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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.
Updated: 1 hour 25 min ago

How I Changed My Holiday Traditions to Match My Values

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 19:35
Link: How I Changed My Holiday Traditions to Match My Values

[T]hese days, I’m starting my own traditions, which include observing the African American cultural holiday Kwanzaa. That doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate Christmas; it’s just given me a new approach to doing so.

In 1966, Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa (derived from a Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits”), a weeklong celebration to introduce and reinforce seven values, called Nguzo Saba, of African culture. Karenga is a professor and chair of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach. He said he created Kwanzaa specifically for African Americans, who did not have a day that celebrated their unique history and experience in the United States. While the early years of the holiday was in resistance to racism and White supremacy and rejected Christianity—therefore Christmas outright—the holiday has evolved to embrace all people of African descent no matter their religion.

Read the rest at YES! Magazine


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Categories: News

Canadian co-operatives and mutuals establish $25 million investment fund

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 18:18
Link: Canadian co-operatives and mutuals establish $25 million investment fund

The biggest challenge may be that, as with any democratic process, success depends on widespread participation. But many Chicagoans struggling just to get by have little time or energy for extra projects, especially if they feel alienated and disillusioned by city government. This could be particularly true for underserved low-income people and people of color, who potentially have the most to gain through participatory budgeting, but see the process dominated by wealthier people with more time on their hands.

“When you’re used to things being told to you and demanded of you, and you never have a voice, you can be a little leery,” said Lawson, noting that her neighbors are increasingly interested in participatory budgeting since learning about her murals. “It’s a process, it’s important we keep at it year after year, so it becomes a norm.”

Read the rest at HuffPost


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Can Worker Coops Make the Tech Sector More Equitable?

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 17:58
Link: Can Worker Coops Make the Tech Sector More Equitable?

One place where progressive digital labor models are taking hold is at the frontiers of “crowdwork”: This sector enables people looking for a quick job to ply their trades though an online hiring hall, where people seeking services can “bid” for workers to perform tasks ranging from pet-sitting to email inbox decluttering. But crowd-based service markets are today dominated by corporate micro-work platforms, such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform, and short-term digital job boards like Task Rabbit. These systems tend to exploit their gig workers under an online “piecework” model, so that people who use the platforms to pay the bills often end up earning below minimum wage on sporadic on-call contract work, filtered through a faceless online portal.

Fed up with this heartless model, some tech activists are developing online workplaces that operate as worker-driven communities. Daemo, a pilot program incubated at Stanford University’s Crowd Research Collective, is one such worker-driven crowd-labor platform. Since 2015, Daemo’s developers have been building on MTurk’s interface with a communications system aimed at allowing for more equitable “matching” between work requesters and digital taskers. As a non-hierarchical, nonprofit framework where workers control the operations, Daemo is designed for fairer working conditions, with a minimum wage of $10 an hour, which is a major improvement on MTurk’s precarious labor outsourcing system. MTurk has been embroiled in legal challenges over the paltry wages paid to its half-million-strong global workforce, as well as other controversies over data transparency, labor violations and quality control.

Daemo seems like a springboard to digital-workplace democracy, but even if it incorporates cooperative principles, ensuring workers’ real ownership remains a challenge.

Read the rest at the Nation


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Categories: News

Top 5 Things Every New Co-op Needs

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 18:30
Link: Top 5 Things Every New Co-op Needs

Marty Frost is an icon in the co-op sector. Through decades of business development experience, Frost has helped set up around 300 co-operatives, both in Canada and internationally. His knowledge of the co-operative business model — along with his signature fedora and friendly white beard — is legendary.

We recently had the privilege of working with Frost, and took the opportunity to pick his brain about All Things Co-op.

For groups wanting to make their co-operative venture a success, here’s 5 things Frost says to keep in mind.

Read the rest at Co-operatives First


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Categories: News

Third Union Co-op Symposium Held in Cincinnati

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 18:26
Link: Grassroots Movement Promotes Adoption of “Union-Co-op” Model

Earlier this month in Cincinnati, Ohio, roughly 150 worker co-op and union activists came together for the Third Biennial Union Co-op Symposium. This conference marked a watershed of sorts, as the union co-op idea is increasingly seen by both union and co-op activists as a vehicle for community transformation. At the conference, leaders announced their intent to form a national network organization in the coming year. Participants also explored developing new debt and equity investment vehicles to expand the pace of development nationwide.

Read the rest at Nonprofit Quarterly


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An Introduction to Cooperation and Mutualism

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 19:23
Link: An Introduction to Cooperation and Mutualism

The purpose of this textbook is to introduce the ideas of cooperation and mutualism. Consequently, it is likely to be used in an introductory course on cooperatives and mutuals as opposed to a graduate seminar course. As an economist, it stands to reason that much of my discussion is written through the eyes of economics. After all, a cooperative or mutual will not survive unless it achieves an economic purpose. Another goal I have with the book is to make it accessible, affordable, and easy to update.

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Categories: News

Italy’s Cooperatives: Strength in Numbers

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 16:59
Link: Italy’s Cooperatives: Strength in Numbers

Harvest started in late September and these are the last few days of work in the olive groves of the Contrada Feudotto, the headquarters of the cooperative society La Goccia d’Oro.

“This is a community made up of a thousand olive growers mostly from the territory of Menfi and other towns in the province of Agrigento, and partly from the province of Trapani,” said the general manager of the company, Accursio Alagna.

“Our operating system consists in assisting our members with technical support, information and training on the field throughout all stages of production, so that olive trees are constantly monitored,” he explained.

Read the rest at the Olive Oil Times


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More than 500,000 acres of land in Scotland now under community ownership

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 16:54
Link:  More than 500,000 acres of land in Scotland now under community ownership

Communities in Scotland own more than 500,000 acres of land, according to new statistics released by the Scottish Government.

The first estimate of community owned land in Scotland, the publication presents the area of land in community ownership, the number of land parcels/assets in community ownership and the number of community groups that own land parcels/assets.

It has estimated that 562,230 acres (227,526ha) of land in Scotland is now in community ownership, 2.9% of the total land area of the country. There were 492 land parcels/assets in community ownership owned by 403 community groups.

Read the rest at Scottish Housing News


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Activism Guided by Still-Point Consciousness: Early Adopters Speak Out

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 14:28

Inner Landscapes: Activists' Community-of-practice Part III.

Activist-Practitioners Share Practice Experiences

By Pamela Boyce Simms

“If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”* Will activists stop digging before interlocking global crises cascade to the point where the planet is unlivable? Can we let go of our 17th century understanding of the world long enough  to recognize that cutting edge science has finally caught up with the ancient sages, and apply the combined wisdom in time to throttle up and out of the nose dive we’re in? The Inner Landscapes Activists’ Community-of-Practice invites early adopters to stop digging, let go of outworn causal assumptions, and live into non-duality.

Ancient contemplative traditions, quantum mechanics, neuroscience and digital physics offer the tools we need to take the evolutionary next-step in consciousness in service to a planet in travail. Will the numbers of people willing and able to apply the tools reach the critical mass, the tipping point prior to climactic cataclysm? Activist-practitioners offer their thoughts:

Rob Brown: "Our practices (within the community of practice) are showing me that potential for “a way out” of unresourceful experience can be right there in that very experience, especially when we connect that experience to broader, more resourceful experiences.

I’m beginning to more deeply question what it means to act in the first place. We limit ourselves when our definitions of action don’t include deeper reflection and conscious connection with the basis of our being.

Making an analogy to political thought: If people can only be exploited because of the power we already exercise (there’s something to exploit in the first place), then similarly we can only experience pain/ fear/ trauma because of the consciousness we already are. But just as you can’t denounce the exercise of power in order to end exploitation, you have to expand your consciousness in order to fruitfully move beyond unresourceful experiences.

The old reductionist mindsets are the ones that gave us the lies that we’re at “the end of history”, that “there is no alternative” to how things are. To really get beyond that, we can’t adopt the same methods/ worldviews and expect different outcomes." Read more. Rob Brown, is a Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO) Editorial Collective Member.


Renee Descartes' mistaken declaration in 1637, "I think, therefore I am," powerfully aligned Western thought with the material, form-identified intellect and ego for the centuries that would follow. However we are fundamentally NOT the ego which is just an amalgam of meticulously maintained, habitual thoughts ruled by fear. Descartes didn’t delve deep enough. We are the awareness — the vast consciousness which is one with the field of universal intelligence behind the "avatar*-ego."

Yet most of 21st century activism and the socio-political analysis that underlies it is pervaded and driven by the sacred cow of 17th century rationalism. The radical polarization which is shredding our society epitomizes the dualistic thinking hatched in the Enlightenment Era yesteryear.

The gnat buzzing around the oligarchs’ ear impact of current socio-political activism is a function of movement builders’ clinging to an antiquated understanding of how evolutionary change occurs and how events and people relate ─i.e. unidirectional causality. All the while pervasive Cartesian rationalism bolstered by Newtonian physics has long been eclipsed by the double blind proven reality models of quantum mechanics and digital physics. The latter finally resonate with the findings of Siddhartha Gautama and Nagarjuna some 2,500 years ago, and the Vedas even earlier.

This past summer i spoke about movement-building at a retreat of progressive leftist academics and their students, all of whom were devotees of a specific school of intellectual thought. Prior to the panel on which i was to speak i listened to participant lamentations about how their well-crafted, intellectually sound organizing strategies consistently resulted in dissipation of effort, lack of meaningful penetration, burn out, or the crushing of movement initiatives. There was much consternation and gnashing of teeth over the inability to make significant inroads into increasingly abhorrent societal conditions.

Later in the program i suggested stilling the mind and steering away from habitual reductionist, analytic thought to clear a path for truly evolutionary activism. Why not hone the ability to listen deeply in order to gain emergent perspective on movement-building from a field of intelligence infinitely more vast than anything the human mind could ever muster? If, as the group had repeatedly stated, they had applied all of the tools in the wheelhouse of their school of thought to no avail, they might consider another approach. That would have required loosening their grip on their philosophical "hotline to absolute truth" and the egoic constructs that supported it.

Let it suffice to say that i struck a nerve in the core identity of the academics. Careers, lifetimes invested in idolizing the intellect renders the idea of stilling and silencing analytic thought, alien, and threatening. Professorial trajectories, tenure, publishing, and legacy were all rolled up into the fact that the message was too far outside of cherished belief systems to compute. 

Bumping into walls in a maze of brittle intellectual analysis, unconscious of being unconscious is often preferable to fear of unknown interior spaces! Such a mind-prison makes for movement-building that is stunted by unconscious self-imposed limitations.

Grace Gershuny: "The Inner Landscapes Community of Practice message to the progressive left is that we need to change ‘divisive, us vs. them’ patterns of thought and the idea that our way of thinking is the ‘correct thinking.’ This is what holds back the left. Yet it’s hard for people to grasp the idea of non-duality, ‘all is one,’ because it seems anti-intellectual.

The community of practice message resonates with my own Buddhist practice which has been helpful professionally as it speaks to how we relate to the world — how we overcome our sense of inadequacy, not being good enough, being flawed, or not being listened to.

We need to work on our own inner understanding in order to experience these shifts of consciousness. As activists we need to understand that we don’t reach a point where we have ‘arrived’ and go out to righteously tell people how they should think. This has been the elitist arrogance of movements on the left." —Grace Gershuny, also known as the, Read more. The Organic Revolutionary is a widely know author, educator and organic consultant.

How, in these times of intertwined mega-crises can we step out of the drama and thrall of the existing condition long enough to foster evolutionary rather than bandaid-on-bullet-wound social change? Striking at the root causes of societal suffering requires excavating the root cause of our own personal suffering. They are one and the same at different scales.

That means venturing into what may be uncharted internal territory. It means taking a hard look at the amalgam of habitual thoughts that comprise the form-identified ego, the deified intellect and the unidirectional, separation-thinking that has sent the Earth careening toward climactic disaster. The chips are down now. Given the existential nature of societal challenges it behooves us to pick up the torch and get on with internal exploration on behalf of ourselves, society, and the planet.

We think approximately 70,000 thoughts per day. When we live unexamined lives, these thoughts ride roughshod over us and align us with the limited ego. Traumas large and small imprint on brain circuitry and left unchallenged, surface incessantly to derail our relationships and best laid plans.Self-awareness constricted by our internal baggage and limiting belief systems translates directly into bllunted or short-lived impact of the activism in which we engage. 

Ajowa Ifateyo"I first became aware of the power of Pamela Boyce Simms’ work in 2016 at a Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO) retreat where we were dealing with issues of race and class in our diverse volunteer group. GEO members agreed that we needed to look at ourselves before we critiqued the work and action in the worker cooperative/solidarity economy movement.

Pamela had each us recall an instance of an early experience with race and class. That in itself was a very personal and powerful moment when we told those painful stories. We went through a series of exercises involving those instances and talked about them and re-visioned them. We each talked about our incident and how to re-wire that experience from a place of power and connection with the Universe. I remember how much that resonated with me. And I was excited at the power and potential of others in the movement looking at our “personal” experiences (in the 1960s we learned that the personal is political) and how they may affect and impact our responses to similar incidents.

As a result of that retreat experience which I cherish, when Pamela made the Community of Practice work available to GEO, I jumped at the chance, despite being so “busy.” I know how important it is. I’ve found this work even more powerful as we learn to retrain our brain and/or our automatic responses. Pamela is so passionate, and confident that when she explains our connection with the power of the Universe, I instantly get charged up because the information resonates profoundly with me and with my experiences as well as because of the potential for the movement benefiting.

I believe that we are activists because of profound personal experiences — whether our own or someone else’s — hating injustice that we saw or experienced, having our dreams thwarted, or we see discrimination or hate. We want to change the world because we “feel” intensely how critical it is. We want to be our best because doing so will help us and others. This inner work allows us to take our positive experiences and use it to transmute our negatives, which makes us more powerful and confident beings. And more able to give to the movement in a profound way.

I think that this Community of Practice work has tremendous personal organizing power for anyone who suffers from internalized racism or from oppression in general. Through the work, we become aware of our unconscious responses to oppression and how that may affect us in other situations. I wish that every black person, in particular, could do this work. We have so much baggage from centuries of racist oppression. I wish that every woman, and anyone who has internalized the lies about ourselves, because we get an alternative way of handling our pain. Read More—Ajowa Ifateyo, is a Cooperatives Activist and Co-Editor, with the Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO) Editorial Collective.

Most of us don't realized that the avatar mind-brain is a tool. Its job is to calibrate our larger consciousness to a constrained reality-frame which is subject to localized laws of physics so that it can navigate therein. We lose sight of the fact that the evolution of the consciousness that animiates the avatar is the name of the game.  Instead, like Descartes, we deify the mind-brain and indulge its incessant fear-driven discursive thought. We thereby inadvertently cause ourselves and others a great deal of unnecessary suffering. The suffering stems from the way our minds have been conditioned to involuntarily focus on form, materiality, and separation. This to the exclusion of awareness of ourselves predominantly as consciousness.

The ego, itself the creation of fears, mistakenly sees itself as separate from others and its environment despite the reality of universal interconnectedness. Western philosophy and political-economy aid and abet this inaccuracy. The dissonance between interrelational reality and the West's hammering home hyper-individuality, competition, and polarization generates suffering.

We can choose to idolize the intellect with its limited frame of reference. Or we can: 1) be silent long enough to observe and master the architecture and functioning of our mind-brain  —its circuitry, our thoughts, intellect, fears and ego. We can: 2) intentionally train and master the mind in order to serve our own growth, our activism, and the evolution of our society. We can: 3) choose to intentionally let go of  materialist, unidirectional presuppositions about causality and learn how to experience interconnectedness.

Rob Brown has the last word on how the community of cooperative, and solidarity activists and in particular, the Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO) Editorial Collective within it, can function more holistically by exploring internal landscapes.

Rob Brown: "In the workers’ association I’m a part of, we’ve been doing more collective self-reflection on where we are, what we’ve achieved, where we would like to go, how we see ourselves as part of the broader community outside of the workplace. We’ve been moving toward centering relationship/ community building among ourselves in the work we do. By putting this first, we’re gradually building capacity, though building capacity isn’t necessarily the point. That’s something that I think can apply to GEO the more I think about it: in seeking sustainable funds, trying to get more original content, what will ultimately be key is to understand the community we’re already a part of, and then to expand and deepen that community.

If GEO can successfully take up this kind of practice as a collective, I don’t think practice would be a tool for, say, sharpened analysis, but rather practice puts us in touch with the kind of consciousness from which more holistic analysis, material that connects with people and movements, etc emerges from in the first place."

*Denis Healey's First Law of Holes.

*Avatar Ths physical body, a temporary vehicle for non-localized individuated consciousness which is subject to the rules-set of phyics in its localized reality-frame.

Inner Landscapes: Activists' Community-of-Practice (CoP) Information:

Also see: Activists Take the Mystery Out of Mystical for Movement-Building, Inner Landscapes: Activists' Community-of-practice Part I and, The Thing About Resistance: Inner Landscapes Activists' Community-of-practice Part II.


Institutions & Structures: Support OrganizationsPractices, Tools & Strategies: Networking & CollaborationEconomic Sectors: Organizational Support & Development
Categories: News

Build and Fight: The Program and Strategy of Cooperation Jackson

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 18:48
Link: Build and Fight: The Program and Strategy of Cooperation Jackson

An excerpt from the recently published book  Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi, a chronicle of one of the most dynamic but under-documented experiments in radical social transformation taking place in the United States.


End Pursuits

The fundamental program and strategy of Cooperation Jackson is intended to accomplish four fundamental ends: 1) to place the ownership and control over the primary means of production directly in the hands of the Black working class of Jackson, 2) to build and advance the development of the ecologically regenerative forces of production in Jackson, Mississippi, 3) to democratically transform the political economy of the city of Jackson, the state of Mississippi, and the southeastern region, and 4) to advance the aims and objectives of the Jackson-Kush Plan, which are to attain self-determination for people of African descent and the radical, democratic transformation of the state of Mississippi (which we see as a prelude to the radical decolonization and transformation of the United States itself).

Controlling the Means of Production

We define the means of production as the physical, non-human inputs that enable humans to transform the natural world to provide sustenance for themselves. The inputs in question are arable land, access to water,  natural resources  (wood, metals, minerals, etc.), and the tools and facilities that enable the cultivation of food and the transformation of raw materials into consumable goods and services, and the production or capturing of energy to power the tools and facilities. We also add control over processes of material exchange and energy transfer to our definition to give it greater clarity and force of meaning in line with our commitment to sustainability and environmental justice. The processes we feel are therefore necessary to control are the processes of distribution, consumption, and recycling and/or reuse. Without assuming some responsibility for these processes, we merely perpetuate the dynamics of externalization, particularly the production of pollution and the stimulation of waste from overproduction that are inherent in the capitalist mode of production.

A population or people that does not have access to and control over these means and processes cannot be said to possess or exercise self-determination. The Black working class majority in Jackson does not have control or unquestionable ownership over any of these means or processes. Our mission is to aid the Black working class in Jackson, and the working class overall, attain them.

Read the rest at High Broadcast


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Categories: News

Everyone Welcome? Examining Race and Food Co-ops

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 18:36
Link: Everyone Welcome? Examining Race and Food Co-ops

Cooperatives are an international movement, yet as we looked around the U.S. food co-op sector, most of the people we saw were white. We asked ourselves a simple and powerful question:  Why?

We decided that this was something we wanted to investigate. Why are food co-ops—which are guided by cooperative values such as equity and equality—so white? It’s a question that has been a long time coming. Many of our new wave food cooperatives have reached 40-year anniversaries. In business for more than a generation, why don’t these co-ops reflect greater diversity on their boards or within their membership?

We wondered: Is it because some of them are in racially segregated population areas? Is it because food co-ops aren’t valued by certain groups of people? Is it because of the products sold? Or is it because there is something preventing the participation of everyone who might benefit from food co-ops?

As a writing team of women, white and black, who are deeply influenced by both history and contemporary storytelling, we believed the answers to our questions could come from people who had experienced food co-ops at different points in time. We wanted to inquire of our elders and contemporaries, people of different racial backgrounds, who have made contributions to our movement.

Read the rest at Co-op Grocer Network


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Desjardins not scratching pipeline loans after all

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 18:34
Link: Canada's Desjardins not scratching pipeline loans after all

Canada’s Desjardins, the largest association of credit unions in North America, has decided to lift a moratorium on loans for energy and pipeline projects, noting that it will weigh its clients’ environmental, social and governance practices in all future lending decisions.

The Quebec-based financial institution, a backer of Kinder Morgan’s expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline, had been evaluating its pipeline-related policy for months. In July, it put such loans temporarily on hold, threatening the financing of high-profiles projects, including TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL and Energy East and Enbridge’s Line 3.

Currently, the Canadian lender is one of 24 financial institutions that is backing a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Canada (TSX:KML), majority owned by US-based Kinder Morgan.

Read the rest at


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Our Democracy: Is There Any Cake Left?

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 15:26

This piece involves a bit of an epiphany about myself. You know, like when you are surprised into seeing yourself a bit more as you really are. Some background is necessary to lead into how this unfolded.

Since Trump’s election I have become a democracy-freak. Writing a book about it in fact.  And that is taking me on a new journey within myself and across our political spectrum. Here is the opening of my draft Introduction:

Donald Trump is as American as is our democracy. As is our “identity politics” as well, right and left. All are rooted in our culture. Deeply so. The question before us about our democracy is clear: allow it to diminish, muddle along, or grow it powerfully. This book embraces our third option with Whitmanesque enthusiasm and proposes a way to begin working on it.

There are two ways we can think of democracy: simply as a way of governing that belongs in the same category as monarchy, socialism, etc.; or, as both a way of living well and a way of governing. When looking at it as a way of living we are considering a process for people connecting with each other and sustaining those connections. In the least, finding ways to get along and finding ways to work out problems together; at the best, finding ways to come together with some passion for something they share and care about deeply. As such it needs to be cherished and nourished. Our Trumpean situation with all of its polarization from both left and right is a result of our having failed to do that.

Reading two different takes on the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, argued last week before the Supreme Court, brought the tension between “as a way of life” and “as a way of governing” into sharp focus in a surprising way for me.

Like many of you, I could rift endlessly on how the Far Right is a mean polarizing force. But what’s the point. I would be preaching to the choir. Much better for us and for getting some insight into the demise of our democracy, if we look at how we contribute to it. Two recent pundit columns in the NY Times looked at the current case involving the Lakewood, Colorado baker who specializes in wedding cakes being sued by the gay couple because he would not make a wedding cake because, for him, homosexuality is a grave moral wrong.

Ria Tabacco Mar, a staff lawyer with the A.C.L.U. who represented the gay couple all the way to the Supreme Court, wrote a piece, The Colorado Cake Case Is as Easy as Pie, that from my viewpoint decimated the baker’s legal case, argument by argument. For example:

Mr. Phillips is free to express his dissent from Colorado’s equal-service rule, as he has done. He has communicated his views about marriage for same-sex couples far and wide, appearing on national television and in the pages of this newspaper. That’s exactly what the First Amendment protects. But when he opens a business that holds itself out as open to the public, he can’t use those beliefs to discriminate in violation of state law.

In his column How Not to Advance Gay Marriage David Brooks, a fervent supporter of gay rights and the use of the courts in such cases as Brown v. Board of Education, came to the same event from a very different perspective, one that reflected the “as a way of life” dimension of our democracy:

Craig and Mullins were understandably upset. As Mullins told Liptak, “We were mortified and just felt degraded.” Nobody likes to be refused service just because of who they essentially are. In a just society people are not discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

At this point, Craig and Mullins had two possible courses of action, the neighborly and the legal.

The neighborly course would have been to use this situation as a community-building moment. That means understanding the concrete circumstance they were in…The legal course, by contrast… is inherently adversarial. It takes what could be a conversation and turns it into a confrontation.

Brooks goes on in his column to lay out the polarizing disadvantages for the gay movement of taking this case to the legal mat: it is inherently adversarial, dehumanizing, using the state to coerce an outcome, and elitist. It was this last point that perked up my ears. How did he  get to “elitist:”

It takes a situation that could be addressed concretely on the ground and throws it up, as this one now has been, to the Supreme Court, where it will be decided by a group of Harvard and Yale law grads.

And this was what really impacted me:

If you want to know why we have such a polarized, angry and bitter society, one reason is we take every disagreement that could be addressed in conversation and community and we turn it into a lawsuit. We take every morally supple situation and we hand it over to the legal priesthood, which by necessity is a system of technocratic rationalism, strained slippery-slope analogies and implied coercion.  

It left this Grassroots Economic Organizing editor wondering about how deep his “grassroots” convictions really are. And how blurry his vision for seeing democracy as a way of living may be. Quite outflanked by a strongly conservative writer. So much for stereotyping. J

And there is one more important matter this bit of epiphany brought home to me. I recently read and reviewed a novel—The Therapy Journal—that gives a pretty sharp picture of how trauma becomes a pervasive thing in our lives while being very hidden. It has made me aware of how big a role trauma of all kinds play in our daily lives, particularly in how they shrink possibilities in the face of some kind of conflict.

Brooks speculates that Craig and Mullins had “two possible courses of action.” I can see how that could make sense objectively. But did they subjectively? One of them told a reporter, “We were mortified and just felt degraded.” If that was their personal experience, then how open could they actually be to understanding Phillips, the baker, and what he was struggling with? And then my new awareness of trauma led me into wondering how big of a role did past trauma come into play in the wedding cake conflict.

Further, I know of blacks, women, and gays who don’t tend to feel mortified or degraded when they encounter prejudice. Or at least they don’t just feel bad about it, and are often able to see more positive options along the lines Brooks suggests. If some victims of abuse have moved beyond their victimization to some significant degree, and in doing so have empowered themselves to manage—not repress—incidents of prejudice in the moment, what made that possible?

That seems something well worth exploring and understanding, personally and collectively, for the quality of our individual lives, the cohesion of our movements, and our democracy.   

Practices, Tools & Strategies: Democratic Dialog & DeliberationStrategies for ChangeRegions: United StatesRegular Contributors: Michael JohnsonMovements & Struggles: Feminism & Gender JusticePeace BuildingQueer & Trans LiberationRacial Justice
Categories: News

Credit Union Sues Donald Trump to Save the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 19:18
Link: Credit Union Sues Donald Trump to Save the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

December 5, 2017 – This afternoon, the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (ECBA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union against Donald Trump and Michael Mulvaney. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan.

The lawsuit challenges President Trump’s recent, illegal takeover of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in which he installed his at-will White House employee, Michael Mulvaney, to be Acting Director of the CFPB. The CFPB protects millions of Americans from unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices in the financial marketplace. Mr. Mulvaney has called the CFPB a “sad, sick joke.”

“We support the CFPB as a protector of our low income members’ financial rights, and fear that the appointment of an Acting Director beholden to the White House could result in upheaval and ultimate dissolution of this critical agency,” said Linda Levy, CEO of the Credit Union. “Having experienced the devastation that the 2008 mortgage crisis wreaked on our low income members, we need the CFPB to protect communities targeted by financial predators.”

“This is a naked, illegal power grab by Donald Trump to destroy an agency that helps and protects millions of ordinary Americans,” said Ilann M. Maazel, a partner at ECBA, and lead counsel for the Credit Union. “The law requires Leandra English to be CFPB’s Acting Director.”

“President Trump’s attempt to install a White House official as the acting head of what is supposed to be an independent agency is deeply disturbing and should concern everyone,” said Debra Greenberger, a partner at ECBA, and counsel for the Credit Union.

The Credit Union is a not-for-profit, federally-regulated financial cooperative owned by its approximately 8,500 members and dedicated to providing high-quality financial services and community development investments in low income, immigrant and other underserved communities.

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Imagining a Great Lakes Commons Currency

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 17:27
Link: Imagining a Great Lakes Commons Currency

When calculating the likelihood of the current economic system protecting our bond with clean, accessible, and life-giving water, the situation seems impossible.

There is no money to be made protecting water as the source of life. Financing Great Lakes care today comes through either altruistic charity or legislated compensation. Water restoration costs are a fractional expense for a pollution-based economic system. Advocating for a friendlier version of the current system denies its core impulses and interests. Let’s be honest -- degrading the living earth makes obscene amounts of money and defines our current story about “progress”.

How can our collective and radical imaginations connect our desire for connecting money’s value with our values?

Read the rest at Great Lakes Commons


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Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 17:03
Link: Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model For The Internet Era

Cooperatives should be the foundation for bringing high-speed Internet service to rural America. Internet service from satellite, dial-up, and DSL is too slow and unreliable for modern applications. Small towns and farming communities need high-speed Internet service to support their local economies, educate themselves, and generally improve their quality of life. Cooperatives have quietly proved that they can build Fiber-to-the-Home networks that  are capable of speeds of more than 1 Gigabit per second (1,000 Mbps). As of December 2016 according to FCC data, 87 cooperatives offer residential gigabit service.  

Small Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are also making investments in their rural communities, but large ISPs, such as AT&T and CenturyLink, have overlooked rural areas. This is where cooperatives can solve the problem.  

This brief explores the impact that rural cooperatives have already made on Internet access. It concludes with action steps and policy recommendations for universal access to high-quality Internet service in America.

Read the rest at Community Networks


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A Silent Transformation - A Film About Co-operatives

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 16:54
Link: A Silent Transformation - Trailer - A Film About Co-operatives

The trailer to a feature-length documentary currently in development. A film exploring the transformative possibilities of the cooperative model of business.

A Silent Transformation - Trailer - A Film About Co-operatives from Powerline Films on Vimeo.


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Recap: Platform Coop 2017

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 16:29
Link: Recap: Platform Coop 2017

Now in it’s 3rd year, Platform Coop 2017 brought together [1] a diverse group of technologist, entrepreneurs and cooperative veterans to challenge the status quo around platforms.


The current mode of economic organisation isn’t working. A world in which stakeholders are shareholders is possible. Platform coops are one of many alternatives to the domination of capital, helping to build a slightly fairer world within the shell of the old.

Read the rest at Medium


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