E-Newsletter | February 2013

Jay Owen Community Development Solutions

The latest news on community wealth building initiatives!

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Dear Colleague,

Welcome to our latest e-newsletter, with a new look for 2013. In this winter edition, we bring you a host of new developments and site features:

  • Today, February 8, The Democracy Collaborative and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT will release the findings of our case study: The Anchor Mission: Leveraging the Power of Anchor Institutions to Build Community Wealth. The report focuses on the path-breaking Vision 2010 Program implemented in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio by University Hospitals. Over a five year period, the initiative targeted more than $1 billion of procurement locally to create jobs, empower minority- and female-owned businesses and create a “new normal” for responsible, community-focused business practices in the region. 
  • We’re excited to announce that the third business in Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperative network, Green City Growers, has planted its first crop of leafy greens. GCG will produce 3 million heads of lettuce and 300,000 pounds of herbs annually – while providing its worker owners with living wage jobs, no-cost health care benefits and wealth building through profit-sharing. The cooperative’s official grand opening is scheduled for February 25th.
  • Democracy Collaborative staff continue to write and place articles on a number of important topics. Co-founder Gar Alperovitz argues that progressives at the state, county and municipal levels can further democratize wealth and power using a “checkerboard strategy.” Gar and Keane Bhatt of our research staff analyzed the reporting of the Wall Street Journal to demonstrate how the mainstream media underplays the importance of employee ownership. Our research director, Steve Dubb, recently wrote about the critical role anchor institutions can play in economic development. 
  • In December, Walter Wright of the Cleveland Foundation and I led a “Local First” webinar for our friends at BALLE. Our presentation explored how communities can engage anchor institutions to “buy local” and build community wealth.
  • In the twenty-fifth of our continuing series of conversations with community wealth-building leaders, we interview Blake Jones, Co-Founder, President, and CEO ofNamasté Solar. Jones discusses the early stages of Namasté’s development, its current operations and structure, and the future of the solar industry and the green economy.

As always, we have added 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 BlogYou can also follow new developments on Facebook and Twitter.

Ted Howard
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative

New & Recommended

History Offers Blueprint for Reversing Plutocrat Control

In The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970, labor journalist Sam Pizzigatti provides an in-depth account of the battle against plutocracy in America in the 20th Century and the rise of the middle class. By recalling this oft-forgotten history of past political struggle,The Rich Don’t Always Win offers a powerful example of how to fight back in the face of a once again ascendant plutocracy in America. Read More»

Cooperatives Promote Sustainable Future

In The Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy, Michael Lewis of the Canadian Center for Community Renewal and Pat Conaty of Cooperatives UK, argue that climate change and its concomitant rising energy costs compel us to redirect our economic lives — using cooperatives, trusts and the social economy — locally and regionally. Highlighting innovative practices from across the globe, the book covers the “how-tos” of energy efficiency, low-cost financing, local food systems, affordable housing and land use reform, and democratic and cooperative ownership.Read More»

Manual Helps Immigrants Form Worker Cooperatives

Immigrant Worker Owned Cooperatives: A User’s Manualprovides detailed information to immigrant communities about how to create, finance, manage, and grow worker cooperatives. Penned by Minsun Ji of El Centro Humanitario and Tony Robinson of the University of Colorado, Denver, the manual gets into the nitty-gritty of organizing and managing a cooperative. Read More»

In the News

Postal Savings System Would Benefit Unbanked

To protect the un- and under-banked from excessive fees and high-cost predatory lenders, Karen Harris argues that we reinstate the US Postal Savings System.  In an article for The Shriver Brief, Harris shows that the now-defunct system once provided safe banking services for immigrants and working people that private banks did not.  Citing examples of successful postal banking services in other countries, Harris shows how reinstating such a system in this country could help underserved populations by providing affordable banking services, while giving the Post Office a needed boost in jobs and income. Read More»

ICA Calls for a Global Co-Operative Future

The UN-proclaimed International Year of the Cooperative may have ended, but the international cooperative movement shows no signs of slowing down. In their newly released paper, Blueprint for a Co-Operative Decade, the International Cooperative Alliance lays out their “2020 Challenge,” which aims to position the cooperative form of business as the world’s leading model for economic, social, and environmental sustainability. Read More»

Research Shows Rapid Growth of Green Revolving Funds

Greening the Bottom Line, a report from the Sustainable Endowments Institute, highlights the role of green revolving funds — an energy-efficient financing mechanism that colleges, universities, and nonprofits have increasingly adopted as a means to fund sustainability initiatives in their buildings and operations. Authors Emily Flynn and Mark Orlowski show that the cost savings of these funds boost the bottom line for institutions while also replenishing the fund for investment in the next round of green retrofits, thus establishing a sustain­able funding cycle. Read More»

Podcast Showcases Evergreen Cooperatives

In this podcast, The Story of Stuff Project features Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives. Sustainability activist Annie Leonard highlights cooperatives as an alternative to the “take waste system.” Talking with Evergreen Cooperative’s Medrick Addison of Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, Michael Mckenzie of Evergreen Energy Solutions, and Mary Donnell of Green City Growers, Leonard shows how the cooperatives are transforming an economically distressed neighborhood and changing lives at the same time. Read More»

ALEC Policies Fail to Promote Economic Growth

Good Jobs First and The Iowa Policy Project use statistical analysis to show how policies advocated by the American Legislatives Exchange Council (ALEC) have not only failed to produce positive economic results but have actually resulted in worse outcomes for states. Written by Dr. Peter Fischer, the report finds that ALEC’s proscribed policies to reduce or abolish progressive taxes, weaken unions, invest less in education and public services, and shrink the social safety net have led to economic inequality, wage suppression, income stagnation, and a sharp deduction in state and local revenue. Read More»

Urban Agriculture Revitalizes Communities

PolicyLink examines how cities across the United States are adopting urban agriculture as a means to address equity issues in our food system and communities. This report details the benefits of urban agriculture, looks at innovative strategies to overcome common challenges, and offers policy recommendations to ensure equity in the growing movement. Read More»

Documentary Showcases Strengths, Challenges of Worker Cooperatives

The documentary Shift Change, produced by Melissa Young with Mark Dworkin and Moving Images, highlights the Mondragón cooperatives in Spain’s Basque Country, as well as a number of U.S. cooperatives. A recent review points out how the film also shows that operating a successful worker-owned co-op is not always simple.Shift Change, this review notes, presents worker-owned co-op as an attractive, alternative business model — especially in countries hit hard by the global economic crisis— while honestly portraying the challenges of sustaining a successful enterprise. Read More»

Report Presents Framework for Equitably Greening Human Capital

This Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) report looks at what works (and what does not) in the green economy. Author Sarah White argues for a more coherent, cross-sectoral and broad-based approach to developing human capital and greening community economic development that is driven by equity, democratic participation, and sustainability. The report offers a number of possible interventions — highlighting best practices and lessons learned — that bring together workers, employers, industry and training systems in and out of typical clean energy sectors. Read More»

Paper Calls on Feds to Promote Anchor Partnerships

In a policy memo from the Progressive Policy Institute, Ira Harkavy and Rita Axelroth Hodges of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania call on government to promote among institutions of higher education the adoption of an anchor institution mission. Anchor institutions, the authors say, have the potential to ground civic partnerships working to revitalize local communities. To do so, they must make civic engagement a core principle across all levels of the institution. The federal government, by targeting existing resources, directing financial incentives and mobilizing the bully pulpit, can help catalyze this shift. Read More»

Metrics Provide Tool to Assess Transit-Oriented Development

In this report, Reconnecting America focuses on creating complete communities – places where people can live, work, move, and thrive in a healthier, more equitable, and more economically competitive way — and identifies opportunity areas — the places within our cities and regions where we can get a jump-start on this vision.  Rating all 366 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas, the authors offer examples of successful policies and strategies for “completing” communities — from zoning changes and suburban retrofits to community benefit agreements. Read More»

Manual Identifies Ways to Confront Debt

The Debt Resistors Operations Manual, put together by an anonymous collec­tive of activists from Strike Debt and Occupy Wall Street, contains practical information, resources and tips for individuals dealing with indebtedness in the United States. Covering all aspects of the debt system — from personal debt to municipal debt — the manual shows how households, cities and countries are controlled by this systems. Read More»

C-W Interviews: Blake Jones

In this edition, we interview Blake Jones, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Namasté Solar. Beginning his career in the oil industry, Jones co-founded Namasté Solar in late 2004, which later became an employee-owned cooperative in 2011. In this interview, Jones discusses what he learned in the oil and gas industry, the early stages of Namasté’s development, the future of the solar industry and the green economy, and the details of how Namasté functions as a worker-owned cooperative.Read More»

C-W Cities: Jacksonville, FL

29th in our continuing series of Community Wealth Cities: Jacksonville, Florida. The eleventh most populous city in the nation and the largest in Florida, Jacksonville is home to community wealth building initiatives at city, regional, and grassroots levels. Both the city-owned port and city-owned electric utility serve as important economic engines. Community-led efforts are striving to revitalize the city’s especially hard-hit northwest neighborhoods.Read More»

Conference Report

Penn’s Netter Center Celebrates 20th Anniversary

More than 500 people from over 70 universities and over two-dozen countries gathered at the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania to discuss ways to better use university resources to build community wealth in neighborhoods and promote partnerships with public schools. Setting the tone of the conference, Ira Harkavy, Founder and Director of the Netter Center, opened by arguing that effective partnerships not only advance learning, but also strengthen democracy and improve the quality of life in cities around the world. Read More»

Featured Websites

Be A Localist

Founded in 2001, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) supports the growth of sustainable local economies through connecting leaders, spreading solutions that work, and driving investment toward local economies. BALLE promotes localism and believes that ownership, place, opportunity, nature and relationships all matter in creating real prosperity for all. BALLE’s website connects members to local business networks and affinity groups, promotes success stories, and provides resources to help local businesses better articulate their economic impact. Find Out More»

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) is a national organization dedicated to the needs of restaurant workers and committed to improving their wages and working conditions. ROC United engages in participatory research and policy work, employer negotiations, workplace justice campaigns, and leadership development to become the collective voice for low-wage restaurant workers across the country. Find Out More»

Operation New Hope

Operation New Hope was founded in 1999 to revitalize Jacksonville’s Historic Springfield. The nonprofit has restored more than 76 homes in Springfield and the Eastside neighborhoods of Jacksonville. The nonprofit is also responsible for the Eastside Community Garden, which provides educational, recreational, and nutritional benefits for the community. Find Out More»

JEA (formerly Jacksonville Electric Authority)

JEA is the seventh largest municipally owned electric utility in the country, serving nearly 420,000 customers across a 900-square-mile service area. It also provides water and sanitation services to area customers. When aggregating the number of customers for each of its services, the company serves more than 950,000 accounts in Northeast Florida. In 2011, the company had more than $2 billion in total revenue and held assets of over $1.8 billon. Find Out More»