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GEO's Mission: To help build a nation- and worldwide movement for a cooperative social economy based on democratic and responsible production, conscientious consumption, and use of capital to further social and economic justice.
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Workers' co-ops in Canada gaining power, voice and stability

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 19:08
Link: Workers' co-ops in Canada gaining power, voice and stability

For the past year few months, I have been following the story of Glitter Bean Café in Halifax. Baristas have helped build a unionized co-operative, with SEIU Local 2 as the union. The Glitter Bean is a café, a safe space for LGBTQ youth in Halifax, and a part of the baristas working to improve their lives and those of others.  

Their struggle started in 2013 when baristas working for Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op, one of Canada's first fair trade workers' co-operatives, started their fight for unionization. In 2017, Just Us! then sold its Halifax locations to another company called Smiling Goat, which was found to have not paid employees and suppliers. After Smiling Goat moved to shut down all six of its cafés, the former Smiling Goat baristas worked with allies and the union to start Glitter Bean. Their campaign is an illustrative story about working with both unions and the co-op model to stand for your values, improve your workplace, save your job and have a voice at work.

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Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives Report

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 17:30

Members gathered together for our annual meeting on June 27. Members created strategic goals for the year that leverages our assets and programming to achieve our goals and act on opportunities...

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How could we cope if capitalism failed?

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 17:26
Link: How could we cope if capitalism failed? Ask 26 Greek factory workers

You could call the men and women at Viome factory workers, but that wouldn’t be the half of it. Try instead: some of the bravest people I’ve ever met. Or: organisers of one of the most startling social experiments in contemporary Europe. And: a daily lesson from Greece to Brexit Britain, both in how we work and how we do politics.

At the height of the Greek crash in 2011, staff at Viome clocked in to confront an existential quandary. The owners of their parent company had gone bust and abandoned the site, in the second city of Thessaloniki. From here, the script practically wrote itself: their plant, which manufactured chemicals for the construction industry, would be shut. There would be immediate layoffs, and dozens of families would be plunged into poverty. And seeing as Greece was in the midst of the greatest economic depression ever seen in the EU, the workers’ chances of getting another job were close to nil.

So they decided to occupy their own plant. Not only that, they turned it upside down. I spent a couple of days there a few weeks back, while reporting for Vice News Tonight on HBO, and it now looks like just an ordinary factory. Behind the facade, it has become the political equivalent of a Tardis: the more you look inside, the bigger the implications get.

Read the rest at The Guardian


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Increasing Labor Strife at Seward Co-op

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 16:22
Link: Amid Increasing Labor Strife Workday Minnesota has Learned that Seward Community Co-op Uses Information Obtained...

Documents obtained by Workday Minnesota and verified by multiple anonymous sources, who are knowledgeable and engaged in hiring practices and decisions, allege that Eastside Food Co-op and Seward Community Co-op collude to preemptively deny employment to workers. When targeted workers, deemed ineligible by Eastside, apply to Seward they are denied an interview. In a rarer case a manager prepared an offer package that was denied by human resources thereby obstructing the managers ability to hire the worker.

Anonymous sources submitted and verified evidence showing that Seward’s ApplicantPro online portal identified ineligible workers with the note, “Eastside coop does not recommend we hire this person.” This designation furthermore means that the applicant is deemed ineligible to be hired at Seward.

The scope and depth of the designation is unclear but has afflicted numerous current and former Eastside employees applying to Seward. It is unclear if Seward provides the same information to Eastside.

Eastside Co-op General Manager John Lacaria said “no” when asked whether he was aware that Seward had the note “Eastside coop does not recommend we hire this person” in their ApplicantPro system. Lacaria also clarified that when called for a reference they only offer information related to confirmation of and length of employment and pay. It is therefore unclear who at Eastside is giving broader information to Seward. Seward did not respond to multiple attempts for comment.

Read the rest at Workday Minnesota


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Co-op Movement Confronts Its Complicated Relationship with Racial Equity

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 15:39
Link: Co-op Movement Confronts Its Complicated Relationship with Racial Equity

The Association of Black Economic Power

The Village Trust project originated out of a community group called Blexit—a play on Brexit and referring to the need for “Black exit” or economic self-determination. Connelly helped found the group, which aims to cultivate the practice of economic civil resistance. As the group’s website explains, “The Black economy contributes 1.1 trillion dollars to the American economy, not to mention the revenue we generate as victims of racist and predatory practices across public and private sectors. The time has come to shift our dollars in ways that benefit and protect us all.”

The credit union fits into this larger economic self-determination effort. As Connelly explains, “We have communities that are underserved and also taken advantage of by at the most predatory businesses in our state… My dollars should be used to uplift my people. Not destroy them.”


Consultants, Connelly notes, had informed her group that “we can’t have a credit union of have-nots.” But by the end of 2017, $1 million had been raised and “we had proved the consultants wrong,” Connelly says. Animating the group is not only the desire for economic self-sufficiency, but also the knowledge that the city’s Rondo community once had a Black credit union, until the building of a freeway destroyed the city’s Black business district in a classic instance of urban renewal.

While the organization of the credit union has been going well, Connelly notes that there are still many possible obstacles ahead, including the need for final federal regulator approval before opening. Using the acronym SCIP, Connelly says that white co-op allies can back co-ops in communities of color by supportingcelebratinginsulating, and protecting them.

Read the rest at Nonprofit Quarterly


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Standing Rock Medic Bus Is Now a Traveling Decolonized Pharmacy

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 15:51
Link: Standing Rock Medic Bus Is Now a Traveling Decolonized Pharmacy

There was something familiar and comforting about the bus. A crowd of people painted green vines and flowers on the exterior as it sat parked in a field near Frank’s Landing during the Indigenous Environmental Network’s annual Protecting Mother Earth Conference, held earlier this month.

This bus was indeed an old friend. It has a lot of history helping indigenous people; it served as a kitchen and then a treatment center for the Medic + Healer Council at the Standing Rock water protector camps. Now it’s been transformed into a bus for the Canoe Journey Herbalists, who are currently accompanying the approximately two-week-long annual Native American traditional canoe gathering along the Pacific coast of Washington and Canada. The journey is expected to culminate in a final stop in Puyallup, Washington, on July 28. Over 100 canoes from more than 70 tribes registered to participate this year.

Midwife Rhonda Grantham of the Cowlitz tribe is one of the herbalists accompanying the journey.

Although Grantham and other healers with the Canoe Journey Herbalists are prepared to tend to the sore muscles and throats as well as sunburned and mosquito-bitten skin of canoe pullers, their mission is far greater.

Read the rest at YES! Magazine


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Co-ops "do local better than anyone"

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 15:40
Link: By promoting their communities—not just products—co-ops "do local better than anyone"

Along the retail supply chain, there's nothing more "local" than a food co-op. The food chain moves from farm to co-op to table—and the shopping habits of a growing number of Americans underscore this trend.

A recent survey of consumers who value a healthy and sustainable lifestyle found that nearly seven out of ten grocery shoppers seek out local or regional products when they shop. Local food slightly outpolled shoppers who searched for organic foods on store shelves. “One of the bigger surprises of this study,” researchers found, “might be their focus on local and regional products.”

According to another study last month, six in ten shoppers deem locally sourced meat, produce and dairy products as important, while less than five in ten prefer organics, when given a choice. 

Read the rest at NCBA


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Basque Local Currency Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 15:11

This year is the Eusko's fifth birthday. This solidarity and ecology-focused local currency is used in Lapurdi, Lower Navarre and Zuberoa (the northern Basque Country, which is under French administration). It is strongly supported by both citizens and institutions, and the aim is to continue enlarging the network which uses it. To celebrate the fifth anniversary, a "great family-style party" has been organised for 4th March.

Dante Edme-Sanjurjo, the chairperson of the association which manages the currency, says that there are certainly things to celebrate. Over the last five years the currency has been used more and more, and a bright future lies ahead. He says that the key to this success has been the connections which have been built around this shared project: "It's connections between people in different sectors which give the project its strength." Amongst other things, the 3,000 people who use the Eusko in their daily lives. "They are people who are working for a more Basque-speaking, more ecological and more solidarity-focused Basque Country", in Edme-Sanjurjo's words.

Read the rest at ARGIA


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This co-op lets patients monetize their own health data

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 17:53
Link: This co-op lets patients monetize their own health data

Savvy, which Horonjeff and Sharpe have jokingly termed “the for patient insights” operates around a simple premise. Medical practitioners looking for insights about or from a specific community of patients come to Savvy with their request. The Savvy team then reaches out to its network to find patients who can inform the practitioners need. They can do this through a variety of formats–answering patient surveys, performing user testing, participating in focus groups, or sitting down for one-on-one interviews.

“Traditionally, the way the industry works is that if a researcher wants to know what a breast cancer patient needs, they don’t look to the patient–they ask doctors,” Horonjeff says...Savvy mobilizes pre-existing networks to improve practitioner-patient interactions.

But Savvy also tackles another imbalance in the patient-practitioner relationship. Whenever a patient is seen by a doctor, or enters their information into a medical app or platform, they’re providing the health community an invaluable resource: their data. But they’re not getting compensated for it. To ensure that patients participating in Savvy get something in return, Horonjeff and Sharpe set their platform up as a cooperative, owned collectively by the patients that contribute to it. Any patient who wants to become a Savvy member pays a buy-in fee of $34, which establishes them as a member of the co-op (the fee is waived for patients who cannot afford it, and some other members give more than the base membership fee to subsidize others). “When people become members, they have a voice in what we do, and they also share in our profits,” Horonjeff says.

Read the rest at Fast Company


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Four Rivers Co-op Activates Relief Fund for 2018 Wildfire Evacuees

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 17:45

Wildfires continue to grow and spread across Northern BC, forcing more than 3,000 people under an evacuation ORDER to leave their homes and move to different cities.

Emergency Support Services are available in Burns Lake, Prince George, and Quesnel, and now, Four Rivers Co-op has decided to open its services in this time of crisis.

The organization says it’s opening up its Fire Relief Fund starting today, where anyone can come into a Co-op location, make a donation, and the money will go towards evacuation efforts.

In a statement, Four Rivers Co-op says it’ll match all donations once again.

Read the rest at My Prince George Now


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Inside Mexico’s Anti-Capitalist Marketplaces

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 17:49
Link: Inside Mexico’s Anti-Capitalist Marketplaces

Two corn cakes for a loaf of bread. A liter of oats for an avocado and a bag of beans. An hour with a traditional healer for an hour of plumbing work. Ten mixiuhcas—the market’s currency of choice—for a jar of pickled carrots. Not a single peso in sight.

Vendors and buyers have gathered today in one of the city’s small urban gardens for this month’s Feria Multitrueke, an alternative economy and bartering market. Hipsters pushing organic quelite seeds mix with elders standing over steaming vats of hot chocolate and tamales. Women in aprons dole out tacos while their kids dart between stands. Shirts woven by a Mazahua indigenous women’s cooperative are displayed next to copies of the translated Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg.

The air is alive with voices laughing, bartering and making sales. But these vendors aren’t ordinary vendors, and their buyers aren’t just customers, either. “We are all prosumidores here,” says Joaquina Flores, a member of the mixiuhca network. Prosumidor is a combination of the Spanish words for producer and consumer, highlighting the reciprocal nature of the market. “It’s solidarity,” Flores says. “This is about meeting needs, not generating wealth.”

The mixiuhca is one of many Mexican monedas comunitarias, communal or local currencies fostered since the 1990s, drawing on indigenous bartering practices. “Pesos generate violence, they fund wars, drug and human trafficking, GMO crops, international corporations, inequality,” says one prosumidor. “Community money doesn’t.”

Read the rest at In These Times


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Where Next for #platformcoop?

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 17:16
Link: Where Next for #platformcoop?

In Baltimore, a group of returning citizens — men and women who were formerly incarcerated — faced ridiculously unfair barriers to employment. And so, over the past two years, they formed Core Staffing, a staffing agency with 12 members.

Joseph Cureton, one of Core’s co-founders, is prototyping a platform to help get jobs for as many as 100 members in 2018. I met Joseph in New York, at a 2017 workplace democracy conference. He made the trek from Baltimore, where he hosts the BMore Black Techies meetup (their unofficial mascot is a crow clutching a knife in its beak).

“A platform could help us ramp up operations,” Joseph told me on the phone recently.

“It’s technology doing what it’s supposed to do.”

Core Staffing is a co-op that connects members to jobs. But to Joseph, the usefulness of a co-op structure is an open question. What’s more, by building a platform and securing financing at the same time, Core Staffing members are really going out on a limb. Where can they find a supportive community focused on co-operative platforms?

I wrote this article to examine the idea of “platform cooperativism,” where it’s headed, and what it needs in order to use technology for economic justice.

Read the rest at Medium


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Seward Workers Bring Concerns to Administrators

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 18:03
Link: Seward Workers Bring Concerns to Administrators

A group of Seward Community Co-op workers and allies went to the Creamery administrative offices to draw attention to what they allege are inconsistencies in the application of the attendance policy leading to the unfair firing of Calista Adedoye.


Watch more from Workday Minnesota


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Aretha Franklin used her voice to ‘deliver music for social justice’

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 17:17
Link: Aretha Franklin used her voice to ‘deliver music for social justice’

Civil rights veteran Bernard LaFayette said Franklin’s contribution to the movement cannot be overstated. 

“She brought the message through music,” said LaFayette, chairman of the board of the SCLC and head of the Emory University Center for Advancing Nonviolence.

“The unique thing about that period is that music was intergenerational. She appealed to younger and older people. The music played a very important role in unifying people and building the kind of coalition that was needed,” LaFayette said.

He remembers attending a Franklin concert. “People would come regardless of religion or ethnicity or race,” he said. “Her concerts broke barriers because music is the language of the soul. She was very clear and unequivocal in her support of the movement for social change.” 

Read the rest at AJC


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USFWC Celebrates Passing of First National Legislation for Worker Cooperatives

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 20:25

As the national membership organization for worker cooperatives and democratic workplaces, the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives applauds this bipartisan effort to improve small business loans and outreach for employee ownership.

The U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) thanks U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez in the House of Representatives, as well as support of co-sponsors Senator James Risch (R-ID), Chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) for their support of the first employee ownership-focused law in more than twenty years.

“This is an extraordinarily important opportunity for workers and businesses-owners in need of a strong succession strategy. This legislation is a milestone for our work in advancing worker-owned and worker-managed cooperative businesses. We believe that broader awareness of employee ownership will be game-changing for America’s small business community.” said Esteban Kelly, Executive Director of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives.

Read the rest at the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives


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Daily Business Operations Using Free Software

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 20:17
Link: Daily Business Operations Using Free Software

People often ask about the free software tools Agaric uses to manage our cooperative business. In this article, we share some of the free software tools we use for office tasks and administration as well as communications. These are Agaric's chosen resources -- the tools we use today for our daily business operations.

Agaric uses free software whenever possible. We build websites using Drupal, a free software content management system, and we are long time participating members of the Drupal Community. When we cannot use free software, we actively search for and contribute to groups working towards solutions.


You may also wonder why we say "Free Software" and not "Open Source" since the code in both instances is essentially the same. We use the term "Free Software" because it includes the ethical principles about respecting user's freedom. Free software ethics say that users deserve control over the code they use, whereas using the term "Open Source" cites only the goal of letting users participate in the development. We support the ideals of software protecting your rights and not leaving you vulnerable.

Read the rest at the Agaric website


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No Last Call for The Bevy

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 16:52
Link: The estate where local people refused to call last orders

This pub used to be the Bevendean Hotel, until one too many fights forced the police to close it in the spring of 2010. It lay empty for years, leaving around 18,000 people without a local. Brewers sniffed around but couldn’t make the sums work. The area’s reputation for roughness did not help: a local vicar once received a postcard addressed to “The Reverend John Wall, The Vicarage, The Dodgy Bit of Brighton, England”. That this was all the address the sorting office needed tells you something about the suburb’s standing.

In the end, local people raised the funds and opened the Bevy in 2014. With banners reading “More Than A Pub”, it certainly doesn’t look like tourist Brighton’s gastropubs and cocktail palaces. Jones calls it “a back-to-front community centre”.

Read the rest at The Guardian


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Union Group Protests Co-op Project

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 15:57
Link: Area union group protests co-op project

Meadowland Co-op, based in Lamberton, recently started an expansion in Walnut Grove that includes large concrete grain storage bins. They hired SMA Elevator Construction Co. of Monticello, which hired subcontractor Genuine Builders of South Dakota to do much of the concrete work.

The Mankato Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents union construction workers across southwest Minnesota, said Genuine is "A top user of a controversial H2B visa program that allows companies to employ foreign guest workers for construction tasks that are typically performed by locals."

"We're not against the worker program," said Building Trades President Stacey Karels. "But when there are local workers in local communities having a tough time making ends meet, they could be employing some local people to build that facility."

Meadowland Co-op referred questions to SMA.

Dan Jenniges, owner of SMA, said he was unaware of the union's concerns. He said SMA and Genuine Builders are doing nothing illegal.

"Is it against the law? So what's the problem? It sounds like a bunch of complaining," Jenniges said.

Read the rest at The Free Press


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Becoming a Farmer the Community Way

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 17:37
Link: Becoming a Farmer the Community Way

The Yarrow Ecovillage reduces some of the financial barriers to entering farming. The co-housing units are affordable, and rental units are available. Residents at the village have access to the agricultural land for a small fee ($500 a year) and sharing infrastructure, land and equipment reduces the start-up cost for new farmers. Farmers who are already established on the land are also available to share their knowledge of soil conditions and organic pest control.

Miranda Chiasson, another young farmer at the Yarrow Ecovillage, can’t imagine getting started in farming without this kind of support.

“Just to think of leasing two acres in the back of Chilliwack somewhere just being like, ‘well best of luck!’ That sounds impossible,” she says. “I can’t fathom how I would have been able to start my own semi-solo operation without first working for farmers who are here and learning the system and learning the soil.”

Read the rest at The Tyee


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Rural Electric Cooperatives the Obvious Solution for Deploying Fiber to Rural Areas

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 17:29
Link: Rural Electric Cooperatives Pose an Obvious Solution for Deploying Fiber to Rural Areas, Says Former FCC Official

Rural electric cooperatives and not “small cell” deployment powered by 5G networks, may be the solution to closing the digital divide, according to Jonathan Chambers, former chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Strategic Planning.

Speaking at the regional conference hosted last week here by Next Century Cities, a broadband advocacy group for cities, Chambers suggested repurposing rural electric cooperative infrastructure for fiber networks.

“The nation was able to build electricity to every home in rural America. That was the objective starting in the 1930s, and the country was able to do so,” Chambers said. “It’s less expensive to build a fiber network than an electric network.”

Read the rest at


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