E-Newsletter | November 2009
“Something important is happening in Cleveland.” That was the theme of the community event that inaugurated the opening of the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry on October 21st – a worker-owned commercial-scale “green” business based in the Glenville neighborhood, one of the most severely disinvested areas in Cleveland.
More than 300 participants – including leaders of the city’s major anchor institutions, business, and government representatives, and community development practitioners and neighborhood residents – heard Mayor Frank Jackson call the laundry, “a model for how we can put our people back to work and rebuild our community.”
The Evergreen Laundry is the first in a network of worker cooperatives that is being launched in the city. Next up: Ohio Cooperative Solar and Green City Growers. For more background on the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative:
View the 5-minute Evergreen video and meet the worker owners of the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry.
Read the article that appeared on the front page of the business section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Learn more about the Evergreen Initiative through The Cleveland Foundation’s newest publication.
Listen to this six-minute radio broadcast by journalist Daniel Denvir.
For the past two years, The Democracy Collaborative has been privileged to work with our partners in Ohio – including The Cleveland Foundation, ShoreBank Enterprise Cleveland, Towards Employment, and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University – to develop and implement a community wealth building strategy. All of us are committed to making the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative a pioneering and innovative model of job creation, wealth building, and sustainability.
We look forward to continuing to update you in the coming months and years. If you would like to explore how the Evergreen strategy might be adapted to your community’s needs, please feel free to be in communication with us.
As always, we have added dozens of new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol *NEW* to find the most recent additions. And don't forget to view our regularly updated C-W Blog.
Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative
NEW & RECOMMENDED:
Study Highlights Wealth Building Effect of Community Land Trusts
An evaluation of Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Vermont, the nation’s largest community land trust, shows that the community land trust model of shared equity has expanded access to home ownership while also providing permanent affordability. Resale restrictions have succeeded at maintaining affordability, even when home prices increased. More than two-thirds of the 205 residents who exited the land trust have “stepped up” to full home ownership after realizing their land trust equity gain.
Social Movements for Regional Equity Gain Ground
For the past 20 years, progressive movements have been flourishing at the local level. Increasingly, these movements are forming “regional equity” coalitions that seek to build wealth in their local communities by working across a range of issues, including affordable housing and access to transit. In this book, Manuel Pastor and colleagues contend that “social movement regionalism” may have a positive impact on the resurgence of rebuilding wealth in low-income communities across the United States. See:
flyer-pastor-et-al.pdf (1MB) and
Book Calls for Return to Progressive Roots
The Next Progressive Era begins with the premise that the issues concerning progressives 100 years ago—income inequality, a weak labor movement, and environmental destruction, to name a few—are the same issues facing the world today. Drawing confidence from the successes of the progressive era, authors Philip Longman and Ray Boshara advocate a return to its guiding principles of protecting families from the harmful effects of global capital and broadening ownership of both real estate and wealth to ensure shared prosperity.
Detroit and Oakland Exemplify Growing Urban Agriculture Movement
In Healthy Food for All, researchers at the nonprofit group PolicyLink and Michigan State University have joined forces to examine issues of access to healthy food in low-income communities, both in Detroit, Michigan and Oakland, California. Through interviews and focus groups, the investigators found that most low-income residents are aware of the need for healthy food but often lack access to healthy food sources. Yet residents in both cities are taking innovative actions to fix their food delivery systems.
IN THE NEWS:
Steelworkers and Mondragón worker co-op network announce new alliance
The United Steelworkers union and Mondragón Cooperative Corporation, which is based in the Basque region of Spain and employs over 100,000 in a network of over one hundred worker cooperatives, announced the formation of a new alliance. In announcing this alliance, Steelworker President Leo Gerard noted, "Too often we have seen Wall Street hollow out companies by draining their cash and assets and hollowing out communities by shedding jobs and shuttering plants. We need a new business model that invests in workers and invests in communities."
Impact Investing Seeks to Harness Capital for Social and Environmental Benefit
The inaugural issue of the social enterprise magazine Beyond Profit explores the viability of what Antony Bugg-Levine of the Rockefeller Foundation labels “impact investment.” Such investments, Bugg-Levine argues, “seek to make for-profit investments that can also provide solutions to social and environmental challenges.” For such social investments to succeed, however, will require the development of clear measures of success and an infrastructure that provides investors with both transparency and liquidity.
Plastic Safety Net Highlights Problems of Consumer Debt
In 2008, the nonprofit organization Demos administered a national household survey of credit card debt to low- and middle-income households. Of the 45 percent of low- and middle-income households with credit card debt, the average length of time in debt was five years and almost half accrued late fees. The authors conclude with three key policy recommendations: increase household savings, bolster employment and the safety net while reducing cost pressures, and guarantee fair lending practices.
Urban Institute Examines Foreclosure Impacts on Families and Communities
The foreclosure crisis, while affecting the entire country, has had a more severe impact in certain neighborhoods and metropolitan areas—especially those where property values were already in decline— reports the Urban Institute in its latest study on the foreclosure crisis. The paper also looks at local strategies to curb the negative effects of foreclosure. A silver lining in the housing crisis, the authors suggest, is that it provides an opening for advocates to push for broader housing goals such as affordable rental housing.
Study Calls for Social Enterprise Solutions to the Challenges of Global Poverty
This study—published by the Monitor Group—advocates business development solutions to poverty. The authors identify three key characteristics of successful microfinance operations to be self-funding, scale, and the development of tailored business models. Focusing on seven case studies, the authors find that success requires engaging the poor as customers and suppliers who have something to offer, not as supplicants or beneficiaries of aid.
Community Development Banks Continue to Grow, Even in Sour Economy
In its annual evaluation of community development banking, the National Community Investment Fund notes that this is one sector of banking that is actually growing. At the end of 2008, there were 63 certified community development banks nationally, up from 55 the year before. NCIF believes that hundreds more of these banking institutions could be certified. Although the recession has hurt the balance sheets of community development banks just like those of other financial institutions, the deep relationships they have with borrowers help them foster debt-restructuring strategies.
Town-Gown Relations Evolve as Colleges Take on Economic Development Role
This policy report from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy explores the evolving relationship between universities and their surrounding communities in terms of land use and development. The authors note that universities have become increasingly important in cities as anchor institutions that surpport community development. The report also details which strategies work (and don't work) for mitigating land use conflicts.
“Buy Local” Leader Calls for Local Stock Exchanges to Spur Development
While local small businesses constitute one-half of the American economy, they receive almost no investment funds, notes Michael Shuman, Research and Public Policy Director of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). In an article published in the Community Development Investment Review, a journal of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Shuman argues that removing barriers to low-risk, small-scale stock ownership in local businesses could help small business become the engine of renewed growth in local communities.
Paper Highlights Innovative Uses of Stimulus Funds
Examining the use of stimulus funds throughout American cities, this paper from the Brookings Institution highlights innovations in the use of stimulus funding “on the ground” in cities across America. Recognizing how federal regulations have sometimes stifled effective action from below, the authors make recommendations of ways that the federal government can “get out of the way” and more effectively foster innovation, creativity, and efficiency.
C-W.ORG INTERVIEWS WITH COMMUNITY BUILDERS:
The twelfth interview in our continuing series of conversations with community wealth-building leaders, this edition we feature Steven McCullough. McCulloch is CEO of Bethel New Life, one of the nation's leading community development corporations, based in the West Garfield neighborhood of Chicago. In this interview, McCullough talks about community development corporations, transit-oriented development, green building, and the challenges facing community wealth builders in the current economic recession.
The seventeenth in our continuing series of profiles of Community Wealth Cities: Buffalo, New York. Like other Rust Belt cities, Buffalo has seen many blue-collar jobs disappear. In response, City officials and residents have developed a number of community wealth building initiatives, with many aiming to combine urban revitalization with “green” strategies, including an eco-industrial park, urban agriculture, and community gardens.
Building the Worker Co-op Movement
Nearly 200 co-op activists gathered for the 5th Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 31-August 2. This year’s theme, “Democracy Works: Worker Cooperatives, Labor Solidarity, and Sustainability” focused on the successes and best practices of the cooperative movement. As Carl Davidson explains in this report, attendees covered a wide range of topics. Models from abroad featured prominently at the conference: notably, the Mondragón system of co-ops in Spain and co-ops in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Both were examined with an eye toward lessons they might provide for co-ops in the United States.
Article reprinted with the permission of Carl Davidson.
Asset Coalition Toolkit for the States
The Asset Coalition Toolkit for the States (ACTS) is an independent, information-sharing website through which state coalitions can exchange knowledge and strategies in the asset-building field. Sponsored by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law's Community Investment Unit, with support from the Levi Straus Foundation and the Friedman Family Foundation, ACTS provides a forum that fosters innovation through a wealth of resources.
Ohio Employee Ownership Center
The Ohio Employee Ownership Center (OEOC) provides technical assistance, research, and training to businesses in Ohio and around the globe to promote its mission of expanding ownership of productive capital. Assisting companies that want to become employee-owned or those that are already employee-owned, OEOC’s programs include grants to mitigate job loss and assistance to companies that are transitioning ownership. OEOC has partnered with The Democracy Collaborative and the Cleveland Foundation to launch the Evergreen Laundry Cooperative.
TimeBanks USA, whose mission is "strengthening communities through reciprocity," helps develop and support time banks across the United States. A time bank is an institution where community members can “deposit” hours they spent working in the community in order to earn time when someone else works for them. This give-and-take approach to building communities breeds mutual value and respect that goes beyond the exchange of money. Each time bank has a website that coordinates the time needs of its community.
PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing) (Buffalo, NY)
PUSH is a grassroots nonprofit community organization that empowers residents of Buffalo’s West Side to challenge poverty head-on. PUSH strives to engage the community in order to demand living wages and better housing. PUSH’s West Side Revitalization Project focuses on housing rehabilitation and weatherization while ensuring that low-income residents are trained and hired to work on such housing projects. In 2009, PUSH partnered with other local groups to advocate fair share tax reform in response to potentially devastating state budget cuts in New York.
The Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis (CHEPA) at the University of Southern California conducted a three-year study to determine the impact, potential, and pitfalls of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) in helping low-income students gain access to and find success in higher education. Their findings can be found on this website. IDA-Pays also provides publications for policy stakeholders, as well as information on best practices and how to start an education IDA program.
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