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Communities Building Their Own Economies

Steve Dubb
Stanford Social Innovation Review

Steve Dubb writes for the Stanford Social Innovation Review on the importance of having access to tools that educate and empower low-income communities to shape their economic future.

Empowering communities to take control of economic development is slow, patient work—and people funding or supporting it need to take this into account when assessing success. Long-term, place-based commitments are critical; parachuting in and out does little to build local capacity. And the metrics we use need to take into account the often intangible relationship-building that weaves together a truly empowered community; shortcuts and quick fixes can cause real damage.

The Alternatives: how Preston took back control – podcast

Aditya Chakrabortty
The Guardian

Presented by  and produced by  and The Alternatives: how Preston took back control – podcast. The Guardian looks at the work of the Democracy Collaborative in Preston England: 

To kick off, we hear from Preston city councillor Matthew Brown about the “Preston model”, a new approach to local procurement inspired by a similar initiative in Cleveland, Ohio. In a time of austerity and cuts, how is it that Preston is now seeing an extra £75m being spent in the city?

Listen to the podcast at the Guardian 

Worker cooperatives offer real alternatives to Trump’s retrograde economic vision

Sara Aziza
Waging Nonviolence

Sara Aziza writes in Waging Nonviolence: Worker cooperatives offer real alternatives to Trump’s retrograde economic vision. In this article she highlights the work of the Democracy Collaborative's report Worker Cooperatives: Pathway to Scale and the Democracy Collaborative's strategy and proposals for reducing economic inequality: 

“The field of worker co-op development is just beginning to create the infrastructure and knowledge base needed to increase its scale and impact,” wrote Hilary Abell in “Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale,” an extensive report for the Democracy Collaborative, a research and advocacy institute dedicated to progressive economics.

Read more in Waging Nonviolence

 

A home of their own for the holidays through Frederick Community Land Trust

Jean Marbella

Jean Marbella writes for the Baltimore Sun about community land trust in Frederick. Marbella highlights the work of  Jarrid Green at The Democracy Collaborative: 

Jarrid Green is a research associate with the Democracy Collaborative, a think tank that originated at the University of Maryland with a focus on building community wealth and shared-ownership models. He said that while community land trusts comprise “a very, very small, bite-size piece of the homeownership spectrum,” interest is on the rise.

Green is researching land trusts for a paper he hopes to publish next year. He said he thinks the fact that the Baltimore trusts have joined forces should give them more leverage as they seek city funding.

“It’s going to take the community coming together around the affordable housing issue,” he said. “It’s going to take actual commitment from the politicians.”

Read more in the Baltimore Sun

The Return of Black Political Power: How 1970s History Can Guide New Black Mayors Toward a Radical City

Nishani Frazier
Truth out

Nishani Frazier Fellow at the Democracy Collaborative writes for Truth Out about the link between the return of Black Political Power and Cleveland model of community wealth building: 

The ascent of these new mayors is an opportunity to build real solutions for those left behind by decades of disinvestment and dispossession. Yet radical intentions and hard-hitting rhetoric is not enough to produce radical answers to economic problems. Black mayors must actively incorporate history and make it an essential part of this project to study the successes and failures of a previous generation. Historian Leonard Moore noted that Cleveland's Carl Stokes, the first Black mayor of a major urban city, entered politics to wreak havoc on this "corrupt machine," or rather the political structures that hindered black attainment of power in Cleveland and throughout the United States. However, he quickly learned he "didn't know where the buttons were." Not long into his tenure, Stokes not only found the buttons but began pushing them when he launched Cleveland NOW! The project combined private, state, federal, philanthropic and individual funding into a proposed $1.5 billion plan for housing improvement, employment, urban renewal, youth services and economic revitalization.

Read more from Nishani Frazier in Truthout 

Civic Engagement School #3: How To Build Community Wealth

Sarah Al-Khayyal
1812

Writing for 1812, Sarah Al-Khayyal writes an introductary article on Community Wealth development. In 1812, this article highlights the different stratgies proposed by the Democracy Collaborative: 

Community wealth building is “a systems approach to economic development that creates an inclusive, sustainable economy built on locally rooted and broadly held ownership.” The term was coined in 2005 by The Democracy Collaborative to describe a range of strategies that help anchor jobs in a community, democratize wealth and asset ownership, and make communities more economically stable.

Read more in 1812

How 6 Universities Are Keeping Promise of Being a Good Neighbor

Oscar Perry Abello
Next City

Writing for Next City, Oscar Perry Abello highlights the partnership between universities and The Democracy Collaborative. In this article, Abello writes about the anchor work by different universities, like Buffalo State College small business center supporting women and minority owned businesses.  

Two years ago, Buffalo State College, University of Missouri–St. Louis, Rutgers University–Newark, Cleveland State University, Drexel University, and Virginia Commonwealth University each made a commitment to investing, hiring and purchasing locally. Now, a new report from the Democracy Collaborative by Emily Sladek illustrates how they take seriously their role as “anchor institutions” when it comes to economic impact on their local economies.

Read more at Next City

How Cleveland’s cooperatives are giving ex-offenders a fresh start

Apolitical
Apolitical

Apolitical writes about The Evergreen Cooperatives that were founded by the Democracy Collaborative. Apolitical writes about the challenges, how they were started and results and impact of Evergreen Cooperatives. 

The project was designed by the non-profit Democracy Collaborative and established in collaboration with the Cleveland Foundation, a private charitable trust, and the City of Cleveland. The co-ops, which consist of a laundry company, an energy efficiency contractor, and America’s largest urban farm, were grown with the help of procurement contracts with Cleveland's biggest schools and universities. All three use green technologies to reduce their carbon footprint, and can also save businesses money: for example, buying solar power from Evergreen Energy Solutions makes firms eligible for tax credits. After a year of work, employees at the co-ops can buy a $3,000 stake in their company through payroll deductions over a course of years, and also have a say in how it operates.

Read more about it here 

Black Monday, ’77, When the Mill Shutdown in Youngstown Gave Birth to the Rust Belt

Gar Alperovitz
Moyers & Company

Co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative Gar Alperovitz writes for Moyers & Company  about the first steel mill in Youngstown, Ohio, and how the effort to save the mill through worker/community ownership helped lay the seeds for today's movement for a democratized economy.

On Sept. 19, 1977 — a day remembered locally as “Black Monday” — the corporate owners of the Campbell Works in Youngstown, Ohio, abruptly shuttered the giant steel mill’s doors. Instantly, 5,000 workers lost their jobs, their livelihoods and their futures. The mill’s closing was national news, one of the first major blows in the era of deindustrialization, offshoring and “free trade” that has since made mass layoffs commonplace.

Read more about it here 

Unleashing the Transformative Potential of an Equitable Economy

Dharna Noor
The Real News Network

In this video, Dharna Noor interviews Chuck Collins for the Real News Network, about the policy proposals put together by The Next System Project and Institute for Policy Studies in Reversing Inequality: Unleashing the Transformative Potential of an Equitable Economy

Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where he directs the Program on Inequality and co-edits Inequality.org. His newest book is Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good (Chelsea Green, 2016). He is co-author, with Bill Gates Sr., of Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why American Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes. He is co-author with Mary Wright of The Moral Measure of the Economy (Orbis 2008), about Christian ethics and economic life. His previous books include, 99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do About It. He is also cofounder of Wealth for the Common Good that has merged with the Patriotic Millionaires, two efforts to organize members of the 1 percent to advocate for fair tax policy. He is coauthor of the August 2016 report, Ever Growing Gap, about the racial wealth divide and author of Gilded Giving: Top Heavy Philanthropy in an Age of Extreme Inequality, a November 2016 report on the impact of inequality on philanthropy.

Watch more here

Jessica Rose in EconoUs 2017

Jessica Rose—at Econous 2017—a conference dedicated to creating shared prosperity between people, the planet, and the economy. Econous "builds on the long history of successful national conferences organized by the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet) and partners across the country since 2001." Jessica Rose in her role as speaker highlights the community wealth building framework of The Democracy Collaborative.

Read more about Jessica Rose in EconoUs 2017...

Author David Ansell Exposes Inequality's Deadly Influence

Martha Jablow
AAMCNews

Writing for AAMCNews Martha Jablow writes about the deadly affect of poverty and inequality and how the work of the Democracy Collaborative through the Healthcare Anchor Network could be vital in tackling health inequality: 

There is a new national collaborative, called the Healthcare Anchor Network, that is bringing new focus to the role of health systems in bringing economic vitality to these high-poverty neighborhoods.

Read more in AAMCNews

Bottom Up Economic Development

Phil Anderson
Reader

Phil Anderson writes for Reader in Deluth, MN about the alternatives to top-down strategies for revitalization. Reader highlights the work of The Democracy Collaborative work in different neighborhoods and communities which aims to build community wealth instead of policies that "favor big buisness:" 

Democracy Collaborative is another organization “building community wealth.” Their publication, Cities Building Community Wealth, lists 20 cities with successful local initiatives (including Madison and Minneapolis). These cover a wide range of activities to increase local ownership, create affordable housing, help small business, increase minority businesses, revitalize neighborhoods and expand renewable energy use. 

More in Reader 

Don’t Be Scared About The End Of Capitalism—Be Excited To Build What Comes Next

Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk
Fast Company

Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk write for the publication Fast Company, in this article, they highlight the work of the Democracy Collaborative through the Next System Project. Speifically looking at the innovative ideas proposed at the Next System Project. 

Fortunately, there is already a wealth of language and ideas out there that stretch well beyond these dusty old binaries. They are driven by a hugely diverse community of thinkers, innovators, and practitioners. There are organizations like the P2P (Peer to Peer) FoundationEvonomicsThe Next System Project, and the Institute for New Economic Thinking reimagining the global economy. The proposed models are even more varied: from complexity, to post-growthde-growthland-basedregenerativecircular, and even the deliciously named donut economics.

Read more about it Fast Company

 

Policy Brief: Rebuilding America's Infrastructure

Ellen Brown
The Democracy Collaborative

In The Next System Project’s first policy brief, Democracy Collaborative Fellow Ellen Brown, founder and president emeritus of the Public Banking Institute, explores what’s wrong with President Trump’s approach to infrastructure. By focusing on private investment and public-private partnerships (PPPs) to come up with the capital to invest in repairing and upgrading our infrastructure, his plan will accelerate (partial) privatization of public assets and impose huge costs upon local residents, to be repaid through local taxes and extractive and regressive user fees like tolls.

Drawing on the historical precedents of both Lincoln’s investments in railroad infrastructure and FDR’s financing strategies for the New Deal, Brown shows how public strategies for investing in infrastructure make far more sense than what Trump is likely to put on the table. She estimates that an approach grounded in the use of public depository banks, either at the federal level or spread across a state-by-state network, could cut the $1.18 Trillion financing costs associated with a $1 Trillion investment in infrastructure in the Trump plan, once the returns demanded by private investors are factored in, to a mere $200 Billion. Not only would such public banks be able to lend money for infrastructure projects at a far lower rate, the interest earned on such loans would return to the public coffers.

Brown also identifies an even bolder approach that could bring the costs of investment in infrastructure down to zero. By embracing its power to create money for the public good using an innovative “qualitative easing” approach to inject new money into the real economy, the federal government could directly cover the costs of the pressing upgrades and repairs to our nation’s roads, bridges, dams, water supplies, electrical grid, and transit lines without the need to borrow any money at all.

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