Rethink Our Democracy
Retake Our Democracy is forming a 501-c-3, Rethink Our Democracy. It will become the research and education arm of Retake Our Democracy. We have begun a deep exploration of what Rethink strategies we might advance, but the initial purpose is clear: We want to start by researching and developing language that articulates how most New Mexicans and most Americans have so many shared interests and needs and how the same corporate interests are so adept at dividing us. We need to find common language to bridge the urban-rural divide and liberal-conservative divide. We find ourselves in too many conflicts when we should be united in advancing our shared interests.
Rethink’s second purpose is to use research we have conducted and develop partnerships with other organizations, jurisdictions, and communities to test those ideas in real-world pilot projects designed to demonstrate the justice and efficacy of those ideas and the projects that manifest them.
The focus of Rethink pilot projects will be to foster “community wealth building,” e.g. building local businesses and homegrown regional alliances that foster local economic prosperity and local economic vitality, without relying upon the chain and box store industries who extract community wealth.
Roxanne and I had an illuminating conversation last night. We were talking about local business activity and noted, for example, that there a very few local pizza places: all Dominoes, Round Tables, Pizza Huts, etc. You could consider just about every other industry you can think of and the same pattern applies. You don’t go to the local drug store, you go to CVS or Walgreen’s. You don’t go to a local grocery store, you go to Albertson’s or Target. All of these chains use local labor, generally at low wages, and then extract their profits from the community.
We want to rethink this dynamic and explore ways of developing pilot projects where workers have a significant role in managing and even owning those businesses. Indeed, one of the other important elements we will want to incorporate into these pilots would democratize the workplace by creating worker-owned cooperatives or other business structures that include employee direction of the work and work conditions.
As luck would have it, The Democracy Collaborative has been conducting research and offering technical assistance to communities to support an array of pilot projects for some time and they have been a constant resource. We are scheduled to meet with them early next month. The passage from one of their recent reports aptly describes the kind of pilot projects that Rethink will be seeking to develop.
“The Democracy Collaborative fosters ways to intentionally promote “community wealth building” (CWB)—a systems approach to local economic development that advances collaborative, inclusive, sustainable, and democratically controlled local economies, with the aim of addressing the root causes of poverty and economic inequality. This approach deploys a range of models, including worker cooperatives, community land trusts, community development finance institutions, anchor institution strategies, municipal and local enterprise, participatory planning and budgeting, and alternativeFrom The Democracy Collaborative: “An Indigenous Approach to
financing, all with the goal of creating a more democratic economy, built on broad-based ownership of—and participation in—the economy. Community wealth building is economic system change starting at the local level.”
Community Wealth Building: A Lakota translation”
We will keep you posted on how Rethink Our Democracy evolves. If you are interested in being involved in early discussions, please write to us at RetakeResponse@gmail.com. And feel free to comment below if you have ideas or a reaction.
In Solidarity and Hope,
Paul and Roxanne
Categories: Healthcare & Coverage