Dear Colleague,

At The Democracy Collaborative, we believe that community wealth building is more than just inclusive economic development—it offers a blueprint for how we can win the fight for an economy that’s equitable, not extractive. This idea is at the heart of a new book being released tomorrow, authored by myself and Executive Vice President Marjorie Kelly. Entitled The Making of a Democratic Economy, the book brings together stories from community wealth building initiatives that are shifting how our economy functions and broadening local ownership and control. In her Foreword, author and activist Naomi Klein writes, “The more we build the democratic economy today, the better prepared we are to grab the wheel of history and swerve toward the next system. This book arrives just in time.”

You can read more in Prospect Magazine and a manifesto about the democratic economy in Change This. We also invite anyone who is interested to attend book launch events in New York, Boston, and other cities in the coming weeks.
 
One element of building a more democratic economy is expanding democratic public ownership. Three recent reports begin to lay the groundwork for what this institutional architecture might look like: Research Director Thomas Hanna and Andrew Cumbers recently contributed a response paper to the UK Labour Party’s public consultation on the subject that articulates the principles of democratic public ownership. Read more below. Common Wealth, a new think tank in the United Kingdom founded by TDC fellow Mat Lawrence, recently released a paper on Public-Common Partnerships, presenting an exciting new model of multi-stakeholder institutions. And We Own It!, a UK-based public ownership advocacy group, published a “model for public ownership in the 21st century.” Taken together, these three reports offer important new insights and suggestions on how we can develop institutions that advance a more democratic economy.  
 
Last month we also released a book co-published with the Transnational Institute (TNI), the New Economics Foundation (NEF), the Tellus Institute, Change Finance, Focus on the Global South, Fairfin, and the MOBA Housing Network entitled Public Finance for the Future We Want. The book includes two chapters penned by Research Director Thomas M. Hanna and Co-Manager of Climate & Energy Programs Carla Santos Skandier discussing the role of anchor institutions in community wealth building and the potential for a public buyout of fossil fuel companies, respectively. Read more in a blog post authored by Research Intern Alicia Barry.
 
We continue to see a growing interest in the work underway in Preston, England, which was inspired in part by the development of the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio. As a recent case study 
from CLES and the Preston City Council notes, “in eight years, Preston has shown that a different model of economic development is possible.” The New York Times recently profiled the work underway, detailing how “Preston has exploited austerity as a catalyst for self-sufficiency.” BBC’s The World This Weekend aired a segment that features these developments. As other localities look to Preston as a model, one exciting development is the creation of the Beyond Here Fellowship program, operated by Stir to Action, which will equip local leaders to further research and deepen this approach. We encourage our colleagues and readers in the UK to learn more here.

Sincerely,
Ted Howard
President and Co-Founder,
The Democracy Collaborative

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TDC & CWB in the News

  • Co-Manager of Climate & Energy Programs Johanna Bozuwa contributed a paper to the Institute for Public Policy Research’s Progressive Review on the Green New Deal. Johanna’s recent report on community wealth building and green infrastructure was also highlighted in an article in Shareable.
  • Director of Healthcare Engagement David Zuckerman was quoted in SFGate on the link between economic development and health outcomes, calling on health systems to think about how to leverage their business practices to reinvest in communities experiencing health disparities. 
  • The Democracy Collaborative’s recent Right to Own policy proposal was featured in an article in New Republic. Policy Associate Peter Gowan, author of the proposal, notes how this strategy would benefit workers, stating: “The workers should get a chance to come up with ideas for how they could keep their jobs, and give them the right to take over that plant if it’s being sold or closed.”
  • In the latest comparative case study from Fifty by Fifty, Senior Editorial Associate Sarah Stranahan contrasts the development of two publishing companies with different ownership structures. Where financial ownership prioritizes short term profit over long-term success at Jossey-Bass, employee ownership and commitment to mission has enabled Berrett-Koehler to survive as one of only a few independent publishers.
  • There is growing interest in building out the technical assistance infrastructure to accelerate and support employee ownership. The Fifty by Fifty blog recently published articles on initiatives to scale employee ownership at the state level in Pennsylvania. And Director of Communications John Duda was quoted in an article in Shareable on a growing number of accelerators and incubators to support worker owned cooperatives.
  • Research Director Thomas Hanna was quoted in an article in Truthout on the growth of interest in public baking, noting that after the financial crisis ten years ago “people started realizing that their money, their local tax dollars were being used to invest in destroying their communities and destroying the planet…public banking is a way to move toward a more equitable and sustainable economic system.”

New from The Democracy Collaborative

Making the Democratic Economy

Authored by Ted Howard, co-founder and president of The Democracy Collaborative, and Marjorie Kelly, Executive Vice President, author of The Divine Right of Capital and Owning our FutureThe Making of a Democratic Economy is a clarion call for a movement ready to get serious about transforming our economic system. Illuminating the principles of a democratic economy through the stories of on-the-ground community wealth builders and their unlikely accomplices in the halls of institutional power, this book is a must read for everyone concerned with how we win the fight for an economy that’s equitable, not extractive

Order Copies Here

Constructing the Democratic Public Enterprise

Written as a response to the UK Labour Party's consultation on democratic public ownership, this white paper from Research Director Thomas Hanna and Andrew Cumbers, professor of regional political economy at the University of Glasgow, articulates principles of democratic ownership for the 21st century. Whereas in the past many public enterprises have been top-down, managerial, and unaccountable—as are many private enterprises—Hanna and Cumbers put forward values and principles that can ensure public enterprise advances a more democratic and just society. The paper includes a proposed governance structure where workers, community, government, and broader stakeholders actively participate in the decision-making of that enterprise. 

Read More

Jobs in CWB

Featured Video & Audio

Nationalize This!
Research Director Thomas Hanna was recently interviewed about public ownership in the banking and finance sector on the new podcast Nationalize This!, which focuses on public ownership, democratic control, and the successes and failures of nationalization projects.

Economic Update: Worker Co-Ops Rising
Director of Communications John Duda joins in conversation with Richard Wolff about the growing momentum around worker cooperatives and the democratic economy

Recommended Reads

Case study on the Preston Model


This new case study from the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and the Preston City Council documents the development of community wealth building in Preston through their eight-year collaboration. The report includes a timeline of events and impact data, as well as reflections on lessons learned and ideas about next steps. Read more here

New Framework for Public-Common Partnerships

In the UK over the past few decades, Public Private Partnerships emerged as a strategy to reduce costs for public goods, but in reality, they have driven high costs for residents with little accountability. This new report from Common Wealth offers an alternative institutional design that would maximize participation and shift the purpose of enterprise from generating profit to maximizing social good. The paper proposes a new ownership design, Public-Common Partnerships (PCPs), which would allow for multi-stakeholder participation as well as a mechanism to catalyze new enterprises. Read the full report here

Featured Website

WEAll Citizens

A project of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, WEAll Citizen is an online portal designed to connect organizations and individuals working to advance a more just and equitable economic system. The interactive platform includes an interactive map and search tool as well as a discussion forum. Learn more here.

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