Financing

[Editor's note:This is part three of Jim Johnson's interview with Ben Sandel of the CDS Consulting Co-op.  In this section, Ben discusses the recent explosive growth of food co-ops, cooperative responses to increased competition in the organic food market, and possible ways to expand food co-operatives beyond middle-class neighborhoods.  Parts one and two can be found here and

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In the past year, over a dozen investors made an amazing commitment to the future of worker cooperation and worker-controlled enterprise by investing in Workers Diner. These investments signaled the potential for a new method of raising startup capital for worker cooperative businesses.

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The debate over who lost Detroit and how to fix it rages on while Politico reports in “Break-up-the-big-banks fever hits the states” that legislators from “at least 18 states have introduced resolutions this year calling on Congress to split up banking giants by putting back in place a wall between commercial banking, taking deposits and making loans, and investment banking, the world of traders and deal-makers.” It turns out that quarantining the banksters and salvag

Over 125 years ago, the Populist Movement launched a third party in the US and their most compelling platform plank was "greenbacks," the elimination of the rigid gold standard and a freeing up of the money supply. Here we are over a century later and Richard Nixon freed us from the last vestiges of Gold in forty years ago and our central Banksters have expanded the money supply at the behest of Presidents and their Bankster allies.

I see economic democracy at three main levels: 1) workers gaining greater control of the workplace and participating in management, 2) collectively controlling investment funds to benefit local and regional economies, and 3) democratically allocating resources through a national investment fund to achieve social goals.
At the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), our approach has been to help nonprofit organizations develop the financial capacity to keep providing the programming their missions demand. The end goal of this work is the facilitation of social change, but the approach demands an initial focus on the welfare of individual organizations. But what if we approached the question from another angle? What if we started by focusing on the needs of whole communities and then asked what resources individuals and organizations - including nonprofits - could provide to fulfill those needs?

In the middle of the Greek monetary (Euro) crisis, people have discovered a way around the system that's been rigged against them. They are setting up local currency and exchange systems and doing business, effectively, without government money. The breathless story can be found at Raw Story and it is well worth reading and thinking about. But, for me, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union celebrates 25th Anniversary in New York City November 3rd
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Co-Soap Hopes Its Unique Business Model Will Spark Economic Growth and Justice.
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report from Credit Union National Association
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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/.

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.
The real economy is people.
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The Evergreen cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio was the story everyone wanted to hear at the opening session on Saturday Aug. 7, 2010 of the U.S. Federation for Worker Cooperatives conference in Berkeley. 

David Roach is doing incredibly important work in Oakland with Mo' Better Food, schools, intergenerational learning, farmer's markets, and other things.  He was our incredible improvisational tour guide of Oakland.

By Yvon Poirier
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