Books, films, conference updates and more
Books and Films
A new film, Rise, Root, Revolution!, tells the story of the Rise & Root Farm in Chester, New York, and its four women co-founders. An interracial, intergenerational, collectively-owned farm led by Black, white, queer and straight women, Rise & Root is modeling a different approach to farming, one that is fair and just and oriented toward building community power. Rise & Root is challenging the legacy of the early 20th century, in which numerous policies prevented people of color and women from accessing the loans and land needed to farm. Another project is also challenging that legacy, the 40 acre cooperative. In a radio interview with KARE11, the founder explains how the cooperative is helping Black farmers reduce costs through economies of scale and learn from one another to ensure success.
Coop: Made in America, a dossier of worker-owned and consumer coops compiled by Enrico Massetti, has been re-issued. The new edition includes a section on electric cooperatives and how some of these co-ops are bringing broadband internet to their customers as well. The author has also included numbers of video links in the e-book version, giving the reader a chance to hear from cooperators in multiple regions and industries. The stories of worker cooperatives, including the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland and Arizmendi bakeries in the Bay Area, provide a welcome introduction into the cooperative business model and the benefits it brings to members as well as the communities cooperatives serve.
Conferences and Reports
Worker Co-op Conference 2020: This year’s annual Worker Co-op Conference, convened by the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives and the Democracy at Work Institute, was a virtual affair but nonetheless offered a wide range of key note speeches, panel discussions, and workshops. The 1700 attendees heard video messages from progressive lawmakers, including Senator Bernie Sanders, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Ro Khanna, and Mark Pocan. Keynotes from award-winning journalists Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, and Maurice Mitchell, director of the Working Families Party and leader of the Movement for Black Lives, are available online along with other conference highlights.
NCBA CLUSA releases policy report. A report from The Urban Institute, published by National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA) and the Cooperative Development Foundation, proposes four policy goals to build a stronger cooperative sector, positioned to address economic and racial disparities in the U.S. The four goals are to: 1) Level the playing field so cooperatives can compete in the marketplace; 2) Help grow the number cooperatives in underserved markets; 3) Help grow the size and market share of existing cooperatives, and 4) Support and incentivize cooperatives to reach underserved people and communities.
Investment and Growth
The Fund for Employee Ownership has acquired the Cleveland-based Phoenix Coffee Company, which will be transitioning to employee ownership with the support of Evergreen Cooperatives. Phoenix has five retail locations and a roasting facility and is expected to grow as a result of the TFEO investment.
Obran Cooperative, the cooperative holding company in Baltimore, received a $1 million line of credit through the Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy (BRED), a locally-based loan fund that is part of the SEED Commons network. The loan is for the Obran Cooperative subsidiary Appalachian Field Services, which will be using the financing to acquire and renovate rental properties.