Grassroots Economic Survival

Subscribe to Grassroots Economic Survival feed
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.
Updated: 2 hours 43 min ago

2019 ACE Institute Call for Proposals

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 15:54
Link: 2019 ACE Institute

The annual ACE Institute is the only annual conference in North America dedicated solely to the promotion of cooperative education and to the training of all cooperators (educators, leaders, developers, learners, etc.). It is a unique learning and professional development opportunity for cooperators from all cooperative sectors and across national boundaries. Call for proposals:The Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE) is interested in receiving proposals for its 2019 Annual Institute, which will be organized in collaboration with the Canadian Association for Studies in Cooperation (CASC) and the International Cooperative Alliance Committee on Cooperative Research. Although this Institute will be organized in collaboration with two other groups, we want to make sure that we include workshops that are relevant to our membership and following.The theme of this year is: Cooperative Entrepreneurship: Theories and Best Practices. The event will take place at the University of Sherbrooke – Longueuil Campus (minutes away from downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada) from May 27 to 31, 2019. – Click here to see the call for proposals in English – Click here to see the call for proposals in Spanish – Click here to see the call for proposals in French


Read the rest at ACE


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

A Story of Many Nations

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 16:40
Link: A Story of Many Nations

In the late 90s, Joe Carter, Director of Education for Onion Lake First Nation, recognized First Nations had similar financial services needs to their non-Indigenous counterparts, but those needs weren’t being met in the same way. He saw an opportunity and went to work.


Many Nations Financial started as a small not-for-profit organization in 1995, and over time it has grown from representing just Onion Lake First Nation to providing services to over 150 communities across the country. Carter’s ultimate goal, however, was for it to be a co-operative. In 2009 the business re-organized its structure to fulfill this dream.

“I think that part of his dream or his vision was … traditionally First Nations operated very co-operatively,” Davison said. “They shared everything they had.”

Establishing Many Nations as a nation-wide co-operative was a long process, but eventually it became the first national Indigenous co-operative in Canada. Because its mandate is to provide services primarily to Indigenous organizations, and only Indigenous organizations became co-op members, Many Nations had to apply for a human rights exemption. This defining factor was key for the organization to “promote Indigenous business in as full a way as we possibly could,” said Davison.

Read the rest at Co-operatives First


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Neighborhood Parliaments in India

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 16:10
Link: Heaven On Earth. Neighborhood Parliaments in India

Neighborhood parliaments in India. The two solutions to powerlessness and selfishness are: smallification and neighborhoodization.

Watch more videos from Sociocracy for All


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Laura Flanders Show Seeks Video Producer

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 15:53


Responsibilities include: 

Post-Production/Graphic Design:

  • Edit episodes on deadline, working closely with Senior Video Producer and answering to Supervising Producer and Executive Producer.
  • Ensure timely export and delivery of program to broadcasters/distributors.
  • Work with team to design and create graphic elements that illustrate big concepts and convey complex information for maximum impact.
  • Execute weekly design tasks to ensure consistent show branding.
  • Collaborate actively with Engagement/Communications Director to create social media content.

Field/Studio production:

  • Prepare call sheets.
  • Coordinate graphics and B roll delivery to in-studio crew.  
  • Work with director and freelance crews to shoot field reports with the capacity to operate independently as needed.
  • Inventory equipment before and after shoots.

Read the rest and apply at The Laura Flanders Show


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Tribal councils to lead technical services co-op

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 17:13
Link: Tribal councils to lead technical services co-op

This spring marked the launch of a technical services co-operative led by four of the province’s most prominent tribal councils, with the help of Saskatoon-based organization Co-operatives First.

The Saskatchewan First Nations Technical Services Cooperative Ltd., which provides engineering, water treatment and housing inspection services to First Nations’ housing programs, launched in March with tribal councils and individual First Nations as the shareholders.

“They’ve basically helped us (with) their knowledge, their expertise, their subject matter; their experts basically helped amend our bylaws (and) prepare us for our first AGM that we held last week,” said Tim Isnana, SFNTSC’s business manager.


Co-operatives First’s executive director, Audra Krueger, said the organization works with groups with “cool” ideas they want to make a reality. It also works with groups in other western provinces — for example, a group interested in taking over a tree planting business in B.C. called Tree Amigos.

What they do with individual groups is listen rather than talk. The staff has expertise in areas such as incorporation, bylaws and the details of co-op development, “the things that could stop organizations in their tracks,” Krueger said.

“We don’t develop co-ops. We help the groups to develop their co-op. There’s a difference there. We don’t want to come in and develop their co-op; we want to assist them to develop their co-op.”

Read the rest at The Saskatoon Star Phoenix

 Go to the GEO front page
Categories: News

Rural Perspectives Podcast - Cooperative Month

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 17:04
Link: Episode Four - Cooperative Month

October is Cooperative Month in the U.S. Ethan Giebel of Cooperative Network discusses the celebration along with the impact co-ops make in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.


Listen to more episodes of the Rural Perspectives Podcast


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Powering Rural Infrastructure through Co-operatives

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 16:58
Link: Powering Rural Infrastructure through Co-operatives

Previously we’ve talked about the important role co-operatives might play in succession planning for rural businesses as baby boomer business owners begin to retire. The same is true for the preservation of rural infrastructure. Many communities across Canada are experiencing gradual declines and aging populations. As workforces dwindle and young people leave rural lifestyles for the appeal of urban centres, the incentive for businesses and governments to invest in rural areas declines.

Fortunately, Canada’s rural communities are resilient, and there’s a long history of Canadians telling government and big business ‘no thanks, we got this.’ From the early establishment of the grain pool system and co-operative refinery to modern co-op investments in business, housing, people, and infrastructure, rural communities are experts at co-operating to overcome challenges through local solutions.

Read the rest at Co-operatives First  Go to the GEO front page
Categories: News

Farmworkers Are Saying “No More” to Exploitation

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 18:29
Link: Our Food System Is Built on Exploitation. Now Farmworkers Are Saying “No More.”

Benito, a founding member of Familias Unidas and part of its leadership committee, said he now earns about double the pay for the same work—10 to 12 hour days, seven days a week—as a result of union organizing. “Many work rules are changing,” he told In These Times.


Building on the union’s success, Torres and three other members of Familias Unidas launched a farmworker-owned cooperative last year with a vision of creating better working conditions, autonomy, and adequate access to healthy food for farmworkers.

“We have to go ask for [food] stamps. We have to go to food banks. And it’s not just,” Torres said. “A farmworker who picks watermelons in the end can’t buy the watermelon because he doesn’t earn a fair salary to afford it.”


For Torres, Familias Unidas’ worker-owned cooperative, called Tierra y Libertad, is a first step toward tackling farmworker food insecurity at the root. Protecting farmworkers from exposure to toxic pesticides by planting organic crops and keeping children studying instead of toiling in the fields at young ages are also big motivating factors, he said.

Tierra y Libertad already grows four acres of organic strawberries and 20 acres of blueberries on rented fields, and the cooperative is looking to purchase farmland to increase workers’ control over production. According to Torres, the long-term goal is to create a network of cooperatives that foster mutual support among farmworkers and show that worker-owned alternatives are possible.

“Everything we are doing is to help farmworkers,” Torres said. “We’re tired of so much exploitation.”

Read the rest at In These Times


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Co-op Power Hour: Food Co-ops

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 17:39
Link: Co-op Power Hour: Food Co-ops

Today’s show looks at the emerging movement as well as the history of food cooperatives. 

Listen to the show at KGNU


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Call for proposals: Addressing pseudo-cooperative practices

Fri, 10/26/2018 - 16:58
Link: Call for proposals: Good practices on addressing pseudo-cooperative practices in labour intermediation

The Cooperatives Unit of the International Labour Organization is looking for a consultant to prepare a report on good practices in combatting unlawful labour intermediation practices by pseudo-worker cooperatives in different countries and sectors across the globe. For details please see the call for proposal below.

The deadline for submission of application is 5 November 2018.

[full screen]


Go to the GEO front page

file upload: PDF icon call_for_proposals-pseudo-coops.pdf
Categories: News

Dairy cooperatives explore trans-Atlantic partnership

Fri, 10/26/2018 - 16:49
Link: Dairy cooperatives explore partnership

Foremost Farms USA and Arla Foods, a European dairy cooperative, are in advanced discussions about forming a strategic partnership. Representatives recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing the possibility of future partnership.

Henrik Andersen, Arla Foods Ingredients group vice-president, said the two farmer-owned cooperatives share many of the same values, plus their whey-market ambitions are compatible. Arla Foods wants to secure access to whey in the U.S. market, he said.

Read the rest at Agri-View


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

MCDC Celebrates Its First Worker Co-op!

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 16:20
Link: MCDC Celebrates Its First Worker Co-op

The Madison Cooperative Development Coalition (MCDC) recently celebrated the incorporation of its first co-op, Common Good Bookkeeping! The new worker co-op was recognized at a February event at the Madison Labor Temple. MCDC is a collaborative of co-op developers, unions, and community organizations – including UWCC – implementing the City of Madison’s initiative to strengthen the local worker co-op ecosystem. At the event, MCDC also welcomed Dennis Olson of the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative (CUCI) and UFCW International, as well as the local UFCW (1473) that Common Good Bookkeeping Cooperative unionized with. Many people from the Madison co-op and labor communities also joined.

This is just the first of many MCDC events – keep an eye on the UWCC website for events to come. Future events will provide education on worker co-ops, the City of Madison’s Co-op Initiative, and will bring our community together to address Madison’s racial and income inequalities through living wage jobs and democratic workplaces.

If you are a service provider, worker-cooperator, or a community organization, we want to work with you! This initiative provides and funds technical assistance to worker co-ops and can connect them to start-up financing. Learn more on UWCC’s website, or write to

Visit the MCDC website


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Co-operative Argentina

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 16:14
Link: Co-operative Argentina – visits to a hotel, a bank, a theatre, a restaurant and a print shop

Hugo Cabrera enjoys teaching printing skills to young people coming out of prison, because he has been on the wrong side of the law himself.

In 1992, he and fellow workers at the Grafica Campichuelo print works occupied the site, in protest at its closure by the government and in defiance of an expulsion order from the police.

Forty three of the workers, with the active support of their trade union, came together to bid to save their livelihoods by saving the machinery and the business. To end the conflict and perhaps because they thought it would fail, the Government allowed them to reform as a worker cooperative.

Eleven of those founders, with a workforce now of fifty, are still with the business, which holds the contract for printing car registration documents.

Bringing new people in, without sharing the context of that extraordinary start, took time but they were committed to operating in an open way as a cooperative. “To begin with,” explains Hugo “young workers would watch debates at our Assembly like a crowd at a tennis match. To change that, we moved to decision making in smaller circles, giving new people a chance to participate and build their confidence to contribute and to challenge.”

Read the rest at Ed Mayo's Blog


Go to the GEO front page


Categories: News

Notes from 2018 Platform Co-operatives Hong Kong conference

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 16:07
Link: Notes from 2018 Platform Co-operatives conference

The conference showcased some cracking examples of how data sharing and analytics can change communities:

  • PetaJakarta showed how using open source software (Cognicity), they had been able to change the way Indonesia could respond to flood events
  • The Alliance of Foodbanks from Taiwan illustrated how data had radically improved their efficiency in collecting and distributing food across their networks
  • Shanzhai City is developing tools to measure impact of social investing that can be embedded in the funding structures themselves via smart contracts
  • Datavest illustrates a data cooperative approach to helping members realize the value of their data

Notwithstanding these examples, there remains an underlying concern about how data is managed by co-operatives and the potential role of emerging technologies in augmenting this. In particular, there was some deep suspicion around blockchain approaches to solving problems.

Read the rest at The Daily Dip


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

How Puerto Ricans are restoring power to the people

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 18:46
Link: How Puerto Ricans are restoring power to the people

In this second episode of our new radio documentary series The Response, we shine a spotlight on Puerto Rico. When Hurricane Maria slammed into the island about a year ago, it resulted in thousands of deaths and knocked out power for almost an entire year. The result was what many consider to be the worst disaster in the United States.

Further, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria exacerbated the ongoing debt crisis that has been crippling the country's public services for years — a crisis that has forced many communities on the island abandon hope that the government will ever come to their assistance. And so when Hurricane Maria hit, it wasn't a surprise to many of these already-abandoned communities when the official response was often nowhere to be seen.

This conversation has been told before by many mainstream news outlets. What you might not have heard, however, is the story of the grassroots response that arose after Maria. In the midst of all the austerity and hurricane-driven chaos, a quiet revolution has been slowly taking place on the island. What began as an impromptu community kitchen meant to help feed survivors in the town of Caguas has since grown into an island-wide network of mutual aid centers with the ultimate aim of restoring power — both electric and civic — to the people. We'll hear from many of those involved in these centers and find out why they are growing so quickly and what they are doing to begin addressing both the acute and chronic disasters that Puerto Ricans are facing today.

Listen to more episodes of The Response


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Finding A ‘Truth Nugget’ Can Defuse Arguments

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 17:56
Link: Finding A ‘Truth Nugget’ Can Defuse Arguments

We all want to communicate in a direct, clear way. That can become difficult when we’re feeling verbally bullied.

Bullying can come in the form of aggressive questions at a meeting, when sitting around the table at a family gathering, or dealing with a co-worker on the job. These queries or remarks can catch us off-guard and make us feel defensive. Too often we lash out at the bully, or we withdraw. Either response is likely to feel upsetting.

What if you could remove the power from that aggressive person, deflect their argumentative remarks, and avoid a verbal confrontation?

Read the rest at ROC USA  Go to the GEO front page
Categories: News

In Europe, food delivery coops are fighting back against the gig economy

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 18:34
Link: In Europe, food delivery coops are fighting back against the gig economy

On 25 and 26 October 2018, digital platform food delivery workers from all over Europe will come together for the first time in Brussels, Belgium. Unlike the usual luxury conferences held in the European capital, attendees will have to crowdfund their own tickets. But that won’t stop the 100 or so couriers from meeting up to share their “methods of struggle and define a common strategy for better working conditions” in a bid to combat the “unacceptable” labour practices of online food delivery platforms such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Foodora.

The deliberate misclassification of these platform workers as ‘self-employed’ denies them fundamental workers’ rights, particularly in relation to a minimum wage, working time regulations, collective bargaining rights, insurance and health and safety protections (the latter two points are particularly crucial to food delivery workers who spend most of their working day on motorcycles or bikes). As a result, there have recently been a wave of protests in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain condemning the exploitative nature of this work.

But as well as protesting, deliver workers have also been organising, with a number of bike courier cooperatives recently being established by couriers who once worked for these digital juggernauts. Ex-platform workers in Belgium, France and Spain are turning to democratic business models as a reaction to the precarity of the ‘gig economy’, and in a bid to shape decent work for themselves.

Read the rest at Equal Times


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

How Equal Exchange Faced Down An Ethical Dilemma

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 18:33
Link: How A Fair-Trade Company Faced Down An Ethical Dilemma

[I]n 2000, the [Equal Exchange] founders faced a major dilemma when an outside investor offered to pump $250,000 into the company. In exchange the investor wanted a guaranteed seat on the board and the creation of a special class of stock specifically for the investor that would pay out a 10% guaranteed cumulative annual dividend...

The consensus among the board members and company leadership was that Equal Exchange would be giving up too much. The cumulative dividend, they worried, would have been a difficult promise to make for a business whose wares were largely agricultural commodities with fluctuating prices. Not to mention that creating a higher class of owner didn’t jibe with the organization’s ethos of equal ownership. “We did not want to do anything that would relinquish worker control,”

Read the rest at Forbes


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Are the Digital Commons condemned to become “Capital Commons”?

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 17:04
Link: Are the Digital Commons condemned to become “Capital Commons”?

Last week, Katherine Maher, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, published a rather surprising article on the Wired site entitled: “Facebook and Google must do more to support Wikipedia”. The starting point of her reasoning was to point out that Wikipedia content is increasingly being used by digital giants, such as Facebook or Google:


For a project like Wikipedia, things would probably be different if firms like Google or Facebook answered the call launched by Katherine Maher. The Wikipedia community has strict rules in place regarding paid contributions, which means that you would probably never see 90% of the content produced by employees. Company contributions would likely be in the form of cash payments to the Wikimedia Foundation. However, economic dependence would be no less strong; until now, Wikipedia has ensured its independence basically by relying on individual donations to cover the costs associated with maintaining the project’s infrastructure. This economic dependence would no doubt quickly become a political dependence – which, by the way, the Wikimedia Foundation has already been criticised for, regarding a large number of personalities with direct or indirect links with Google included on its board, to the point of generating strong tensions with the community. The Mozilla Foundation, behind the Firefox browser, has sometimes received similar criticism. Their dependence on Google funding may have attracted rather virulent reproach and doubts about some of its strategic choices.

In the end, this question of the digital Commons’ state of economic dependence is relatively widespread. There are, in reality, very few free projects having reached a significant scale that have not become more or less “Capital Commons”. This progressive satellite-isation is likely to be further exacerbated by the fact that free software communities have placed themselves in a fragile situation by coordinating with infrastructures that can easily be captured by Capital. This is precisely what just happened with Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub. Some may have welcomed the fact that this acquisition reflected a real evolution of Microsoft’s strategy towards Open Source, even that it could be a sign that “free software has won”, as we sometimes hear.

But, we can seriously doubt it. Although free software has acquired an infrastructural dimension today – to the point that even a landmark player in proprietary software like Microsoft can no longer ignore it – the developer communities still lack the means of their independence, whether individually (developers employed by large companies are in the majority) or collectively (a lot of free software depends on centralized platforms like GitHub for development). Paradoxically, Microsoft has taken seriously Platform Cooperativism’s watchwords, which emphasize the importance of becoming the owner of the means of production in the digital environment in order to be able to create real alternatives. Over time, Microsoft has become one of the main users of GitHub for developing its own code; logically, it bought the platform to become its master. Meanwhile – and this is something of a grating irony – Trebor Scholz – one of the initiators, along with Nathan Schneider, of the Platform Cooperativism movement – has accepted one million dollars in funding from Google to develop his projects. This amounts to immediately making oneself dependent on one of the main actors of surveillance capitalism, seriously compromising any hope of building real alternatives.

Read the rest at Guerrilla Translation


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

What if there was a prize for food sovereignty?

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 16:09
Link: What if there was a prize for food sovereignty?

On Sunday evening, a group of over 100 food activists, farmers, artists, and community members from across the world gathered in downtown Bellingham, Washington to honor the recipients of this year’s Food Sovereignty Prize.

The awards were were founded in 2009 with the stated mission of celebrating grassroots efforts to promote food sovereignty—defined as a community’s ability to feed itself culturally appropriate cuisine while maintaining control over the means of food production.

But it’s the Food Sovereignty Prize’s anti-imperialist ethos—highlighting women, migrants, people of color, and farmworkers who are historically marginalized in the global food system, and often in awards ceremonies honoring efforts to change it—that stands in sharp contrast with a far better known, lucrative, and contentious accolade: the World Food Prize.

Read the rest at The New Food Economy


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News