The latest news on community wealth building initiatives!
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Dear Colleague,

Welcome to our September 2015 newsletter:
  • Gar Alperovitz, co-founder of The Democracy Collaborative and co-chair of the Next System Project, analyzed the failures of capitalism in the 260 year-old British Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce’s most recent issue of the RSA Journal. Gar notes growing skepticism of “the ability of free-market democracies to deliver widely shared increases in prosperity” and proposes a community-sustaining system defined by a culture of cooperation and democratic ownership.
  • Gus Speth, co-chair of the Next System Project and senior fellow, was recently interviewed as a feature in the “Change Agent” series of the Great Transition Initiative, where he discussed his own environmental background and the goals of the Project. Last month, Next System Project Executive Director Joe Guinan joined Social Capital Markets’ (SOCAP) Co-founder & Convener Kevin Jones and sociology Professor Juliet Schor to facilitate a twitter chat about the need for systemic change. You can read highlights from the conversation here
  • Democracy Collaborative staff continue to promote community wealth building in the field. Steve Dubb contributed to Shelterforce magazine’s Rooflines blog on the subject of converting businesses to employee ownership, and I recently had the opportunity to talk with Equitable Opportunity radio hosts Mike Hancox and Vernice Miller Travis about the role anchor institutions and worker cooperatives play in building a more inclusive economy. You can listen to a free podcast of the radio interview on iTunes.
  • In August, responses to Peter Barnes’ “common wealth trusts” proposal by Thomas Hanna, director of research, and Marjorie Kelly, executive vice president and senior fellow, were featured by the Great Transition Initiative. Marjorie highlighted the importance of property rights and suggested that a “multiplicity of ownership designs” should be considered. Thomas focused on the real world examples of public trust funds and suggested alternative ways that common wealth trusts could be used to further ecological sustainability as well as social and economic equality.  
  • Over the past two years, The Democracy Collaborative has dialogued with the Toronto-based Atkinson Foundation as it helped develop a community wealth building strategy for Canada’s largest city. We are pleased to share two reports from the foundation’s new research series, The Prosperous Province: Strategies for Community Wealth, released shortly after representatives from Toronto visited Cleveland to study the Greater University Circle Initiative. The "Anchor Institutions" and "Community Benefits Agreements" reports highlight opportunities to leverage the province’s institutional purchasing power to support various community wealth building strategies. 
  • While nationally recognized as a model for worker-ownership, Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives are also creating wealth and building assets in other innovative ways. Its highly innovative home-buyer program for employees was recently featured in Yes! Magazineand Green City Growers was profiled in Crain’s Cleveland Business for its rapid growth. 
As always, we continue to add new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol *NEW* to find the most recent additions.

Ted Howard
President & Co-Founder, The Democracy Collaborative

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In this Newsletter:

New from the Democracy Collaborative

Recommended Reads

Featured Websites

On Our Blog:

Mapping the Collaborative and Democratic Economy-Cooperatively

Employee Ownership: A Solution that Preserves Retiring Owners’ Businesses

Communities Building Their Own Economies


New from The Democracy Collaborative

C-W City: Rochester, NY

The thirty-sixth in our continuing series of Community Wealth Cities is Rochester, New York. Although Rochester ranks the fifth poorest city in the country, it has a rich culture of organizing for economic and social inclusion. Elected in 2014, Mayor Lovely Warren has made building wealth in low-moderate income neighborhoods a major focus of her administration. The Democracy Collaborative is currently working with the City to assess the feasibility of developing employee-owned businesses, linked to anchor institution procurement, as a tool to address poverty, create jobs, and build wealth in low-income communities. Find Out More»

Recommended Reads

Concentrated Poverty on the Rise Since 2000

Since 2000, the number of people living in high poverty neighborhoods has nearly doubled, with people of color disproportionately affected. This new issue brief from the Century Foundation documents the growing trend of concentrated poverty and argues that this re-concentration is not an accident, rather a result of exclusionary zoning practices and new suburban development that fails to include affordable housing. To reduce spatial inequality, the author calls on governments at all levels to end these policies and “work to change the development paradigm that creates high-poverty neighborhoods.” Read More»


Tools to Measure the “Cooperative Difference” 

In May 2014, the Measuring the Co-operative Difference Research Network and the Centre of Excellence in Accounting and Reporting for Co-operatives hosted an international conference on tools to measure cooperative impact. Building upon discussions initiated at the conference, the two organizations have released a new book, Cooperatives for Sustainable Communities, which delves into themes of statistics and data collection; co-operative principals in practice; community impact; member and stakeholder engagement; and reporting practices. The authors suggest opportunities for cooperatives to build their cooperative identity and advocate for a transition to values-based evaluation tools rather than traditional profitability measures. Read More»

Designing a Participatory, Just, & Sustainable Energy Future

This new report from the Local Clean Energy Alliance and the Center for Social Inclusion lays out a vision for a democratized energy future that shifts the ownership of energy systems from corporations to communities. The authors propose a decentralized renewable energy platform, guided by principles of healthy communities, family-sustaining livelihoods, workforce development, and six other justice and sustainability values. The report outlines governance, finance, labor, and investment strategies to support this transition and provides a compendium of model policies and programs. Read More»

Employee Ownership Saves Tax Payers Millions

This report from the National Center for Employee Ownership reveals that between 2002 and 2010, employees without an ownership stake in their companies were almost four times more likely to lose their jobs than employees who owned a of portion of their company. The numerical value of this advantage saved tax payers and the federal government $37 million over eight years. As a wealth building strategy, employee ownership not only reduces insecurity during a recession, but can also reduce forgone taxes and demands on public coffers for unemployment benefits. Read More»

Featured Websites

Boston Impact


The Boston Impact Initiative (BII), formed in 2013, provides equity investments, lending, direct public offerings, and grants to support initiatives and locally-owned business that foster environmental, economic, social, and racial justice. Last year, BII provided more than $700,000 to 11 local businesses and organizations, including a micro-finance program for entrepreneurs of color. BII is also a co-sponsor of the Solidarity Economy Initiative, an incubator for community-based organizations exploring cooperative economic development. Find Out More»

Coalition of Communities of Color

The Coalition of Communities of Color (CCC), an alliance of community- based organizations in Oregon, works to promote racial justice and improve outcomes for communities of color. In order to build the capacity of communities of color, CCC provides policy analysis and conducts advocacy for education and community economic development. It also conducts racial disparities research and offers a leadership development program, which has graduated over 100 leaders of color since its founding 2001. The CCC is a co-founder of the Center to Advance Racial Equity at Portland State University. Find Out More»

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