By Danilo Valladares
SolidarityEconomy.net via IPS
GUATEMALA CITY, Oct 8 2012 (IPS) - “Our economic situation improved a great deal because we obtained more income for our families” as a result of setting up a social enterprise, Matilde García, who makes fashion jewellery in the municipality of Pastores, 60 km west of the capital of Guatemala, told IPS.
“Now we send our children to school in the urban area and we can pay for their transport and food,” said this proud mother of three, who gave up working as a domestic employee with a monthly wage of about 40 dollars to set up a small-scale factory of necklaces, bracelets and fashion accessories employing 25 women.
Social entrepreneurship and cooperatives are offering rural families the opportunity to generate income in Guatemala, where 54 percent of the country’s 15 million people live in poverty and 13 percent in extreme poverty, especially in areas where most of the population is indigenous, according to the state National Survey of Living Conditions of 2011.(more...)
SolidarityEconomy.net via LaCrosse Tribune
CASHTON, WIS. — Wisconsin’s first community wind project is now up and running in Cashton.
A joint project of Organic Valley and Gundersen Lutheran’s Envision program, the Cashton Greens Wind Farm features two wind turbines expected to generate nearly 5 megawatts of energy for Cashton’s power grid — enough to power 1,000 homes each year.
The energy produced with the $10.5 million project will more than offset electricity used at Organic Valley’s Cashton Distribution Center and its La Farge headquarters facilities, and it represents about five percent of Gundersen’s energy independence goal.
As developers and owners of the wind farm, Organic Valley and Gundersen will receive income per kilowatt hour generated. Organic Valley will buy back its portion of energy to offset its footprint through a renewable energy contract with the villages of Cashton and La Farge.(more...)
By Beth Buczynski
SolidarityEconomy.net via Common Dreams
The news that a city will be getting a new Walmart often evokes a mixture of dread, anger, and apathy from its residents.
The global giant has captured a huge portion of the discount retail market share, claiming it helps people "live better" thanks to absurdly low prices. Of course, Walmart's low prices are only possible because of low standards of living, low wages paid to those in its supply chain, and low levels of concern for it own employees, but I digress.
In recent years, there's been something of a grassroots backlash against Wal-Mart Inc., as people have started to realize the damage a single Walmart can do to the small businesses that make up a local economy. In a few cases, there's even been news of Walmart stores closing, effectively run out of town by citizens strongly opposed to its economic, environmental, and social practices.
While this represents a win for the citizens who organized the ouster, it creates an equally big challenge. Namely, what does one do with the cavernous commercial space left behind by an abandoned Walmart?
The citizens of McAllen, Texas, a city of about 130,000 located in the southernmost tip of the state, experienced just such a vaccum after Walmart closed and then abandoned a 124,500 sq. foot space. Instead of searching for another big box retailer to take it's place, the City decided to reclaim the space as a public library.
Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. of Minneapolis were selected to design the interior of the building which is about the size of 2 1/2 football fields. After stripping out all the old walls, shelves, and ceiling tiles, the space was given a fresh coat of paint and major upgrade.
The cavernous space now houses an auditorium, computers lab, classrooms and meeting rooms, and adult and teen reading lounges — not to mention hundreds of thousands of books -- earning it the title of the largest single-story library location in the U.S.
The best part of this entire transformation story is that following the re-launch of the library, new user registration increased by 23 percent. That means a lot of people were talking, learning, sharing, and supporting their community instead of simply buying a giant box of laundry soap or cheap patio furniture made in China. And that's what I call upcycling for the win. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Beth Buczynski is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. Stay in touch with Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog and @GoneCoworking
By Wayne Ellwood
SolidarityEconomy.net via The New Internationalist
In the eyes of the mainstream media and the high priests of the free market, Argentina just doesn’t get it.
This past May, the country was savaged by the international business press for nationalizing the Spanish-owned oil company, YPF. Scarcely mentioned was the fact that Argentina’s oil and gas industry was only ‘privatized’ in the late-1990s under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other hardline enforcers of then fashionable neoliberal economic policies. Like many countries around the world, Argentina’s oil industry used to be state-owned.
Back in 2001, the knives were out again. After years of enforced austerity and ‘structural adjustment’ the resource-rich South American country was awash in debt, crippling inflation, staggering unemployment and negative economic growth. (Notice any parallels with present day Greece and Spain?)
The IMF’s prescription for setting the economy right – ‘flexible’ labour conditions, deregulation, loosening of capital controls, privatization of state-owned assets, devaluation of the national currency – only made things worse.
With inflation raging and tens of thousands of workers on the streets, the government finally called it quits, defaulting on its debt and devaluing its currency. Predictably, the kingpins of global finance went ballistic, warning that Argentina would sink into penury and chaos.
It didn’t happen. Over the next decade the country’s GDP grew by nearly 90 per cent, the fastest in Latin America. Poverty fell and employment rose steadily while government spending on social services slowly increased.
Many factors contributed to this astounding turnaround, including the determination of Argentineans to strike an independent economic course not reliant on the whims of foreign capital.
But a significant part of its success is rooted in Argentina’s rich history of co-operatives. Waves of Jewish and Italian immigrants brought the co-operative vision with them during the early 20th century. Co-ops were well established, especially in agriculture, prior to the financial and political meltdown in 2001. According to the International Co-operative Association (ICA), nearly a quarter of the South American country’s 40 million people are linked directly or indirectly to co-operatives and mutual societies.(more...)
Written by Kali Akuno
For the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
A major progressive initiative is underway in Jackson, Mississippi. This initiative demonstrates tremendous promise and potential in making a major contribution towards improving the overall quality of life of the people of Jackson, Mississippi, particularly people of African descent. This initiative is the Jackson Plan and it is being spearheaded by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) and the Jackson People’s Assembly.
The Jackson Plan is an initiative to apply many of the best practices in the promotion of participatory democracy, solidarity economy, and sustainable development and combine them with progressive community organizing and electoral politics. The objectives of the Jackson Plan are to deepen democracy in Mississippi and to build a vibrant, people centered solidarity economy in Jackson and throughout the state of Mississippi that empowers Black and other oppressed peoples in the state.
The Jackson Plan has many local, national and international antecedents, but it is fundamentally the brain child of the Jackson People’s Assembly. The Jackson People’s Assembly is the product of the Mississippi Disaster Relief Coalition (MSDRC) that was spearheaded by MXGM in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of Gulf Coast communities in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas. Between 2006 and 2008, this coalition expanded and transformed itself into the Jackson People’s Assembly. In 2009, MXGM and the People’s Assembly were able to elect human rights lawyer and MXGM co-founder Chokwe Lumumba to the Jackson City Council representing Ward 2.
What follows is a brief presentation of the Jackson Plan as an initiative to build a base of autonomous power in Jackson that can serve as a catalyst for the attainment of Black self-determination and the democratic transformation of the economy.
Program or Pillars
The J – K Plan has three fundamental programmatic components that are designed to build a mass base with the political clarity, organizational capacity, and material self-sufficiency to advance core objectives of the plan. The three fundamental programmatic components are:
Building People’s Assemblies Building a Network of Progressive Political Candidates Building a broad based Solidarity Economy(more...)
SolidarityEconomy.net via DailyKOS
1941, Office of the Archbishop of Spain:
"They just released you?" Archbishop Balbino Oliver eyed the priest standing before his desk with suspicion. Something about the young man unsettled him.
"I believe it was in error. They did not realize I had written so much against Franco. When God spared my life, I enrolled in the seminary."
He possessed humility. Good. Yet something about the eyes... "Even under the care of the church, Franco may not let you go so easily."
"Yes, it is best if I left Spain. I could continue my writing in Belgium. I think I can..."
"God granted you a precious gift, my son." The Bishop leaned back, considering. His left eye. That was it. "It would be unwise to waste the gift with further agitation of forces beyond your control." Yes, his left eye stared back slightly wider, giving him a permanently quizzical expression. Father Bertolli had mentioned him losing his eye in an accident.
"But the work I've been doing..."
"Is against Church official policy." The Archbishop leaned forward to study the documents the priest had presented him. "You are Basque, no?"
"Yes, but in Belgium..."
"Father Tillous requested an assistant in Mondragon, only 50 miles from where you grew up. Franco is unlikely to bother you, there."
"Out there, he is unlikely to need to." The young man bowed his head curtly, murmuring the obligatory goodbye.(more...)
By Aaron Bartley
SolidarityEconomy.net via Huffington Post
May 7, 2012 - While the oil and gas lobby dominates at the federal level, communities across the United States are making great strides in gaining control of energy production.
They are doing so by advancing an impressive range of commercial-scale renewable projects that are heating homes and powering local businesses from Massachusetts to Oregon.
Municipal utilities, community-based co-ops, universities and other nonprofit institutions in both rural and urban settings are executing wind, solar, geothermal and biomass developments.
When combined with the innovative grassroots efforts to retrofit existing buildings for conservation purposes, these renewable energy production programs are placing community-led efforts at the forefront of American innovation. In the process, they are creating a blueprint that could be used to scale-up nationally when and if we develop a rational Federal energy policy fostering both the growth of the renewable sector and democratization of production on the German model.
In Hull, Mass., residents began a campaign to build large-scale wind turbines in 1996. The first turbine was completed in late 2001 and has produced more than 12 million kilowatts to date. A second, larger turbine, known as Hull II, was erected on top of the town's former landfill in 2006 and in its first year produced enough electricity to power all of the Hull's street lights while providing the town with an additional $150,000 from the sale of excess electricity. Hull's two turbines now generate enough electricity to power 1,100 homes as well as the town's street and traffic lights.
Similar community-controlled wind projects have sprouted up across the state of Iowa, placing seven municipalities and about a dozen school districts in control of their energy destinies. The 1.65 megawatt wind farm at Iowa Lakes Community College is among the largest of these community-developed projects, built in conjunction with the ILCC's launch of the first accredited wind turbine training program in the nation.
The Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, which operates independently of the college, provides power to more than 12,000 member-owners in eight rural Iowa counties and has developed two wind farms that generate more than 21 megawatts, projects for which it was named wind cooperative of the year by the DOE.(more...)
By Noam Chomsky
SolidarityEconomy.net via The Nation
May 8, 2012 - The Occupy movement has been an extremely exciting development. Unprecedented, in fact. There’s never been anything like it that I can think of. If the bonds and associations it has established can be sustained through a long, dark period ahead—because victory won’t come quickly—it could prove a significant moment in American history.
The fact that the Occupy movement is unprecedented is quite appropriate. After all, it’s an unprecedented era and has been so since the 1970s, which marked a major turning point in American history. For centuries, since the country began, it had been a developing society, and not always in very pretty ways. That’s another story, but the general progress was toward wealth, industrialization, development and hope. There was a pretty constant expectation that it was going to go on like this. That was true even in very dark times.
I’m just old enough to remember the Great Depression. After the first few years, by the mid-1930s—although the situation was objectively much harsher than it is today—nevertheless, the spirit was quite different. There was a sense that “we’re gonna get out of it,” even among unemployed people, including a lot of my relatives, a sense that “it will get better.”
There was militant labor union organizing going on, especially from the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations). It was getting to the point of sit-down strikes, which are frightening to the business world—you could see it in the business press at the time—because a sit-down strike is just a step before taking over the factory and running it yourself. The idea of worker takeovers is something which is, incidentally, very much on the agenda today, and we should keep it in mind. Also New Deal legislation was beginning to come in as a result of popular pressure. Despite the hard times, there was a sense that, somehow, “we’re gonna get out of it.”
It’s quite different now. For many people in the United States, there’s a pervasive sense of hopelessness, sometimes despair. I think it’s quite new in American history. And it has an objective basis.
On the Working Class
In the 1930s, unemployed working people could anticipate that their jobs would come back. If you’re a worker in manufacturing today—the current level of unemployment there is approximately like the Depression—and current tendencies persist, those jobs aren’t going to come back.
The change took place in the 1970s. There are a lot of reasons for it. One of the underlying factors, discussed mainly by economic historian Robert Brenner, was the falling rate of profit in manufacturing. There were other factors. It led to major changes in the economy—a reversal of several hundred years of progress towards industrialization and development that turned into a process of de-industrialization and de-development. Of course, manufacturing production continued overseas very profitably, but it’s no good for the work force.(more...)
[SolidarityEconomy.net is proudly powered by WordPress.]