Welcome to our latest www.Community-Wealth.org e-newsletter. This quarter we bring you the following new developments:
- For the past year, we’ve reported on our work with The Cleveland Foundation and our anchor institution partners in the Greater University Circle Initiative, a path-breaking program to create green collar jobs and ownership opportunities for residents of some of Cleveland’s most underserved neighborhoods. We are pleased to report that this month the doors will open on the first cooperatively owned business that has been created through the Initiative - the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry. The greenest industrial-scale commercial laundry in Northeast Ohio, ECL will clean over 10 million pounds of health care bed linen a year, and will employ 50 worker-owners when fully operational. Several other new businesses are in the pipeline. To learn more about the Evergreen strategy, see our article in this summer’s Yes! Magazine and listen to a recent public radio story highlighting Cleveland’s innovative job creation strategy.
- The Democracy Collaborative recently participated in one of ten task forces that have advised HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan regarding critical issues facing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The work resulting from these efforts, Anchor Institutions as Partners in Building Successful Communities and Local Economies, examines the role the federal government might play to leverage anchor institutions for community benefit. In March, our colleague Ira Harkavy of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania outlined the task force’s recommendations to the Secretary. In June, the Congressional Urban Caucus held a briefing on the report.
- This month, we feature the eleventh interview in our continuing series of conversations with community wealth-building leaders. This edition: Dan Kildee, Treasurer of Genesee County and Founder and CEO of the Land Bank of Genesee County, based in Flint, Michigan. Land banks in Flint, Cleveland, and elsewhere are playing a vital role in addressing the national foreclosure crisis.
- We also profile our sixteenth community wealth city: Los Angeles, California.
As always, we have added dozens of new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol to find the most recent additions. And don’t forget to view our regularly updated C-W Blog.
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative
NEW & RECOMMENDED:
Turning the Economic Crisis into an Opportunity
The Summer 2009 issue of Yes! magazine focuses on alternative strategies and models for organizing work and business in the United States — from small community banks and local currencies to worker owned companies in the South Bronx and Cleveland. Writes Executive Editor Sarah Van Gelder, “As the financial system continues to crumble, a new economy is taking form.”
Our friends at Yes! are offering special discounted subscriptions to readers of Community-Wealth.org. To take advantage of this great deal, click here.
Book Profiles Localist Movements in Global Economy
Even as economies move increasingly towards globalization, there has been a relatively unnoticed but equally strong movement towards local economies. Largely unstudied, these “localist movements” are the focus of David Hess’ new book, Localist Movements in a Global Economy. Hess examines localism in the United States and its potential for promoting social justice and environmental sustainability. After a broad discussion of specific types of localism, such as “buy local” campaigns and urban agriculture, Hess concludes that although localism is not the answer to globalization, it is an important factor in building a more democratic, just, and sustainable politics. See:
Social Enterprise Practitioners Develop Guide for Double-Bottom Line Ventures
The newest book in the Social Venture Network series, Mission, Inc.: The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Enterprise is a how-to-guide to starting and running a successful social enterprise. Authored by social enterprise leaders Kevin Lynch and Julius Walls Jr., this guide surveys more than twenty social enterprise leaders and addresses many operational obstacles they face, including the difficulty of balancing an organization’s social mission and efficiency. See:
Report Calls on Obama Administration To Put the “UD” Back in HUD
Comprised of reports by ten tasks forces led by Paul C. Brophy and Rachel D. Godsil, Retooling HUD for a Catalytic Federal Government: A Report to Secretary Shaun Donovan offers a blueprint for how the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can address critical issues, repositioning itself in the 21st century and ultimately advancing the agency’s mission and the public good. Primary among these tasks is putting the “UD” back in HUD, which requires a shift away from an exclusive emphasis on affordable housing to an approach that balances housing work with programs that can address broader issues of metropolitan revitalization and redevelopment. Among the topics examined are anchor institution-based strategies for economic development, vacant property reclamation, greening the nation’s housing stock and ways to promote regional collaboration.
IN THE NEWS:
CDFI Develops Unique Model for Maine’s Native American Community
Founded in 2001, Four Directions is Maine’s first and only Native American community development financial institution (CDFI). This article explains how Four Directions, committed to the principles of tribal self-determination and cooperation, is uniquely positioned to understand the nuances - legal and cultural — of the community it serves while filling the need created by the absence of conventional lenders.
Should the United States Create Its Own Sovereign Wealth Fund?
In this article, Dalton Conley, Chair of Sociology at New York University—and the only sociologist ever to receive the National Science Foundation’s Alan Waterman award (awarded annually to the nation’s top scientist under the age of 35) — argues that the United States should follow the lead of China, Norway, and Singapore, and create its own sovereign wealth fund. Joining the global arena of sovereign wealth funds - whose total combined assets are around $2.4 trillion - would not only better leverage U.S. federal assets, but would also help boost the national savings rate and provide an important funding base for socially responsible investment.
Neighborhood Stabilization Program Expands Potential for Land Banking
With the creation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, Congress addressed for the first time the problem of vacant property in U.S. communities. In this article, Emory University Law Professor Frank Alexander explains land-banking basics and its community benefits. By bringing a rational approach to public land management, land banks help stabilize local neighborhoods and enable community plans to guide its use, instead of allowing vacant land to become a speculative commodity on national and international markets.
CDFI Leader Urges Arts Investment in the Wake of the Financial Crisis
Speaking before the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Jeremy Nowak, President of The Reinvestment Fund, a community development loan fund based in Philadelphia, discussed the “debt bubble” that caused the financial crisis, and how this crisis impacts the creative sector of the economy and civil society. In order to successfully prevail through this economic crisis, the creative sector needs greater collaboration, a more defined core mission, and to reaffirm its economic importance. Most important to Nowak, the creative arts must help to provide a counter-balance to the kind of consensus logic that nearly brought down our economic system.
National Survey Examines Neighborhood Stabilization Program Efforts
The Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 allocated $3.92 billion to 306 state and local governments for the purchase and redevelopment of foreclosed homes, blighted structures, and vacant land, but allocations were contingent on each locale producing the required action plan. Due to time constraints, few states or local governments collaborated or discussed strategies, resulting in plans that varied significantly in their vision and detail. This Enterprise report analyzes 87 of these NSP action plans, identifying potential best practices and providing a qualitative analysis of fund distribution and allocation.
Growing Co-op Sector Now Exceeds $3 Trillion in Assets
Surveying more than 16,000 cooperatives nationally, this report from the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives provides an in-depth look at the scope of U.S. cooperatives’ economic activity and their impact on the lives and businesses of American citizens. Overall, the authors found that nearly 30,000 cooperatives operate at 73,000 places of business throughout the United States, owning more than $3 trillion in assets, while generating $650 billion in revenue and $75 billion in wages and benefits. Americans maintain 350 million memberships in cooperatives (340 million in consumer cooperatives) and generate nearly $80 billion in total impact from patronage refunds and dividends.
Youngstown, Ohio Develops New Vision for Reclaiming Vacant Land
Stressing the importance of vacant property reclamation as a first step in stabilizing and restoring neighborhoods, this National Vacant Properties Campaign (NVPC) policy assessment was prepared for the Youngstown-Mahoning County Vacant Properties Initiative. Evaluating existing vacant property programs and policies in Youngstown and Mahoning County, Ohio, this report offers specific recommendations, including instituting a regional real property information system and establishing a joint city-county land bank, to help address the negative impact of vacant property in the city and region.
C-W.ORG INTERVIEWS WITH COMMUNITY BUILDERS:
Dan Kildee has been Treasurer of Genesee County of Michigan since 1997. He is the Founder and CEO of the Genesee Land Bank - Michigan’s first land bank - and is President of the Genesee Institute, a research and training institute focusing on smart growth, urban land reform, and land banking. In this C-W.org Interview, Kildees discusses the state of the economy in his hometown of Flint, the state of land banking in the United States, land banking policy objectives, and current challenges faced by reclamation activists operating in the context of the nation’s record wave of foreclosures.
The sixteenth in our continuing series of profiles ofCommunity Wealth Cities: Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles is home to some of the nation’s leading community development corporations; it is also known for innovation in other areas, including university-community partnerships and transit-oriented development. Organized labor has played a major role in the community wealth building efforts in Los Angeles, leading the development of community benefit agreements - contracts between a developer and a coalition of community groups and unions that generates mutual cooperation instead of conflict.
Summit Aims to Extend Social Enterprise in New Directions
More than 350 people from across the United States and beyond came to the tenth Summit of the Social Enterprise Alliance, held April 15-17 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference served as the launching pad for a broad-ranging discussion on many themes, including the current economic crisis, potential policy openings for social enterprise, and expanding the definition of social enterprise to include a broader range of socially oriented ventures.
Conference Promotes Innovation in Community Development Strategy
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’s second biennial conference on “Exploring Innovation,” held April 22-24 in St. Louis, Missouri brought together over 100 community development practitioners, researchers, bankers, and government officials to examine ways to develop new community development strategies. At the conference, a number of the plenary session highlighted innovations in community development policy and practice.
Co-op Annual Meetings Address Economic and Environmental Challenges
Two leading national co-op organizations held their annual meetings in Washington, D.C. this past May. The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) held its conference on May 5-6. The NCB (chartered as the National Consumer Cooperative Bank) event immediately followed the end of the NCBA conference on the afternoon and evening of May 6th. Both organizations examined ways to expand the co-op movement to address the problems posed by the nation’s economic difficulties.
Reclamation Activists Discuss Potential Remedies to Foreclosure Wave
Two years ago, the first Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference focused largely on the issue of long-term abandonment. Now, the foreclosure crisis has added new urgency to reclamation work. A group of roughly 550 people from across the country came to discuss these issues the second national Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference held June 1st through 3rd in Louisville, Kentucky.
Supported by the MacArthur Foundation and LISC, CommunityCollab is a new web-based resource designed to help community revitalization practitioners develop new professional relationships, share knowledge, and learn from each other. Although still in the development phase, to date CommunityCollab has compiled a directory of more than 583 members - 394 organizations across 108 U.S. cities - who are working to improve their home communities.
Community Innovators Lab at MIT
With a focus on democratic engagement, shared wealth generation, and urban sustainability, the Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) is a center for research and practice within the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that promotes collaboration and partnership between MIT and community organizations. Among CoLab’s initiatives are Green Hub, which seeks to leverage the emerging “green” economy for poverty reduction and social inclusion; GainShare, a market approach to help communities leverage their own untapped assets, create sustainable businesses, and generate shared wealth; and its New Orleans program, which employs a strong participatory neighborhood planning process working with local CDCs to develop a community land trust and other housing strategies.
Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, PolicyForResults.org focuses on issues relating to child and family wellbeing. In order to accomplish the site’s goal of providing a comprehensive resource for policymakers, only indicators and strategies that meet stringent criteria are added, including limiting indicators to those for which 50-state data is available. Currently being launched in three phases and then added to continuously, the site’s first phase will focus on policy issues in four key areas relating to the well-being of children and families: Strategies for Tight Budget Times; Creating Economic Opportunity for Families and Reducing Poverty; Improving Early School Success and Grade Level Reading.
Founded by Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest, in 1992 in response to the civil unrest in Los Angeles, as a means of providing employment training for former gang members, Homeboy Industries has since grown to include a bakery, silkscreen, maintenance, and landscaping businesses. All told the enterprises generate nearly $1 million a year in revenue while providing employment to over 60 at-risk youth and providing job placements for hundreds a year more.