In this era of ecological and economic crisis, mired in political deadlock, it’s clear that the solutions to the major problems we face will not come from above. So how can we set about building a better world in the here and now? A series of effective, ground up economic tecnhiques have proven themselves capable of changing the way we think about our world and our daily lives. Co-ops, CSAs, ride shares, urban gardens, fair trade organizations, community mutual aid, squats, alternate currencies and a whole other series of strategies have already begun building fairer, greener communities. These are common sharing strategies, but when deployed using principles of democratic control and social justice, they make up the Solidarity Economy.
The Solidarity Economy is about building ground-up, direct-democratic organizations that can meet the needs of the community with attention paid to all ends of the economic process: from production to distribution to consumption. The U.S Solidarity Economy Network defines the Solidarity Economy as “an alternative development framework that is grounded in practice and the in the principles of: solidarity, mutualism, and cooperation; equity in all dimensions (race/ethnicity/ nationality, class, gender, LGBTQ); social well-being over profit and the unfettered rule of the market; sustainability; social and economic democracy; and pluralism, allowing for different forms in different contexts, open to continual change and driven from the bottom-up.”
I’m going to be blogging regularly about the Solidarity Economy as time goes on. As a first step, I’ve compiled a number of valuable web resources for learning about and participating in Solidarity Economies.
•The US Solidarity Economy Network: This project is a large network connecting different organizations that use Solidarity Economy practices. Its blog is also a great resource for news about new projects and exciting victories.
•Solidarity NYC: A great resource for people living in New York City, it lists and maps different businesses within New York’s burgeoning Solidarity Economy and also features a thorough theoretical library.
•The Community Economies Collective has a more academic focus, and is a great site for theoretical reflections on the Solidarity Economy. It also has more of a global focus, and features many projects from Europe, South East Asia and Australia
•ALOE (Responsible Alliance for a Plural and Solidarity Economy) curates academic papers and conferences and also sponsers Solidarity Economy projects.
•Jobs with Justice: An organization focused directly on increasing democratic control within the workplace, jobs with justice fights for workers in traditional businesses
•Freegan.info is a site, based in New York, which gives information about Freegan living, dumpster diving, and community based sharing of free goods.
There are also a number of great articles about the Solidarity Economy.
Other Economies are Possible! By Ethan Miller is an excellent overview of the theoretical background and movement history of the Solidarity Economy.
Building a Solidarity Economy by Annie McShiras, about building a nanny coopeartive
And two excellent articles from shareable:
On the Solidarity Economy, an interview with Mira Luna
Sharing Power: Building a Solidarity Economy by Cheyenna Weber