Dear Colleague,

I am pleased to report that last week we celebrated the expansion of Evergreen Cooperative Laundry (ECL), one of the worker-owned enterprises that is part of the Evergreen Cooperatives. ECL will be taking over the management of the Cleveland Clinic’s laundry facility, more than tripling its workforce (who are on an expedited track to becoming 
worker owners) and increasing access to wealth building opportunities for Cleveland residents. Read more about the expansion below and in Next City.  
As the Evergreen Cooperatives grow, it is also exciting to see the Cleveland Model inspire action in other communities: We are delighted to welcome Matthew Brown—one of the pioneering voices advancing the Preston Model in England—to The Democracy Collaborative as a Senior Fellow for the Promotion of Community Wealth Building in the United Kingdom. Initially inspired by Cleveland’s community wealth building model, Matthew and the Preston City Council have been able to advance strategies that drive economic growth while keeping wealth rooted locally. Matthew recently became
leader of the Council, demonstrating the power of this vision for inclusive revitalization that connects public, community, and cooperative enterprises. As a Senior Fellow, Matthew will be sharing lessons learned with city councils, anchors, philanthropy, and other advocates across the UK and here in the United States. 
Continuing the theme of 
expansion, in South Dakota, Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, a participant in The Democracy Collaborative’s Learning/Action Lab, has launched Thikáǧa Construction Company, the second social enterprise in their network of businesses to build community wealth. Thikáǧa, which means “building homes” in Lakota, will work to address a housing shortage on the Pine Ridge reservation while providing jobs for local residents. Read more here.
All of these efforts reflect The Democracy Collaborative’s commitment to 
develop community-based models where equity and sustainability are outcomes of economic development, not afterthoughts. This applies to system changing ideas as well. For instance, in a recent Next System Project blog post, Research Associate Johanna Bozuwa highlights the opportunity for a federally-funded job guarantee to support climate resiliency. Read more about Johanna’s analysis in In These Times.

Ted Howard
President and Co-Founder,
The Democracy Collaborative


Community Wealth Building in the News

  • The Annie E Casey Foundation’s blog recently featured the Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative, a joint collaboration between The Democracy Collaborative and the Coalition for Urban and Metropolitan Universities working to advance anchor mission strategies within higher education.
  • The Huffington Post recently published an article that highlights the Next System Project’s work around systemic solutions to address climate change, specifically Quantitative Easing for the Planet. The article quotes Research Director Thomas Hanna regarding the opportunity for a federal buy-out of publicly traded fossil fuel companies.
  • Nonprofit Quarterly published an article about the development of the Community Justice Land Trust in Philadelphia, noting how land trusts can provide access to permanently affordable housing. A recently launched partnership between Citi Community Development and the Grounded Solutions Network will make $500,000 available to local groups to support community land trust development. Read more in the The Wall Street Journal.
  • A recent article in Next City discusses growing efforts to catalyze public banking, featuring efforts in San Francisco, Santa Fe, and New Jersey, as well as a recent Senate bill around banking through the U.S. Postal Service. Recently, American Samoa won the race to form the nation’s second public bank (after the Bank of North Dakota). Read more in the American Banker.
  • In New Mexico, a rural electric co-op, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, has been expanding access to high-speed broadband. Read more about the co-op in High Country News.

New from The Democracy Collaborative

Evergreen Cooperative Laundry Expansion

On May 10, Evergreen Cooperative Laundry (ECL) announced a major expansion in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic, one of the member health systems of our Healthcare Anchor Network. ECL will take over management of the Clinic’s laundry facility, bringing over 100 new workers into the cooperative, joining the 50 employed at the original laundry. This model of expansion demonstrates a new pathway for anchors to support worker ownership through their supply chain. Read the full press release here.

New CW City: Birmingham, AL

The forty-fifth in our C-W City series is Birmingham, Alabama. With the city experiencing a 29 percent poverty rate, well above the state average of 17 percent, a number of community wealth building organizations have emerged with many focusing on the intersection of food and economic justice. REV Birmingham, a public-private economic development organization, offers business development workshops and technical assistance to local entrepreneurs, with a focus on healthy and sustainable food businesses. The Magic City Agriculture Project (MCAP) helps communities organize local democratic institutions and cooperative businesses. Find out more here.

Featured Audio & Video

Towards the Inclusive Workers’ Movement of the Future
This episode of the Next System Podcast features Dorian Warren, President of the Center for Community Change Action and the Vice President of the Center for Community Change.
Video Feature: “Hanky Panky” and Employee Ownership
This recent video from Moneyish features the lingerie company Hanky Panky and the decision of its owners to transfer ownership of the company to its workers through an ESOP.

Recommended Reads

The New Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

In 1967, the Poor People’s Campaign was launched as a multiracial coalition demanding government action to address poverty and racism in the United States. This new report from the Institute for Policy Studies provides an audit of the last 50 years, examining the trends and conditions that drive poverty. It finds that systemic racism, economic exploitation, militarism, and ecological devastation continue to deepen inequality. The report accompanies the launch of the New Poor People’s Campaign to build power to create systemic change. Find out more here.


Opportunities for Democratic Public Ownership

Noting that a majority of British residents support public ownership of the railways and key utilities, this new paper from the Co-Operative Party calls for modern forms of democratic public ownership. The authors outline how democratic public ownership can lead to productivity gains and protection from government underinvestment in critical infrastructure. The paper outlines what ownership could look like across rail, water, and energy, making actionable recommendations in each sector. Read the full paper here.

Featured Website

Operated by Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s public economic development agency, Co-Operative Development Scotland provides assistance to companies looking to transition to employee ownership, offering free advising to interested businesses, as well as feasibility studies and succession planning. The CDS blog highlights stories of business that have transferred ownership to their employees. Find out more here.


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