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Dear Colleague,

Welcome to our June newsletter. This month’s developments include: 
  • Our Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building, developed with the support of the Northwest Area Foundation, gathered May 28-29 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The Learning/Action Lab brings together five Native American organizations from Minnesota, South Dakota, Oregon, and Washington to develop strategies for their communities that foster ownership of enterprise, increase access to local assets, and create and anchor jobs locally. Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, one of our hosts on Pine Ridge, and a participant in the Lab, recently released a short documentary film showcasing their work to create jobs and build wealth through the development of a “regenerative community,” which combines ecological sustainability and traditional Lakota values with affordable housing and job training. 
  • On May 20, we hosted the National Launch webinar for the Next System Project, moderated by Laura Flanders of GRITtv. We would like to thank Laura and our panelists for the rich dialogue, our co-sponsors for their support, and the Institute for Policy Studies for hosting the event. Read more about the discussion below. We feature webinar panelists Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink, and Juliet Schor, professor of Sociology at Boston College, in two new videos from the Next System Project. Angela connects the proliferation of police violence to systemic racism and Juliet discusses the imperative to “find a new path that allows us to solve both climate change and economic deprivation.” 
  • The Next System Project continues to receive broad press coverage. Waging Nonviolence interviewed Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder Gar Alperovitz on the role of ideology, democratic planning, and the legacy of the Occupy movement. Sustainability media outlet TreeHugger acknowledged the Next System Project for its efforts to develop systemic approaches to address the broad range of sustainability challenges. Research Director Steve Dubb also contributed to this discussion with a piece about the trajectory of the new economy movement in Shelterforce magazine’s Rooflines. In an article for Al Jazeera, Gar discusses the inability of piecemeal policy and regulatory change to address growing economic and ecological problems. He points to the Roosevelt Institute’s most recent report, Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy, written by Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, as an important but still partial step in the right direction.
  • The Democracy Collaborative is excited to participate in BALLE’s 2015 annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona on June 10-12. Both Research Director Steve Dubb and I will be presenting and we hope you will join us there. Find more information here
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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Making Sense of the New Economy: Rethinking Community Economic Development


New from The Democracy Collaborative

Next System Project Launch Webinar Sparks Conversation about What’s Next

“There has got to be a new way forward,” began Gar Alperovitz, Democracy Collaborative co-founder and co-chair of the Next System Project in his opening remarks for the National Launch webinar of the Next System Project. Moderated by Laura Flanders of GRITtv, Gar was joined by Next System Project Co-Chair Gus Speth as well as Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College; Gerald Torres, professor of law at Cornell University; and Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink. Panelists discussed the conditions necessary to democratize wealth, touching on the importance of building racial equity into new institutions and policies, the connections between rising inequality, environmental degradation, incarceration, and militarism, and the need to develop indicators and shared metrics to identify what the next system might entail. The webinar launched the twitter conversation #WhatsNext, and reached over 2,400 people.  Find Out More»

Recommended Reads

Cooperation Among Cooperatives Bolsters the Co-op Movement 

This new report from the Filene Research Institute, with research support from the Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Cooperative Alliance Committee, quantifies the benefits that could arise from cooperation between non-financial cooperatives and credit unions. The study estimates that if non-financial cooperatives shifted half of their deposits from banks to credit unions over a ten-year period, the sector, which owns more than $75 billion in investible assets, could earn an additional $2.2 billion in interest payments and, in turn, assist smaller credit unions reach economies of scale. The authors offer several recommendations on how to improve collaboration, such as cross-promoting membership and locating credit union branches and ATMs in cooperatives, and they provide brief descriptions of successful collaborations from across the country. Read More»

Community Foundations Deepen Resident Engagement 

As community foundations look to address complex challenges, they are seeking to better integrate resident engagement directly into their work. To foster “longer-term, broader community impact,” many are experimenting with new partnerships and are shifting their internal structures to build capacity for deeper resident engagement. Powerful Partners: Lessons from Community Foundations about Resident Engagement, prepared by CFLeads, a national network for community foundations, highlights ten resident engagement lessons to help community foundations address issues such as race, equity, and power dynamics; and to help community foundations strike a balance between charitable and transformational activities. Read More»

Flexible Savings Promote Long-Term Financial Stability

Flexible savings allow families to manage unexpected financial emergencies and ultimately help families build long-term financial security. However, as this new report from the New America Asset Building Program highlights, flexible savings opportunities are limited, prompting many low-income families to take out payday loans or to incur financial penalties for early withdrawals from their tax-preferred accounts. The authors make several recommendations to broaden the offering of financial services and policies that both permit short-term use and help build assets in the long term. Proposals include eliminating asset limits in public assistance programs, creating a tax-time match for savings deposits, and expanding ownership of ROTH IRA-like accounts. Read More»


Paper Highlights City Policies to Support Cooperative Development

Written for the 2015 Austin Co-op Summit, this new paper from the Democracy at Work Institute highlights how the city governments of New York City, Minneapolis, and Madison, Wisconsin are supporting cooperative development. These cities are offering cooperatives technical assistance and are experimenting with loan funds to increase co-ops’ access to start- up capital as well as to fund co-op conversions and the creation of unionized worker cooperatives. The report notes lack of stable financing and limited technical assistance providers as some of the main challenges for cooperative development. Read More»

Featured Websites


Portland-based Ecotrust works to incubate and provide capital for social enterprises in the fields of watershed, fisheries, foodshed, and forestland management. Having developed enterprises like the Community Fisheries Network, the digital marketplace FoodHub, and the land-use participatory planning software Madrona, Ecotrust specializes in software development. Ecotrust also works with tribes and First Nations from Alaska to California to develop regional strategies for economic sovereignty. Find Out More»

Co-op Law

Co-op Law is a collaborative legal resource library, also available in Spanish, created by the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) and the Green-Collar Communities Clinic (GC3). The website provides legal resources on a variety of topics from cooperative conversion and financing to governance and taxes, and includes sample documents, such as bylaws and handbooks. The library also provides sector-specific resources, including childcare, housing, purchasing, and worker-owned cooperatives and hosts a “Special Topics” section with resources on youth cooperatives, green jobs, and cooperative incubation. Find Out More»

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