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Dear Colleague,

Welcome to our April newsletter. This month’s developments include: 
  • On March 31, we launched the Next System Project, a multi-year initiative designed to catalyze a wide-ranging discussion about the deep systemic challenges – economic, political, and social – we face as individuals, communities, and as a nation. The project is co-chaired by Democracy Collaborative Co-founder Gar Alperovitz and Senior Fellow Gus Speth. More than 350 leading scholars, activists, business people, labor leaders, and policymakers have endorsed the founding statement, including Leo Gerard, Sarita Gupta, Danny Glover, and Ai-jen Poo. View a video in which project supporters discuss the importance of building a new system and read the Next System Project’s initial report. You can read some of the press coverage about the launch in Grist, Huffington Post, YES! Magazine, Shareable, and Truthout.
  • To continue to build momentum around the Next System conversation, we also invite you to join us on May 20 at 3 pm EDT for a free webinar, which will feature Gar and Gus as well as Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink; Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College; and Gerald Torres, professor of law at Cornell University. 
  • Join Democracy Collaborative Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly as she moderates a free webinar, co-hosted by Project Equity, on April 28 at 2 pm EDT. The webinar, which highlights the organization's efforts to build a supportive ecosystem for worker cooperative development in the San Francisco Bay Area, follows the release of their new report, Business Conversions to Worker Cooperatives: Insights and Readiness Factors for owners and employees. Panelists include Rob Brown of the Cooperative Development Institute, Alison Lingane of Project Equity, Andrea Hurd of Mariposa Gardening & Design, and Blake Jones of Namaste Solar. Register here.
  • Interest in community wealth building and transformative economic thinking continues to grow. I led a number of seminars for MBA students at Pinchot University/Bainbridge Graduate Institute as a designated “Change Agent in Residence,” along with India Pierce Lee of The Cleveland Foundation. Democracy Collaborative Co-founder Gar Alperovitz is quoted by New York Times regular contributor Mark Bittman in an op-ed on the need for systemic change and Research Director Steve Dubb and Gar wrote a blog article on the People and Places conference.
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
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative

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In this Newsletter:

New from the Democracy Collaborative

Recommended Reads

Featured Websites

On our Blog:

What If Community Developers Held a Congress and Everyone Showed Up?

Greensboro Community Looks to Food Cooperative to Fill Grocery Gap


New from The Democracy Collaborative

C-W Interview: Emily Kawano

This month, we interview Emily Kawano, co-director of the Wellspring Cooperative Corporation, based in Springfield, Massachusetts. Wellspring aims to use anchor institution purchasing to create a network of worker-owned businesses located in Springfield that will provide job training and entry-level jobs to unemployed and underemployed residents. In 2013, Wellspring launched its first business, an upholstery co-op, in partnership with a local jail, and it is currently developing a multi-acre hydroponic greenhouse. Kawano also serves as the coordinator of the United States Solidarity Economy Network, where she is developing solidarity economy education, using geographic information systems (GIS) software to map the U.S. solidarity economy, and helping to organize the first North American Solidarity Economy Forum. Find Out More»

The Democracy Collaborative Launches New Initiative, The Next System Project

The Next System Project: New Political-Economic Possibilities for the 21st Century is the first in what we anticipate to be a series of reports from the Next System Project, a new initiative of The Democracy Collaborative. Authored by project Co-Chairs Gar Alperovitz and Gus Speth and Next System Project Executive Director Joe Guinan, the report provides an in-depth overview of the goals of the new initiative. While confronting the systemic crises we face may seem daunting, the Next System Project promotes optimism from the “steadily building array of alternative institutions and experiments in communities across the country and around the world, together with an explosion of new ideas and activism, [that] have begun to suggest real possibilities for fundamental change.” Find Out More»

Recommended Reads

Investment in Non-Profit Leadership Yields Long Lasting Social Change

In the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s (NCRP) most recent report, the authors argue that underinvestment in non-profit leadership development, which constitutes less than one percent of yearly grantmaking, acts as a significant barrier for building sustainable capacity to achieve meaningful social change. By supporting leadership development programs, philanthropy can help to catalyze new ideas and innovation, sustain leaders’ momentum, generate a new network of local leaders, and ultimately make long lasting change. The authors outline several recommendations to support grassroots leaders and offer solutions to common challenges in funding leadership development. Read More»


Study Reveals Patterns of Economic Segregation Across U.S. Metro Areas

“It is not just that the economic divide in Amer­ica has grown wider; it’s that the rich and poor effectively occupy different worlds, even when they live in the same cities and metros,” state authors Richard Florida and Charlotte Mellander in this new study from the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto. The authors analyze geographic segregation in all 359 metropolitan regions of the United States by income, education, and class, and find that patterns of segregation vary across geographies. Older Rustbelt metros top the list on income segregation, sprawling Sunbelt metros top the list on educational segregation, and larger, technology-based metros top the list for class-based segregation. Read More»

Communities Foster Equity and Inclusion through Anchor Institution Engagement

In PolicyLink’s newest brief from its Sustainable Communities series, Senior Associate Chris Schildt and Vice President for Research Victor Rubin examine anchor institutions and their role as place-based, socially oriented, economic engines. In this brief, they highlight several opportunities to leverage anchors for economic inclusion, including working with anchors to connect low-income communities and communities of color to jobs in growing innovation sectors; partnering with anchors on workforce training programs targeted at hard-to-employ populations; and participating in land use and transportation planning surrounding anchors. By engaging anchors, communities can foster equity and inclusion goals in regional economic development strategies. Read More»



Community Choice Legislation Promotes Democratic Control of Energy Systems 

Community Choice, a mechanism to aggregate energy consumers to provide a viable market for renewable energy, provides a critical alternative from investor-owned utilities, allowing communities to determine their own energy sources and invest in renewable energy. The Berkeley Climate Action Coalition, the Oakland Climate Action Coalition, and other Bay Area advocacy groups, outline Community Choice’s potential in northern California in their new report, East Bay Community Choice and highlight the opportunity to create more than 24,000 jobs, while reducing emissions. Read More»

Featured Websites

L.A. Kitchen

Started by Robert Egger, who was also the founder of DC Central Kitchen, L.A. Kitchen operates a combination of job training and social enterprise programs that connect the issues of food waste, unemployment, and health by providing food sector jobs and job training for formerly incarcerated adults and young adults aging out of foster care. The social enterprise partners with local farmers and wholesale companies to collect second-tier produce, often discarded because of slight blemishes, and prepares meals for local social service nonprofit organizations. LA Kitchen also operates a culinary job-training program and is planning to open Strong Food, a for-profit subsidiary that will compete for food service contracts and create value-added products for wholesale and retail markets. Find Out More»

The New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives

The New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives (NYC NOWC) makes available educational, financial, and technical resources to existing cooperatives to enhance their work and to support new cooperative development, especially within marginalized communities. Its website includes a directory of over 40 worker cooperatives and information for businesses interested in converting to cooperative ownership. NYC NOWC was part of the coalition that worked to get New York City’s government to allocate $1.2 million toward cooperative development. More recently, the same coalition helped pass legislation that requires the city's economic development arm to track municipal support of worker cooperatives. Find Out More»

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