory economics class for undergraduates, altering the profession by targeting how economics PhD’s are trained, and by trying to instill a body of ethics into a profession that has often refused to adopt or talk about one.
USA International Year of Cooperatives
The United Nations has declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives because of the role of the cooperative business model in achieving economic viability while also contributing to social and community benefits. The key strategic priorities of the Cooperative Steering Committee are to help build and sustain the cooperative movement, help achieve enabling legislation and policies, increase access to capital, and improve education about cooperatives. Visit the site to see how you can be part of expanding the movement.