Another economy. One built from the ground up by democratically owned organizations like cooperatives, community land trusts, and municipal institutions - The Cooperative Economy. Gar Alperovitz, democracycollaborative.org.Orion magazine. May 2014
Interview Extracts: A worker-owned company, or cooperative, is essentially a one-person one-vote, member-owned and -controlled economic institution or business like agricultural co-ops, insurance co-ops, food co-ops, housing co-ops, health-care co-ops, artist co-ops, electrical co-ops, credit unions, and many more.
Forms other than cooperatives —from employee stock ownership plans to municipal enterprises and community land trusts.
Municipal enterprises—or businesses owned by local governments—are a larger-scale form of democratized ownership. Local governments often operate utility companies, help build telecommunications and internet infrastructure, and invest in mass transit. Increasingly, city governments have turned to these enterprises to promote local jobs and economic stability.
Land trusts are a third form. Essentially nonprofit corporations, they own housing and other property in ways that prevent destructive gentrification and support low-income housing.
Then a .. complex of worker owned companies
eg,: the Evergreen Cooperatives. Evergreen is not a collection of small co-ops; these are significant scale companies linked together with a nonprofit community corporation, and they employ many local people. The largest urban greenhouse in the United States, Green City Growers Cooperative, is one of the companies in the complex, and it’s capable of producing 3 million heads of lettuce a year, plus other greens. There’s also Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, which is an industrial scale laundry serving hospitals and nursing homes in the area; they’re housed in a LEED-certified building and use about a third of the heat and a third of the water of ordinary laundries. And there’s a solar installation company, Evergreen Energy Solutions, which employs men and women from inner-city Cleveland and recently installed a forty-two-kilowatt solar unit on the roof of the Cleveland Clinic. In the middle of this very poor neighborhood, there are two major hospitals. The Cleveland Clinic is one; University Hospitals, the other one, is attached to Case Western Reserve University. In this model, those big, quasi-public institutions are called “anchor institutions.” Unlike major corporations, they don’t get up and leave; they’re anchored to their neighborhoods, and they drive the local economy.
In general, as these co-op complexes group together, and get more sophisticated, they also become better able to withstand pressure from the market economy. A stable market also means that growth isn’t a requirement, which is important in terms of environmental sustainability.
In contrast to corporations, which have every interest in cutting costs wherever possible, locally rooted cooperative institutions are inherently responsible to people and place. They give local people a stake in the enterprise, which means that the health of the community comes first. Local people have good jobs, and the land, air, and water are treated with care.
“evolutionary reconstruction” : reconstruction of a culture of community in this country. Neither simple reform of old institutions nor “revolution.” And that’s a project that depends not only on local-level work, but also on institution building and long-term cultural change.
Developing a democratically oriented alternative to capitalism can’t be done overnight. What we’re seeing is the prehistory, possibly, of the next great change, in which a movement is built from the grassroots that becomes the foundation of a new era.