Local Communities

Communities Building Their Own Economies

Steve Dubb
Stanford Social Innovation Review

Steve Dubb writes for the Stanford Social Innovation Review on the importance of having access to tools that educate and empower low-income communities to shape their economic future.

Empowering communities to take control of economic development is slow, patient work—and people funding or supporting it need to take this into account when assessing success. Long-term, place-based commitments are critical; parachuting in and out does little to build local capacity. And the metrics we use need to take into account the often intangible relationship-building that weaves together a truly empowered community; shortcuts and quick fixes can cause real damage.

Why are councils investing in the fracking industry they oppose?

Mathew Brown
The Guardian

Mathew Brown writes for the Gaurdian in "Why are councils investing in the fracking industry they oppose?" In this article, Mathew Brown writes about the pension funds investing:

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, fracking has been effectively halted, but councils there still oversee pension funds investing heavily in fracking companies.

In Lancashire our has county council had its own now infamous battle with then communities secretary Sajid Javid when he overturned the council’s rejection of Cuadrilla’s application to frack at Preston New Road. Two years on Cuadrilla are set to begin drilling – and the government is attempting to ensure that councils lose any oversight of where fracking developments are established.

Read more at The Gaurdian

 

The Next Global Financial Crisis is Inevitable

The Real News Network
The Real News Network

The Real News Network  interviews Thomas Hanna of the Democracy Collaborative about 'The Next Global Financial Crisis is Inevitable.' In this article, The Real News Network discusses the report The Crisis Next Time:

It has been ten years since the last major financial crisis. With systemic deregulation undoing the safeguards, we are due for another crisis very one soon. Thomas Hanna, research director of the Democracy Collaborative’s Next System Project, says it is almost guaranteed

Watch in The Real News Network 

 

In the Age of Disaster Capitalism, Is ‘Survival Socialism’ the Solution?

Laura Flanders
The Nation

In this article, Laura Flanders writes for The Nation "In the Age of Disaster Capitalism, Is ‘Survival Socialism’ the Solution?" In this article, she writes about the needs for alternative to the boom and bust cylce of capitalism, as well as featuring graphic designed by Dylan Petrohilos 

Brown is tall and bald, mid-40s, but, even now, you can imagine him as a boy, smart and obsessive, taking radios apart to study their workings and reassemble them better. What he’s been tinkering with since he was elected to the Preston City Council in 2002, at age 30, is the machinery of city government. In 2011, after a 12-year plan to create jobs fell apart when a powerful name-brand retailer pulled out of what was to have been a shiny new shopping center, Brown reached out to Ted Howard of the Democracy Collaborative, an American “think-and-do tank” that he’d been reading about online. The collaborative helped start the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland.

Read more in the Nation 

A Trump Plan To Nationalize Coal Plants Could Be A Surprise Gift To Climate Hawks

Alexander C. Kaufman
Huffington Post

Alexander C. Kaufman writes in the Huffington Post "A Trump Plan To Nationalize Coal Plants Could Be A Surprise Gift To Climate Hawks." In this article, Kaufman quotes Thomas Hanna and the research by the Democracy Collaborative: 

All of this fortifies the argument that investors cannot reform fossil fuel producers quickly enough, making the case stronger for severe government intervention in the form of nationalization, said Thomas Hanna, director of research at the Democracy Collaborative, a left-leaning think tank.

“Time may simply have run out on other options that we may be considering now,” Hanna said. “If climate change is a crisis, which it will be in the future, all economic possibilities need to be on the table to deal with that, and that means taking over fossil fuel companies.”

Hanna and his team estimated that it would cost the government $1.15 trillion to buy the top 25 largest U.S.-based, publicly traded oil and gas companies as well as the roughly four major remaining publicly-traded coal producers. That may sound like a lot, but he argued that could cost less than $200 billion annually over six years, which is slightly over one-third of the military’s current annual budget.

Read more in Huffington Post 
 

Another Community Foundation With High Hopes for Impact Investing

Alyssa Ochs and David Callahan
Inside Philanthropy

Alyssa Ochs and David Callahan write in Inside Philanthropy, "Another Community Foundation With High Hopes for Impact Investing." In this article, the writers highlight the study released by the Democracy Collaborative A new Achor Mission Strategy For A New Century:

Impact investing by community foundations is not a new thing. Back in 2012, for example, the Council on Foundations brought together leaders from the worlds of impact investing and community foundations to help more local funders get going with impact investing. That effort led to a handy field guide to this topic in 2013, produced by COF and Mission Investors Exchange. A year later, the Democracy Collaborative released a study, "A New Anchor Mission for a New Century," which analyzed how 30 innovative community foundations were engaged in impact investing, often around housing and economic development, two areas where larger amounts of capital are needed to move the needle. 

Read more in Inside Philanthropy

 

Employee ownership can boost NY economy, families

Jessica Rose
Times Union

CFO, and Director of Employee-Ownership of the Democracy Collaborative, Jessica Rose writes in Times Union "Employee ownership can boost NY economy, families." Rose's op-ed highlights how empowee-ownership can boost upstate New York's economy: 

"Companies owned by their employees are more widespread than you might think. Nationally, there are at least 7,000 of these firms in nearly every major industry, sector, and region of the U.S. In New York, many employee-owned businesses are recognized industry leaders and household brands, such as Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) in the Bronx, and Chobani yogurt, in Norwich, which each employ more than 2,000 workers. Though structured differently, both offer employees an opportunity to share in the fruits of their labor which, in turn, makes workers invested in the company's success. It's not just fair, its smart: Extensive research shows that participatory employee ownership contributes to greater productivity and firm stability." 


Read more in Times Union

Anchoring Hospitals In The Community

Laurie Larson
Trustee Magazine

Laurie Larson writes the article Trusteee Magazine "Anchoring hospitals in the community." In this article, Larson covers the Healthcare Anchor Network, a project of the Democracy Collaborative: 

Theirs is just one example of the work emerging from the Healthcare Anchor Network, a blooming consortium of nearly three dozen health systems launched in May 2017. The network's overarching goal is to “reach a critical mass of U.S. health systems [that are] strategically improving community health and well-being by leveraging all of their institutional assets, including intentionally integrating local economic inclusion strategies in hiring, purchasing and investing.”

HAN is the brainchild of the Democracy Collaborative, an economic development agency in Cleveland, which was launched as a “democratic renewal” research center at the University of Maryland in 2000. The collaborative has since moved well beyond its research roots, offering field activities to expand community wealth-building, hosting nationwide roundtables to discuss transformative economic development solutions, and advising local governments, foundations and anchor institutions such as health systems on new strategies for addressing the root causes of socio-economic inequity in their communities.

The ‘Preston Model’ And The Modern Politics of Municipal Socialism

Thomas M. Hanna, Joe Guinan and Joe Bilsborough
Open Democracy

Thomas M. Hanna, Joe Guinana, and Joe Bilsborough write in Open Democracy  "The ‘Preston Model’ and the modern politics of municipal socialism."In this piece, the writers highlight the flagship community wealth building project in Cleveland, Ohio, and Preston, England and what it means for municipal socialism: 

There are now two flagship models of community wealth building—and a growing number of additional efforts in cities across the United States and United Kingdom.  The first model is the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio—created, in part, by our own organisation, The Democracy Collaborative. Cleveland had lost almost half of its population and most of its large publicly-traded companies due to deindustrialisation, disinvestment, and capital flight. But it still had very large non-profit and quasi-public institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, and University Hospitals—known as anchor institutions because they are rooted in place and aren’t likely to up and leave. Together, Cleveland’s anchors were spending around $3 billion per year, very little of which was previously staying in the local community. The Democracy Collaborative worked with them to localise a portion of their procurement in support of a network of purposely-created green worker co-ops, the Evergreen Co-operatives, tied together in a community corporation so that they too are rooted in place. Today these companies are profitable and are beginning to eat the lunch of the multinational corporations that had previously provided contract services to the big anchors. Last month came the announcement of an expansion of the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry to a new site serving the needs of the Cleveland Clinic, with a hundred new employees on fast track to worker ownership.

A Second City

Nissa Rhee
Chicago Magazine

Writing in Chicago Magazine, Nissa Rhee writes a long-form article on the effects of poverty in Chicago; "A second city."  Rhee quotes David Zuckerman about the anchor strategy in Chicago's West Side Total Health Collaborative

“Our job as doctors is to heal and prevent suffering,” says Ansell. “In this situation, the healing needs to be aimed at neighborhoods.”

While most anchor institution strategies around the country have focused on one issue, employment or housing for example, the West Side Total Health Collaborative has a wide scope and an impressive goal: To improve life expectancy across region and halve the 16-year life expectancy gap between West Garfield Park and the Loop by 2030.

According to David Zuckerman, a manager for health care engagement at the Democracy Collaborative and organizer of the Healthcare Anchor Network, it is “the most ambitious collective strategy around anchor work” he’s seen to redirect money into a particular region.

Read more in Chicago Mag

A Plan to Nationalize Fossil-Fuel Companies

Peter Gowan
Jacobin

Writing in Jacobin Magazine, Peter Gowan proposes a "A Plan to Nationalize Fossil-Fuel Companies." Highlight the research of the Democracy Collaborative published in the Nation magazine:

This could be quite costly — writers from The Democracy Collaborative recently estimated “the price tag to purchase outright the top 25 largest US-based publicly traded oil and gas companies, along with most of the remaining publicly traded coal companies” at $1.15 trillion. But there are ways to minimize this cost while still obtaining all of the benefits.

Read more in Jacobin

Labour's New Economics Conference: Part Five, Local Democratic Economic Strategies

Tom Gann
New Socialist

Tom Gann writes for New Socialist in "Labour's New Economics Conference: Part Five, Local Democratic Economic Strategies." Gann recaps the UK Labour Party's panel, "Local Democratic Economic Strategies," at the New Economic Conference. The panel included Matthew Brown, Preston City Council; Heather Wakefield, UNISON; Ted Howard, president/co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative:

Ted Howard, Democracy Collaborative

Howard began by talking of the “pilgrimage” from the USA to Preston, and how Preston had now eclipsed what had been achieved in the US. He then outlined the principles of Community Wealth Building.

  • The priority of labour over capital, particularly in a crisis, with continued stable employment more important than capital’s profits.
  • The need for local and broad-based rather than absentee ownership, as the basis for asserting what interests are valued.
  • The importance of active democratic ownership contrasted with the passive, consumer model of neoliberalism.
  • The central role for multipliers and internalising the circulation of money with investment sticking rather than capital being extracted.
  • Economic development understood not as a partnership between the state and business, in which the state is unaccountable and subordinate, but as a multistakeholder process.
  • Place matters, direct investment in neighbourhoods, particularly neighbourhoods of colour is necessary, trickle down particularly into these neighbourhoods cannot be relied upon.
  • Systemic change, the current system destroys the environment and produces inequalities so it’s necessary to move beyond amelioration to build systems that produce different outcomes.

Howard concluded, with the properly Marxist-humanist insight, “people made our systems, we can remake them” (or, “if there’s been a way to build it, there’ll be a way to destroy it, things are not all that out of control”).

The Alternatives: how Preston took back control – podcast

Aditya Chakrabortty
The Guardian

Presented by  and produced by  and The Alternatives: how Preston took back control – podcast. The Guardian looks at the work of the Democracy Collaborative in Preston England: 

To kick off, we hear from Preston city councillor Matthew Brown about the “Preston model”, a new approach to local procurement inspired by a similar initiative in Cleveland, Ohio. In a time of austerity and cuts, how is it that Preston is now seeing an extra £75m being spent in the city?

Listen to the podcast at the Guardian 

Worker cooperatives offer real alternatives to Trump’s retrograde economic vision

Sara Aziza
Waging Nonviolence

Sara Aziza writes in Waging Nonviolence: Worker cooperatives offer real alternatives to Trump’s retrograde economic vision. In this article she highlights the work of the Democracy Collaborative's report Worker Cooperatives: Pathway to Scale and the Democracy Collaborative's strategy and proposals for reducing economic inequality: 

“The field of worker co-op development is just beginning to create the infrastructure and knowledge base needed to increase its scale and impact,” wrote Hilary Abell in “Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale,” an extensive report for the Democracy Collaborative, a research and advocacy institute dedicated to progressive economics.

Read more in Waging Nonviolence