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Previously in this series:

Last Min. Notice: The Growing Cooperatives Movement & How You Can Get Involved. Yes! Magazine Conference Call - Includes some information on cooperatives and YES! Magazine, an important resource for understanding New Economy and other subjects of relevance to progressives, especially those inclined toward direct action.

YES! Magazine arranged the call with the following panel to expand upon it's spring 2013 issue, How Cooperatives Are Driving the New Economy.

Conference Call Participants

Moderator
Sarah van Gelder, Executive Editor, YES! Magazine

Panelists
Laura Flanders, GRITtv and the Laura Flanders Show
Omar Freilla, The Green Worker Cooperatives
Eric Bowman, The Northwest Cooperative Development Center (NWCDC)
Ted Howard, Democracy Collaborative, Evergreen Cooperatives
Mike Beall, The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA)

Call Transcript, Pt 1. (Sarah van Gelder, Laura Flanders)
We've found that there's something very different that happens when human beings can make decisions driven by all of the things we care about: our communities, the freshness of our air and the [?] of our water, our children and their children down to the seventh generation, as our native friends say--all of these can come to the forefront if profit and loss statements and returning profits to those who are already wealthy isn't our dominant concern. -Sarah van Gelder
What did the workers do this time? Well, this time, in 2012, they took over the factory. They made it their ask of their owners, the ask for the right from the owners to bid on the equipment. Sure, back pay and severance, but right to the workers to bid on the equipment and on the factory operations was a big part of their demands in that second takeover.

And they won. They won a promise from the company that they would be able to bid. They had the backing of the group I mentioned, Working World. They had the backing of the United Electrical Workers. They had two years of thinking and training and relationship building under their belt. And, more or less, since the winter of 2012, they've started on this campaign to being their own bosses. - Laura Flanders

Call Transcript, Pt 2 (Omar Freilla)

Regarding The Green Worker Cooperatives' Coop Academy, a Bronx-based coop "boot camp."

This is an opportunity for people who are interested in cooperatives, people who are interested in businesses, business development, and not just to go with the lowest common denominator and accept any kind of a business, but to really push the envelope and develop businesses that actually generate wealth, generate a community and maximize the kind of wealth that you're paying a community and at the same time have people working in the place and making decisions who really have the community's interest at heart, because they actually live there. That's really central to us. - Omar Freilla
The transcript for Sarah's conversation with Eric Bowman follows.

SARAH: ...I want to introduce Eric Bowman, who is a coop development specialist for the Northwest Cooperative Development Center in Olympia, WA, where he provides business development advice to farms and natural resource cooperatives. He's authored feasibility studies and business plans and provided technical assistance to start-ups of coops. And he serves as board chair of the Tulips Credit Union, which I, I haven't heard of a tulips credit union before Eric, but, welcome to this program and glad you're here. Some of the questions in particular that we're starting to get suggest that people are really interested in the technical side of, of how you do this...How do you actually get a coop going? But, before we get to that, just tell us how you got involved in this and what sort of trends you're seeing in the cooperative movement.

ERIC: Excellent, thank you for the wonderful introduction.

Yeah, I've been with NWCDC for about 9 years. And before that I had my own small business and, basically, I just hated being alone. I thought: there's gotta be a better way of doing this. From there I kind of transitioned into the work that you were describing.

To cue off of the trends on where I see the cooperative business sector transitioning...one, I just want to mention a little bit about where coops are, and, I would point out that...

...coops that are dynamic and relevant in our modern economy, they're doing very strongly in terms of sales, assets, employment levels. I mean, these have never been higher.

There's about 29,000 coops that serve about 43% of the U.S. population, whether it's rural electric or a credit union or a farmer coop... And these are businesses that have an internationally recognized set of principles, you know, such as democracy.

And they're really the only utopian vision that can actually operate in a  highly complex economy.
So where is this going?

From my perspective, the investor-driven sector is increasingly dysfunctional, they've been prone to some ridiculous bubbles and crises; they're pouring resources into political self-preservation. They've broken the social contract through tax evasion. And it's not been as good at meeting our needs as it claimed or thinks it is.

Meanwhile, government is in gridlock and a period of contraction. And--I say this as somebody who's been around nonprofits, you know, and has a lot of friends in it--the nonprofit sector is increasingly under strain, due to less resources and increasing demand.

So, for these reasons, mutalism is in.
Within the generation, we're never seen this much interest in new cooperative formation. My goal is that this isn't the high water mark but rather the start of an even bigger trend.
The top sectors that we're focusing on at NWCDC are:

1) number one, food systems. So local foods, like food coops, online ordering, like Idaho's Bounty...ad marketing for small farmers.

2) Two would be housing...specifically manufactured housing. I think there's a massive opportunity right now to convert existing communities into cooperative ownership.

3) And finally, low income workers. Home care, house cleaning...

I'm a little reluctant to point this out, but we're all on track to become low income workers.

So, you know, food, housing, and employment...there's not a coincidence that these are some of our most basic human needs.

SARAH: Thank you, Eric, that's great.

TO BE CONTINUED

UPDATE

Part 4 is now available here.



Originally posted to Words In Action on Sat May 04, 2013 at 01:22 PM PDT.

Also republished by Intentional Community Research and Development.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    The singularity we are witnessing is the passing of the last wave of people who had the luxury to behave as if the past 30 years did not happen.

    by Words In Action on Sat May 04, 2013 at 01:22:01 PM PDT

  •  The Tulips Credit Union, btw, (6+ / 0-)
    ...links low-income members with the financial products, services, and education necessary for financial independence. At the same time, it offers more affluent members the opportunity for community investment through the loans and deposits they make with TULIP.

    The singularity we are witnessing is the passing of the last wave of people who had the luxury to behave as if the past 30 years did not happen.

    by Words In Action on Sat May 04, 2013 at 01:33:16 PM PDT

  •  Thank you SO MUCH for all the (5+ / 0-)

    transcription,WiA! I'm playing catch up with parts 1 & 2.

    This is really excellent.

    •  Thank you for (4+ / 0-)

      noticin' ;^)

      Obviously, I think it's an important topic and really appreciated the job YES! Magazine and it's panelists did on the conference call.

      The singularity we are witnessing is the passing of the last wave of people who had the luxury to behave as if the past 30 years did not happen.

      by Words In Action on Sat May 04, 2013 at 02:07:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  WIA, slowly you are drawing me in..... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Words In Action, Mary Mike

        I am reading and liking what I read, (mostly...)

        I really, really like the idea of being part of the solution.  And community/mutualism definitely, in its many manifestations, seems like the best solution.

        One of my professors in a graduate course was talking about getting social groups to change.  She illustrated her point with a homegrown analogy.  She said that when her lawn is overrun with weeds, the solution is not to focus on the weeds, but to plant and cultivate more new hardy grass which will eventually take over the weeds.

        Hopefully the more human and humane mutualism model will crowd out the 'weeds' of insatiable capitalism.  But it takes people practicing these principles in increasingly viable ways, to make the 'everything for profit' sector lose its appeal and dominance in this society.

        So, thank you for your enormous work that you are doing with your diaries.   I, for one, am learning a lot and thinking about what you write about.

        We Must DISARM THE NRA The next life you save may be ONE OF YOUR OWN!

        by SeaTurtle on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:25:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Me too. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SeaTurtle, Mary Mike

          I'm being drawn in. Not only do I think it's fascinating but I think it is vital to the way forward, the way out of the unfolding multifaceted disaster we are experiencing.

          I like the weeds analogy, btw.

          Exactly. That's why I am committed to investing time on a alternatives that can be developed and operated in parallel to the dominant culture/economy, so that they can eventually just drive it off the lawn...

          And you're welcome. It's really been my pleasure. I need to do it.

          From here on out, no one can escape the havoc wrought by the unmitigated Class, Climate and Terror Wars.

          by Words In Action on Sun May 05, 2013 at 12:28:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  there's more! i am falling even more behind. thank (3+ / 0-)

    you for the heroic effort. is there a podcast of this somewhere?

    "None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps" Thurgood Marshall

    by UTvoter on Sat May 04, 2013 at 02:09:11 PM PDT

  •  interesting stuff. (3+ / 0-)

    you've put a lot of work into this series, and its been very interesting.  

  •  Hey BigAl (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Klusterpuck, dadoodaman

    I see you lurking up there in the tip jar.

    ;^)

    good to see you.

    The singularity we are witnessing is the passing of the last wave of people who had the luxury to behave as if the past 30 years did not happen.

    by Words In Action on Sat May 04, 2013 at 02:13:49 PM PDT

  •  I checked out NWCDC's website and they mention (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dadoodaman, Words In Action

    this new documentary film called "Shift Change." Looks great.

    “Washington has become our Versailles. We are ruled, entertained, and informed by courtiers -- and the media has evolved into a class of courtiers." - Chris Hedges

    by Klusterpuck on Sun May 05, 2013 at 07:17:26 AM PDT

    •  Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action

      I agree. I should try to organize a screening.

      All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. - Kurt Vonnegut
      It's a very frightening time when something as basic as due process is seen as somehow radical. - John Cusack

      by dadoodaman on Sun May 05, 2013 at 07:27:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. I'm planning (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SeaTurtle

      a diary on that. Eric Bowman mentions in later in the call.

      I still have to look into it further, and I have a bit more to do on this series. And then I have an incomplete series on The Farm. And I want to write about Time Banks and other, alternative economic paradigms. And I have this other group on Affordable, Sustainable Housing that needs serious attention.

      I'm a little backed up.

      The singularity we are witnessing is the passing of the last wave of people who had the luxury to behave as if the past 30 years did not happen.

      by Words In Action on Sun May 05, 2013 at 07:36:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We MUST begin supporting businesses like (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dadoodaman

    Idaho's Bounty.

    I think about what we did to Air America by not supporting it. There are many other examples. Link TV, The Nation, Mother Jones, Grist, Common Dreams, Truthdig. And you can look at individuals, too, like Amy Goodman and Chris Hedges, who work tirelessly on the behalf of the broader Movement for meaningful progress.

    “Washington has become our Versailles. We are ruled, entertained, and informed by courtiers -- and the media has evolved into a class of courtiers." - Chris Hedges

    by Klusterpuck on Sun May 05, 2013 at 07:21:07 AM PDT

    •  This. ^^^^ (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action

      And there are many ways to show support.

      In addition to money in the form of purchases and donations, a panoply of volunteering possibilities, including arms-length methods like simply spreading the word about them, their works and the products of their works.

      All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. - Kurt Vonnegut
      It's a very frightening time when something as basic as due process is seen as somehow radical. - John Cusack

      by dadoodaman on Sun May 05, 2013 at 07:26:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've been thinking a lot lately (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle

    how good it would be to just start our own, alternative economy and leave the one we have now to consume itself and die.

    I've long known capitalism can't be sustained indefinitely on a planet with finite resources.  The destructive ends to which it has gone are only intensifying.  Capitalism is now a shadow of its former self.  It would seem the captains of industry are all now trying to figure out new and better ways to tap the public treasury and screw people over.  That's a far cry from the glorious days of innovation, competition, and even basic supply and demand.

    A new model is in order - one that depends less on rapacious growth to thrive.  An economy that is more akin to an intelligently designed biosphere - self-sustaining and beneficial to all.

    Cooperatives are a natural start to such a new economy, and sticking to the local as best as possible a good rule of thumb.  Another would be to nationalize all utilities, including fuels, and more local governance by the people, rather than the highly paid execs of today.  Our local electrical company, for example, is a "cooperative" in name only.  The board is owned by oil and coal, lock stock and barrel.  Governance needs to be broader and flatter with considerably less pay.

    Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

    by Gustogirl on Sun May 05, 2013 at 08:39:42 AM PDT

    •  Gg, I agree with all you say & you say it so well! (0+ / 0-)

      This is a quotable quote:

      A new model is in order - one that depends less on rapacious growth to thrive.  An economy that is more akin to an intelligently designed biosphere - self-sustaining and beneficial to all.
      tx.

      We Must DISARM THE NRA The next life you save may be ONE OF YOUR OWN!

      by SeaTurtle on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:28:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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