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Dear Colleague,

Welcome to our October 2015 newsletter:
  • It is with great sadness that all of us at The Democracy Collaborative join in mourning the passing of Detroit-based activist Grace Lee Boggs. Grace leaves behind a seven-decade legacy working for systemic change as a community organizer, deeply rooted in the labor, Black Power, environmental justice, and feminist movements. She authored The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century, and was an influential leader in the effort to create grassroots alternatives to build a more democratic economy. A documentary about her life and work is available to stream for free on PBS until November fourth.
  • The Next System Project released their newest video which explores innovative models at the local level that have begun to lay the groundwork for systemic change. Read more below. The Next System Project also published an interview with the historian Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of Collective Courage, in which she describes her vision for system change and its foundation in the history of Black cooperative economic development. Read the full conversation here.
  • In a Yes! Magazine article on the role of Community Development Credit Unions, Director of Special Projects Steve Dubb underscored the importance of developing an ecosystem of support to foster thriving businesses in low-income communities. Steve also spoke with economist Michael Shuman in a C-W Interview about local economy “pollinators”—self-sustaining social enterprises with an explicit mission to support other local businesses. Read more below.
  • Democracy Collaborative staff continue to promote community wealth building in the field, both at home and abroad. Last month, I had the pleasure to speak at the German Marshall Fund’s Bilbao Urban Innovation and Leadership Dialogues (BUILD) conference in Spain regarding opportunities to foster systemic change at the local level. In openDemocracy, Executive Director of the Next System Project Joe Guinan and Director of Research Thomas Hanna discussed public ownership and efficiency in the context of Jeremy Corbyn’s successful campaign for leadership of the Labour Party in Great Britain. Last month, Thomas opened a Pennsylvania Public Bank Project conference and webinar at the University of Pittsburgh with a presentation on “The Surprising Vitality of Public Ownership in the United States.” 
  • Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder Gar Alperovitz delivered the opening plenary keynote address at the 2015 Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP), which is available to watch online. Gar also spoke about worker cooperatives in the “American work” podcast series (co-produced by The Nation and Boston public radio’s Open Source with Christopher Lydon), and participated in a panel conversation with Congressman John Conyers Jr., at the 45th Annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference. In Truthout Gar discussed how the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan can empower states to build a democratized and just energy system; in Yes! Magazine, he responded to a Wall Street Journal article on the importance of capital ownership; and in Al Jazeera he discussed the moral imperative of systemic change in conjunction with the visit of Pope Francis and the presidential campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
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:

Gary Cohen, partner in healthcare innovation, wins MacArthur 'Genius' Award

From New York to Oakland, CA, city governments support worker coops


On Our Calendar:

Webinar: Why Worker Cooperative Conversions and Ownership Make Sense Now
Hosted by the Federal Reserve,
October 15, 2015

Worker Cooperatives Forum
Rochester, NY
October 17, 2015

3rd Annual Race, Poverty, & Social Justice Conference
Lynchburg, VA
October 24, 2015

PolicyLink Equity Summit
Los Angeles, CA
October 27, 2015


New from The Democracy Collaborative

C-W Interview: Michael Shuman

This month we interview Michael Shuman, an economist, attorney, and globally recognized expert on community economics. He is the author of nine books, including The Local Economy Solution, published this year, which presents the stories of 28 “pollinator” enterprises—self-financing social enterprises with an explicit mission to support other local businesses. Shuman is also one of the architects of the crowdfunding reforms that became the JOBS Act and an advocate for state initiatives to facilitate and encourage local investment. Shuman is a fellow at Cutting Edge Capital and the Post-Carbon Institute, and is a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). Find Out More»

Watch: Transforming Cities, Changing the System

“Either you build from the bottom up or nothing changes,” Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder and Co-chair of the Next System Project Gar Alperovitz reminds us in the Next System Project’s newest video. Joined in the video by Sarita Gupta of Jobs with Justice, actor and activist Danny Glover, Camille Kerr from the Democracy at Work Institute, and other Next System Project signatories, Gar discusses innovative models at the local level that have begun to lay the groundwork for systemic changeFind Out More»

Recommended Reads

Department of Transportation Pilots New Local Hiring Program 

The U.S. Department of Transportation is piloting a program which allows cities and states to require local hiring when using Federal Highway Administration or Federal Transit Administration funds—a preference previously considered illegal. The pilot program allows the use of good faith effort provisions and incentives, as well as penalties, to encourage compliance and ensure transportation projects help build pathways to prosperity (as outlined in USDOT’s Ladders of Opportunity vision). This paper from Brightline Defense provides guidance on the new local hiring pilot, with the authors highlighting the legal basis for the pilot program, constitutional challenges to local hiring, and suggested guidelines for local hiring. Read More»

Research Series Highlights Divides Between Thriving and Struggling Families

“The Demographies of Wealth” essay series from the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis examines how a family’s race or ethnicity, educational attainment, and age relate to their economic outcomes and financial health. Drawing from the Federal Reserve’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances, which includes data from over 40,000 families (spanning 1989 to 2013), the paper provides a snapshot of four ethnic groups in terms of net worth, income, assets, liabilities, and basic financial decision-making. The authors conclude that there are stark divides between thriving and struggling families, with little progress made over the last quarter-century. Read More»

New Report Highlights Strategies for Developing Permanently Affordable Housing Near Public Transit 

While Transit Oriented Development can produce tremendous benefits for local communities, such as greater access to job opportunities, it can also drive up land prices and displace existing residents. To create and preserve affordable housing near public transit, the National Community Land Trust Network recommends Equitable Transit Oriented Development (ETOD), an alternative approach to integrated land use and housing planning that “ensures that all persons have greater mobility choices and access to opportunity.” The authors highlight community land trusts, limited-equity housing cooperatives, Community Benefit Agreements, and inclusionary zoning. The report also includes a case study of Denver’s FasTracks program, which created a $15 million loan fund to enable the purchase and holding of land near planned transit sites, as well as a list of federal resources that can support ETOD planning, piloting, and implementation. Read More»


Survey Finds Bias in State Incentives for Economic Development

Good Jobs First released their findings from a national survey measuring small business owners’ satisfaction with state economic development subsidies and policies. Respondents reported that their most pressing need—access to capital—was not being addressed and cited government support for linked deposits in community banks, direct lending, and legislation to allow crowd-sourced funding as policy opportunities. Many also noted that investment in workforce development, education, and transportation are tremendous supports for small businesses “Customers coming through the door is the single biggest thing that builds a business, not a tax break,” the report states. “Infrastructure that gets foot traffic in the door is a better investment than tax breaks.” Read More»

Featured Websites

Urban Sustainability Directors Network

Launched in 2008, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) brings together more than 120 sustainability directors from across the United States and Canada. USDN aims to foster peer-to-peer exchange and collaboration among local government professionals working to create healthier environments, economic prosperity, and increased social equity. The network has eight regional affiliates, offers competitive grants, and produces a series of case studies on topics ranging from food systems, to waste, to economic development. Find Out More»

Rethinking Prosperity

Housed in the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement at the University of Washington in Seattle, the research network Rethinking Prosperity works to reframe the “economy vs. environment” conversation and advance economic models that promote both equity and sustainability. Their research focuses on production, distribution, consumption, and purpose fundamentals of economic systems, and utilizes “big data tools” to locate where productive ideas are being discussed, who is talking about them, and where they are getting uptake in media, government, and policy circles. Find Out More»

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