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

Welcome to our July newsletter. This month’s developments include: 
  • We are pleased to announce the re-launch of our website. Our redesign highlights various opportunities to foster democratic ownership and build community wealth. To mark the re-launch, we have also released a new animated film explaining the community wealth building approach to building collaborative, inclusive, and locally controlled economies. Read more below. We maintain the website free of charge as a resource to advocates and practitioners everywhere. Help us keep the site thriving with a tax deductible donation.
  • In The Leap, the companion blog to Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything, Gus Speth, Co-Chair of the Next System Project and a Senior Fellow with The Democracy Collaborative, speaks about the imperative of taking a systemic approach to confront the environmental crises facing us today. The Next System Project also released the latest installment in our video series, featuring MIT Associate Professor of Urban Politics Phillip Thompson, who discusses the historical fight for civil and economic rights and reminds us that “the true intent of the thirteenth amendment was not just to eliminate chattel slavery, but to eliminate all forms of economic oppression.”
  • Community wealth building continues to gain traction internationally. In an article in New Start Magazine, Matthew Jackson, deputy chief executive at the U.K.-based Center for Local Economic Strategies, which is helping to advance a Community Wealth Building Initiative in Preston, England, examines critical success factors in the development of Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives. Economist Borys Cieślak interviewed Manager of Community Development Programs Sarah McKinley for the Polish publication Magazyn Miasta (Cities Magazine) where she discusses “Clevelandzkim” and community wealth building strategies as an alternative to “business as usual.” 
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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New from The Democracy Collaborative

The Democracy Collaborative Re-Launches 


The Democracy Collaborative is excited to re-launch our website. The new site offers the same abundance of resources as before, but is easier to navigate and showcases more content. The homepage acts as a hub for community wealth building projects and resources from the field. We are currently featuring our newest video “What is Community Wealth Building?” This 7-minute animation shows how traditional economic development often merely increases corporate profit and presents community wealth building as a true alternative grounded in values of collaboration, inclusivity, and local ownership. Find Out More»

Recommended Reads

Local Currency Fosters Thriving Regional Economy in Massachusetts 

This new paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston discusses the development of BerkShares, a locally rooted currency launched in Berkshire County, Massachusetts in 2006. With over 400 businesses in the region accepting the community-based private money, to date more than $6 million BerkShares have been printed. The authors point to partnerships with local community banks and chambers of commerce as a promising strategy to ensure that the currency can scale and is accessible to all. They also identify the development of clearinghouses that facilitate bartering and location-specific gift cards as an alternative local wealth circulation tool in communities where the creation of local currencies may not possible. Read More»


Toolkit Offers Best Practices for Community-Based Police Reform

Responding to a justice system that criminalizes many people of color, a growing number of communities are looking for alternative approaches. This new toolkit from the Center for Popular Democracy and PolicyLink offers resources on community-based approaches and opportunities to end mass criminalization, foster safe and just police interactions, broaden community control of, and access to law enforcement bodies, and standardize governance around police use of force. Each section includes policy recommendations, examples of successful implementation, best practices, and links to sample legislation. Instead of regressive policies that rely on fines from civil infractions to fund municipalities, the authors call for progressive change and reinvestment in programs that support education, health, and economic well-being. Read More»

Housing and Matched Savings Programs Help Families Build Resilience 

In this new brief from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), authors Alicia Atkinson and Jeremie Greer discuss opportunities to integrate social services, financial education, and housing counseling to help families gain stable housing. They describe exemplary programs that help families in subsidized housing build assets and overcome challenges like subprime credit scores, foreclosure, limited access to affordable loans, and meager savings. The paper offers a series of recommendations for how Congress and federal agencies can expand services to help families become more resilient. Read More»

Land Banking Manual Highlights Latest Wave of Development

First appearing in the 1960s, land banking emerged as an important mechanism to address property abandonment, tax delinquency, and neighborhood instability. Its extraordinary resurgence after the Great Recession prompted Frank S. Alexander, co-founder of the Center for Community Progress and professor of law at Emory University, to re-release Land Banks and Land Banking, the authoritative resource on which eight states introduced and modeled their land banking legislation. This new edition includes insights from the latest wave of land banks, drawing on the experience of the nation’s 125 land banks. Read More»

Featured Websites

Wellspring Collaborative

Based in Springfield, Massachusetts, Wellspring Collaborative uses anchor institution purchasing to create a network of worker-owned businesses in low-income communities. Modeled after the Evergreen Cooperatives, the Collaborative provides job training and entry-level jobs to unemployed and underemployed residents. Wellspring started its first business, the Wellspring Upholstery Cooperative, in 2013 and plans are underway to launch the Wellspring Greenhouse Cooperative, which will provide local produce to hospitals, schools, businesses, and community members. Find Out More»

Future Economy

A project of Ecotrust and the E3 Network (Economics for Equity and Environment), The Future Economy Initiative provides additional analysis on the economic, social, and environmental impacts of community wealth building strategies and institutions, and identifies the factors contributing to their emergence, success, and limitations. To date, they have published a framework for analyzing the structure, function, and dynamics of emerging business models as well as six in-depth case studies, including the Greater University Circle Initiative in Cleveland and Vancouver’s Neighborhood Energy Utility. Find Out More»

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