Sunday, March 31, 2013

Resurgence of Cooperatives in the U.S.

Here is the second installment in this series, the first of which was inspired by the New Year in January and this by the New Year in March --yes, that’s right, for millions of people  in this country and around the world, including this writer, the New Year is the Vernal Equinox on March 20-21st. So, Happy New Year & Spring! 

In the first article in this series on Cooperation, I opened with Fareed Zakarias at his Harvard commencement speech, saying: “When we can come together, when we cooperate, when we put aside petty differences, the results are astounding.”  

When we are willing to come together, learn from each other, and cooperate then we truly believe in and practice democracy and are empowered to make things happen and bring about positive change.

Some concrete local examples of this cooperation, which I have personally participated in, include:
  • A small group of about ten concerned community members, in less than two months time, forced a Wall Street mega- firm to fire three senior executives due to the mistreatment by these executives of two workers in its Kennesaw national sales headquarters.
  • A small group of about ten concerned community members forced a national Banking firm to cancel its foreclosure of a local Cobb County home (and this group’s other chapters have accomplished the same result with many homes around the metro).
  • A diverse coalition of concerned community members and groups have been working and making progress with Cobb Law enforcement agencies to rebuild trust with the Brown and Black communities, resulting in an overall decrease of crime and less arrests for minor violations.
  • A diverse coalition of conservative (Tea Party) and liberal groups defeated a proposed State bill to restrict organized protests.
  • And both locally and nationally, the excellent organization, No Labels ( ) is bringing together elected officials from both parties to work on bi-partisan solutions to the gridlock in Washington.  (One of their founders, John Avalon, will be speaking in Atlanta this week.)

Two other areas which we are beginning to address are the judicial and court systems, which are incarcerating all Americans, but especially those of color, at an ever-increasing and alarming rate which is the highest per capita in the industrialized world, and, with the ever widening gap between the poor/middle class and the wealthy, the development of economic alternatives to empower people at all levels.

One such economic alternative is the development of more worker-owned businesses, which are essentially cooperatives.  (To read how Cooperatives have been an essential component of America’s economic development since its inception, and how they are enjoying a resurgence now, see the following articles: ; ; . ) 

Locally, we will be working together with Early Economics ( to do workshops on and help interested people start worker owned businesses.  

(Contact us at if you might like to participate.)

Rich Pellegrino 

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