Incubation of Worker Cooperatives:
We are committed to launching and growing worker cooperatives–collectively owned, local businesses–that create dignified work and living wages among those most marginalized in our society. These cooperatives provide our communities greater economic security, give workers greater control over their lives and working conditions, create opportunities for all to contribute their fullest potential, and form the basis of a new vision of economic democracy.
Creation of Affordable Cooperative Housing Models:
Our cities face a dramatic shortage of quality, affordable housing. Intense real estate development, especially in urban centers, is displacing low-income predominantly African-American and Latino residents to the periphery, weakening the stability and security of communities. We are supporting the formation of affordable housing cooperatives that move beyond the often inadequate dichotomous option of renting unaffordable and substandard housing, or taking on debt to individually own a home.
For our communities to thrive, our young people must thrive, and for our young people to thrive, our communities must thrive. We believe we must move beyond the conventional societal approaches toward low-income youth and youth of color—that of neglect, criminalization, and imposition of obedience to structures of reward and punishment. And we must move beyond the conventional exhortation for youth to escape marginalization through elusive personal success and instead offer the spaces and support through with young people in our communities directly create the solutions and institutions that guaranteed the well-being of themselves and their entire community. We work with youth through a youth curriculum integrated with our other community institution building work (around housing, work, food and justice), which aims to provide the basic stability necessary to build relationships and collective success.
Community Health and Ecology:
We understand that societal structures can help promote or hinder the health and well being of individuals, families, and communities. Together we are examining the various determinants of health and increasing people’s role as central actors in collectively defining what is needed to live well and healthily, and how to create and change the structures to guarantee our communities thrive. We are creating spaces to share knowledge, experimenting with and developing models to increase access to quality healthcare, and connecting these efforts to initiatives for accessing healthy food, social connection and meaning, dignified work, and stable housing.
Food Systems and Sustainability:
We need a food system that nourishes our bodies, complements the ecosystem, and strengthens economic democracy. Not only is wholesome and healthy food too often unaffordable and inaccessible, the dominant food system intensely reinforces environmental racism, worker exploitation, and community displacement. In collaboration with community members and farmworkers from the rural US south and rural Latin America, we are cultivating community gardens and cooperative farms to re-envision and re-organize our food and community relationships.
Community Defense and Justice:
In the face of increasing policing and incarceration, we seek to create alternative paths to ensure justice and community-well-being. We are dedicated to increasing the tools and resources available for communities to defend their rights. This includes research and analysis on the function and implementation of laws and policies and how they affect our communities, creating educational spaces to discuss these problems, increasing access to free and affordable legal services, offering know-your-rights workshops, training of young people and community members to be legal observers and promoters, and creating the mechanisms by which our own communities can resolve conflicts and problems.