Dear Colleague,

In recent months, I’ve been excited to see The Democracy Collaborative increasingly become a hub for the transatlantic exchange of bold proposals and ideas around building a democratic economy. We recently hosted numerous colleagues from the UK and Europe, including architects of the UK Labour Party’s inclusive ownership fund proposal
which would give workers an ownership stake in their companieswho recently briefed the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Writing for The Nation, Robert Borosage, a senior policy advisor to The Democracy Collaborative, reflects on this growing alignment between the Labour Party and progressives in the US, noting the shift towards system changing policy proposals. 

The Democracy Collaborative also co-hosted an international panel conversation in Washington, DC on the topic of public ownership and the remunicipalization of services and assets. Watch the livestream of the event here. A recent Huffington Post article highlights Research Director Thomas Hanna’s work in this area and reports on the growing interest in public ownership in the US, highlighting developments like support for postal banking from Democratic presidential contenders. Public banking is also being explored in the UK. The Democracy Collaborative recently commissioned a report with the Communications Workers Union that develops the Labour Party’s proposal for a public banking system, which would involve postal retail banking as well as a national investment bank to complement regional development banks. Read the full proposal here and commentary from Christine Berry in The Independent

The Next System Project recently released a new policy proposal that highlights another opportunity for systemic change. Authored by Policy Associate Peter Gowan, the proposal suggests a “Right to Own” plan where workers can buy their own workplaces at a fair price when they are being sold. A similar plan can be found in the Labour Party’s platform, and new polling indicates that this policy would also be popular in the US (with 69 percent of respondents in support of right to own). Read more about the proposal and polling below and in Jacobin

Another expanding area of our work focuses on the Green New Deal, and ways to link climate resiliency initiatives with broad-based ownership and community wealth building strategies. The Democracy Collaborative recently released a report on this intersection, exploring how investments in green infrastructure can be an opportunity to expand community and democratic ownership. Read more below and register for an April 29 webinar on the topic here

Lastly, Director of European Programs Sarah McKinley recently authored an article for the New Statesman on the Green New Deal, writing that “to confront climate change, we can’t leave it all up to politicians. We need civil society, business, local government, finance and academia to mobilise and collaborate.” This type of local coalition building is currently being explored by the UK-based Local Trust through the launch of their Community Wealth Fund. The Chief Executive of the fund recently joined other local economy advocates on a visit Cleveland to learn more about the Evergreen model, and I look forward to visiting them later this month. Read more about the exchange on their blog

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

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TDC & CWB in the News

  • Research Director Thomas Hanna recently published an article on the role of public ownership in countering corporate domination in the Journal of World-Systems Research. Thomas was also interviewed by the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere.
  • The City of Baltimore recently announced funding for a pilot program to support the development of a worker cooperative conversion pipeline. Read more from the Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy (BRED). 
  • Senior Research Associate Carla Santos Skandier published an article in Common Dreams on the failure of market-based approaches to solve climate change, calling attention to the ways the fossil fuel industry currently benefits from market-distorting subsidies and incentives. 
  • Communications Director John Duda published an article in Truthout discussing the revelation that Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, and other popular eateries are owned by a transnational holding company with ties to Nazi forced labor. The article focuses on the connection between ownership and capital, and puts forward alternative models like worker ownership. 
  • Laura Flanders, a close collaborator of The Democracy Collaborative, recently received an Izzy Award “for outstanding achievement in independent media.” Congratulations to the Laura Flanders Show team and many thanks for their reporting on the growing democratic economy. 

New from The Democracy Collaborative

Building Resiliency through Green Infrastructure

As part of their climate resiliency planning, cities are increasingly focusing on ways to divert stormwater before it reaches the sewer system. This new report, authored by Research Associate Johanna Bozuwa, explores the potential for these green infrastructure investments and initiatives to also build community wealth by creating living wage jobs while expanding ownership and control for local residents. The report investigates worker cooperatives and social enterprises in the green infrastructure field, profiling four case studies across the US. The report includes recommendations for practitioners, local governments, and anchor institutions.

Register for an April 29th webinar about the report findings here

Read More

Policy Proposal: The Right to Own

Authored by Policy Associate Peter Gowan, this new proposal from the Next System Project outlines a framework for a “Right to Own” which would enable workers to purchase facilities and companies that are being closed or sold. The proposal synthesizes relevant policy models and precedents such as Washington, D.C.’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) and existing employee ownership legislation. Along with the release of this proposal, we are also revealing the results of a poll commissioned by The Democracy Collaborative. The poll found overwhelming support for a policy that would give workers the right of first refusal when their workplaces are slated for sale or closure, with 69 percent of respondents in support and only 10 percent opposed.

Read More

Jobs in Community Wealth Building

Featured Videos

Executive Vice President & Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly discusses community wealth building, and how strategies like employee ownership can shift us towards a more inclusive and sustainable economy. 

This video highlights a partnership between Healthcare Anchor Network member Fairview HealthEast and the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) in St. Paul, Minnesota to provide access to healthy food while building community wealth.

Recommended Reads

National impact of gentrification and displacement

This new study from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) assesses gentrification and displacement between 2000 and 2017. Researchers found that more than 135,000 residents have been displaced due to rising property values, and that seven cities accounted for nearly half of the gentrification experienced nationally. The report includes in-depth profiles of some of these rapidly gentrifying cities, including Philadelphia, Portland, Richmond, and Washington, DC. The report echoes some of the findings in our own 2018 study, Community Control of Land and Housing, in its recommendations for revitalization without displacement through strategies like limited equity co-ops, community land trusts, and tenant right of first refusal policies.  

Portrait of economic insecurity in the United States

Since 2000, the population living at or below 200 percent of poverty has grown more than twice as fast as the nation’s population overall. This new report from PolicyLink and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California (PERE) provides a deeper look into this data surrounding economic insecurity, analyzing trends over time and who is most affected. The data show that while people of color make up 38 percent of the total US population, they comprise more than half of the economically insecure. The report calls for policies that address systemic barriers to economic advancement, recommending strategies that raise wages, such as removing barriers to employment and expanding workplace protections, as well as strategies that expand access to wealth building opportunities. 

Featured Website

Racial Equity Here

Launched by the Government Alliance for Race and Equity (GARE), Racial Equity Here is a network of community organizations, local governments, foundations, schools, and businesses that have committed to taking action to advance racial equity and dismantle structural racism. The website includes a signable pledge, a searchable map of the 600 commitments to date, and resources such as slide decks to help facilitate learning on how to integrate racial equity into daily operations. Learn more here

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