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 Author's self-portrait outside of Mondragon headquarters.

 

Five of nine of us touring Mondragon arrive on Sunday in Bilbao, make our way to Mondragon-Arrastata, get settled and find food at the Monte bar a short walk from The Hotel Mondragon where we are staying for the week-long tour.  I fall into bed at about 10:30 (4:30 pm EST), the 12 hour journey and time zone change wearing me out.  Tonight there is no reading of The Kemetian Tree of Life, my nightly fix.   

This story by Karen Thomas, of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, is reprinted from the Winter 2011 issue of Owners at Work.  It is the story about how eight workers took over a local restaurant, and turned it into a worker cooperative called Casa Nueva.  But the work did not stop there. In the 25 years that it has been operating, Casa Nueva has also helped build a regional economy. The Athens, Ohio area where they are located is a national model for food literacy because of their work.  For more information, visit the OEOC website at http://www.oeockent.org/.

Brahm Ahmadi, CEO of People's Community Market in Oakland, and founding board member of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, won a Food and Community fellowship that will allow him to deepen and expand the food activism started when he helped found People's Grocery.  See Brahm's GEO article last year on the importance of developing community leadership.  

The Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy released its press release with all the details for it's July conference activities: 

2011 Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy | Connecting Our Workplaces: Building Cooperative Economies

In the Unites States of America, socialism and communism are considered by many to be bad, tabu words, but cooperation exists, and "worker-owned cooperatives" existed and prospered for many years to this day, thanks also to the spirit of enterpreneurship that is widespread and to the practice of democracy, practice that is tought at school, starting from the elementary grade. Cooperatives are part of the self-help tradition of America.
by James West on March 30, 2011 Utah is the first State to officially recognize gold as money, according to a CNN. “The Beehive State has a new measure on the books that eliminates state taxes on the exchange of gold and silver coins and directs the legislature to study an “alternative form of legal tender.” The law, signed by Gov. Gary Herbert last week, also recognizes gold and silver coins issued by the federal government as legal tender in the state. Of course, they already are. But people use them as investments, not pocket change.
The Salinas reality helps us to pose the big questions we need to pose if we are preoccupied with processes of radical social transformation.
The New America Foundation (NAF) has made a large size policy proposal for basic economic development in the US.  To these untrained eyes and ears it would seem that it is offering a public home for building on and expanding our cooperative economy here in the states.   So I am passing it on to the more knowledgeable for assessment and action.

John McNamara and Michael Johnson have been raising some interesting discussions around the co-operative movement.  John McNamara's discussion of syndicalism and distributism in particular, following his reading of Race Matthews' book, has spurred my interest in the topic of philosophical approaches to co-operative organizing.

 

In mid-August, I arrived with my small family in the south of Brazil to volunteer at a small farm family member of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Centro Ecologico, ?the Ecology Center.?  Both the farm family and the NGO are members of the Rede Ecovida, ?the Eco-Life Network.?  The Centro Ecologico is located several hours from Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul state, which, because of its pro

I can't blog my tears and what I am feeling right now, but I know now better than I did yesterday why I am committed to solidarity and cooperation.  What else is there to say.
The Centro Ecologico has been promoting environmental sustainability and socially responsible practices for over 20 years in southern Brazil.

The top/down system we seek to change is embedded in us--in our nervous systems, our beliefs, our attitudes, our habits, and our behavior. We are what we are seeking to change.  It is not just out there.  And not only is it in here, but it is out there to a large extent because we, the change agents, re-produce it over and over and over in every kind of relationship we have. This is by no means just a tragic irony. No way. This is a great opportunity.

An early stage of translation of selections from two Portuguese texts about Banco Palmas, a community currency, banking, and entrepreneurship  enterprise initiated by the residents of the low income favela neighborhood of Conjunto Palmeiras in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil.

In the recent series on his blog, The Workers' Paradise ,McNamara is very strong on the possibility of the cooperative movement being able to move to scale.  But he wisely directs our attention to the big problems this is going to bring, problems that are already burdening cooperatives.  The primary one he refers to is “the agency problem” (which is pretty much what I mean by “top/down problem”).

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