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Tuesday
Mar182014

Co-op Academy Info Session: Holistic Health in the Bronx

Monday, March 24, 2014
6:00 PM
Nos Quedamos We Stay
754 Melrose Ave, Bronx, NY (map)
 
Interested in starting a cooperative holistic health center in the Bronx. Meet other Bronx-based holistic health practitioners who’ve also been thinking about the same thing. Time to connect with each other and brainstorm what’s possible.

RSVP Today

 

Tuesday
Mar182014

Co-op Academy Info Session: Urban Gardening

Interested in starting a cooperative of community gardens and gardeners in the Bronx. Meet other urban farmers who’ve been thinking about the same thing. Time to connect with each other and brainstorm what’s possible.

Thursday, March 27, 2014
6:00 PM
Nos Quedamos We Stay
754 Melrose Ave, Bronx, NY (map)

 

RSVP Today!

Tuesday
Mar042014

Got a business idea but think you don't have enough time, money, knowledge, connections... to do it?

Got a business idea but think you don’t have enough time, money, knowledge, connections… to do it?

Love the idea of starting a business but can’t stand the idea of being “the Boss”?

Want to start a business that’s “a force for good” in your community?

Got an existing business you want to sell without “selling out”?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these, then join Green Worker Cooperatives for an exciting presentation and discussion on worker-owned cooperative businesses, what they are and how you can start one. Ideas and questions highly encouraged.

Wednesday, March 12 6-7:30pm
At University Neighborhood Housing Program
2751 Grand Concourse (corner of E 196th St, the Bronx).
Take B,D, or 4 train to Kingsbridge Rd.

Tuesday
Mar042014

Ginger Moon Rises to the Top in Business Plan Competition

Ginger Moon, a mother-owned, worker cooperative has made it as a finalist in the Fedex Small Business Grant Competition 2014. Out of thousands of entries from across the country, one hundred small businesses were selected as finalists for a chance to win a total of $50,000 in prizes, including a grand prize of $25,000. Ginger Moon was the only worker cooperative in the competition and gathered over 2,000 votes from its community of supporters, allowing it to move on to the next round.

In 2011, Alexandra Lopez Reitzes, Janvieve Williams Comrie and Maricruz Badia opened Ginger Moon in order to provide much needed emotional, mental and culinary support to pregnant women, women that had just given birth and women that are nursing.  Today their signature service, Food Doulas is all about mothering the mother, and providing her revitalizing and healing foods during pregnancy, childbirth and nursing.

“This is already turning out to be a great year for worker cooperatives. W’re thrilled that Ginger Moon is a finalist in this competition. When one cooperative succeeds, people get inspired, the effects are contagious, and the economy shifts.” Says Omar Freilla, Coordinator at Green Worker Cooperatives.

Ginger Moon went through Green Workers Cooperative renowned Coop-Academy in fall 2012.  The academy is an intensive boot camp for cooperative green businesses.  “Ginger Moon is a business that encourages our clients to eat local and organic whenever possible.  We are establishing relationships with local farms and producers.  Ginger Moon is good for all mothers, including mother earth”, says Maricruz Badia of Ginger Moon.

At the core of this mother-owned business is motherhood.  Between the worker owners there are six children ranging from 10 months to 11 years of age. “Ginger Moon is changing and challenging how work is done.  For example, we have created employment policies through consensus building principles, these policies are in turn good for each of us as owners, both individually and collectively”, says Alexandra Lopez Reitzes of Ginger Moon.

Ginger Moon has been self and crowd funded up until now.  The FedEx Small Business Grant award will allow them to expand services to reach more women by adding a delivery service, ,cooking workshops, and trainings.

Winners of the Fedex Small Business Grant competition will be announced on March 26th, 2014.

 

Tuesday
Mar042014

Over 100 community members come out to NYC City Council Hearing on Worker Cooperatives

By Janvieve Williams Comrie

In a packed room at the New York City council over 100 community members and organizers came together for the first hearing around worker owned cooperatives.  The hearing organized by the Committee on Community Development, Worker Cooperatives- Is This A Model That Can Lift Families Out of Poverty? took place on the 24th of February of the current year. 

While extremely rare, the hearing was provided with translation services provided by Worker Owned Cooperative Caracol. Chairwoman Maria Del Carmen Arroyo publicly recognized that  “the fact that we have an interpreter here today, is telling that we are looking at a population that might issues around language access can be a hindrance or a barrier for populations”.  While not commonly known, more and more immigrants are looking towards forming worker owned cooperatives so that they can make decisions about their livelihood, shape and determine their work environment and how work is done instead of seeking employment from traditional workplaces where they can remain vulnerable to employer’s decisions and control.

According to Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies report Worker Cooperatives for New York City: A Vision for Addressing Income Inequality worker cooperatives have a long history dating back to the industrial revolution and have become an example of workers’ control and democracy in various countries all over the world. Time and time again, worker cooperatives have emerged as a response to economic crisis and severe unemployment when government and/or businesses were unable to respond to the demands of impoverished communities. Low-income communities worldwide have formed worker cooperatives to help employ their communities, improve community infrastructure, and increase basic access to services.

Panelists that gave testimony included Persistent economic barriers- minimum wage and low wage jobs, government economic development project, 8.1% unemployment rate is high as of January 2014.  Opportunity about realignment and reinvestment.  Si Se Puede tripled their wages in 3 years, despite having language barriers.  The South Bronx Artists Cooperative, shared their knowledge of many coops that are locally based so members are able to stay closer to their homes and families improving the quality of life, the education of their children and care for their elders if needed.   They urged the city to recognize worker cooperatives as a valuable tool in job creation and promoting living wages. 

Among some of the recommendations given to the City Councils Committee on Community Development by some of the panelists, including Omar Freilla from Green Worker Cooperative, Noah Franklin from Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies and Christopher Michaels from NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives include:

 

  1. That Mayor Bill di Blasio issue a proclamation to take a stance on worker owned cooperatives and include funding and tools specific for worker owned cooperatives.
  2. To declare Worker Owed Cooperative Month in October, a city wide initiative that includes launching a job program in the districts with the highest poverty rates, further support for New York City existing worker owned cooperatives, and launching city loan funds for worker owned cooperatives.
  3. Fund the development of a dedicated worker cooperative incubator with shared meeting/workspace/training facility in the Bronx. Green Worker Cooperatives and the pioneering nonprofit community development organization We Stay/Nos Quedamos that have been in conversation to develop such a facility within one of Nos Quedamos’ current buildings.
  4. Provide tax incentives and capital funding to worker cooperative businesses.
  5. Make worker cooperatives a preferred contractor for city agencies. This would boost the financial viability of any cooperative and make them attractive to lenders and investors.

 

The hearing went two hours into overtime and community members, worker owners got positive responses from the Council members, a great beginning to a dialogue that will hopefully lead to new policies, new support and infrastructure for existing and new worker owned cooperatives.

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Green Worker Cooperatives is a South-Bronx based organization dedicated to incubating worker-owned green businesses in order to build a strong local economy rooted in democracy and environmental justice. We train and develop worker cooperatives that have a positive environmental impact and enable the transformation of their members and community. www.greenworker.coop