Cities Building Community Wealth, by Marjorie Kelly and Sarah McKinley
In an era of persistent urban inequality and chronic unemployment disproportionately impacting historically marginalized communities and communities of color, new alternatives to the traditional economic development strategies that have failed to bring broad and evenly distributed prosperity to America’s cities are clearly needed. The Democracy Collaborative’s new report, Cities Building Community Wealth, responds to this challenge by highlighting best practices in inclusive innovation from twenty cities across the country, and offering a unified vision of the underlying new paradigm of community focused economic development. Cities Building Community Wealth is available as a free PDF download; if you’d like to order printed copies, either for yourself or to distribute to local elected officials and community stakeholders, click here (bulk rates available).
Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practices,
By Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard
In Collective Courage, Jessica Gordon Nembhard chronicles African American cooperative business ownership and its place in the movements for Black civil rights and economic equality. Not since W. E. B. Du Bois’s 1907 Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans has there been a full-length, nationwide study of African American cooperatives. Collective Courage extends that story into the twenty-first century. Many of the players are well known in the history of the African American experience: Du Bois, A. Philip Randolph and the Ladies’ Auxiliary to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Jo Baker, George Schuyler and the Young Negroes’ Co-operative League, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panther Party
To tell the story, Gordon Nembhard uses a variety of newspapers, period magazines, and journals; co-ops’ articles of incorporation, minutes from annual meetings, newsletters, budgets, and income statements; and scholarly books, memoirs, and biographies. These sources reveal the achievements and challenges of Black co-ops, collective economic action, and social entrepreneurship. Gordon Nembhard finds that African Americans, as well as other people of color and low-income people, have benefitted greatly from cooperative ownership and democratic economic participation throughout the nation’s history.
Jessica Gordon Nembhard is Associate Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development in the Department of Africana Studies at John Jay College, City University of New York.
The Cooperative Solution: How the United States can tame recession, reduce inequality, and protect the environment,
by E.G. Nadeau
This book illustrates the potential for cooperatives — organizations that are owned and democratically controlled by the people they serve — to infuse the US economy with the basic value of democracy and to provide citizens with a means to effectively address the shortcomings of the market-driven economy. The book makes the case that cooperatives are the solution to many of the major economic, social, and environmental problems in the United States today. The basic tenet of the essay is that co-ops are democratically controlled and are motivated primarily by the goal of providing services to their members, not by generating profits for their owners and investors. As a result of this democratic, services-first design, co-ops are much more likely to avoid the negative consequences of economic institutions primarily driven by the quest for ever-increasing profits. This latter model of economic development has led to over 200 years of economic instability, inequality, and environmental degradation in the United States. In the coming decades, co-ops can lead the way to undoing these fundamental flaws in our economic system.
Building Co-operative Power: Stories from worker co-operatives in the Connecticut River Valley,
by Janelle Cornwell, Michael Johnson and Adam Trott with Julie Graham
Building Co-operative Power explores strategies from the Connecticut River Valley as a guide and inspiration for developing a regional co-operative economy based on a vibrant and engaged worker co-op sector. It speaks directly to obstacles and opportunities for making worker co-operatives an increasingly important part of the U.S. economy. The authors relay practical insights on co-op governance, communication, conflict and inter-cooperation. These are highlighted by cautionary tales and sagas of personal transformation.
Within hours of being given Building Co-operative Power I was devouring its content. The book is beautifully written, attractively presented and describes the impactful journey of worker cooperatives throughout the Connecticut River Valley. The authors honestly detail a number of the issues such as decision making that ask ordinary people to think differently about power.
The book does a good job of highlighting what I call “clustering” which is the act of many co-ops purposefully cooperating together within a region. “Clustering” is at the heart of the success of cooperatives in Mondragon in Spain, Emilia Romagna in Italy and the early beginnings of the modern co-op movement in Rochdale, England.
What is most valuable about the book is that it uses stories about real worker co-operatives in today’s America to make its case. And in doing so it is a welcome gift to the writing about co-operatives that are changing the world in which we live into the world we want to live in. David J. Thompson, President, Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation; author of Weavers of Dreams: Founders of the Modern Cooperative Movement. Purchase
Weavers of Dreams: Founders of the Modern Cooperative Movement
By David J. Thompson
“Weavers of Dreams” tells the story of the revolutionary era in which the Rochdale Pioneers started their cooperative store. Set at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the book calls on the literary observations of Dickens, Disraeli, Elizabeth Gaskell, D.H. Lawrence, Marx and other key writers if the times. Covered are the riots, revolts and reforms of a nation undergoing immense change; cooperatives as a national economic force, the critical role of the Co-operative Women’s Guild, the impact of cooperative education, and the Pioneers commitment to building community. “Weavers of Dreams” has a Greeting from Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Cooperative, a Welcome Alan Godson, Mayor of Rochdale and. a forward by Bruce Thordarson, Director General of the International Cooperative Alliance (1988-2000) plus numerous quotes about the book. “Weavers of Dreams” is updated with new segments and present day statistics.
For All The People: Uncovering The Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America,
By John Curl
Seeking to reclaim a history that has remained largely ignored by historians, this dramatic and stirring account examines each of the definitive American cooperative movements for social change—farmer, union, consumer, and communalist—that have been all but erased from collective memory. With an expansive sweep and breathtaking detail, this scholarly yet eminently readable chronicle follows the American worker from the colonial workshop to the modern mass-assembly line, from the family farm to the corporate hierarchy, ultimately painting a vivid panorama of those who built the United States and those who will shape its future. This second edition contains a new introduction by Ishmael Reed, a new preface by the author that discusses cooperatives in the Great Recession of 2008 and their future in the 21st century, and a new chapter on the role co-ops played in the food revolution of the 1970s.