Monday, May 23, 2011

PODER Jumps Head-First into the Solidarity Economy

PODER, an SF-based social and environmental justice organization, is initiating one of a handful of projects in the US bridging social justice work with building economic alternatives. They are actively working to develop a time exchange program with BACE Timebank, want to incubate worker cooperatives through workforce development, and helped host an event on participatory budgeting.

Their Mission Statement:
PODER is a grassroots, environmental justice organization based in San Francisco’s Mission District. PODER’s mission is to organize with Mission residents to work on local solutions to issues facing low income communities and communities of color. PODER believes that the solutions to community problems depend on the active of all people in decision-making processes. Improvements to our neighborhood must be made through collective social action to bring about social, economic and environmental justice.

From PODER's Website:

The Economy In The Hands of the People
“It’s really going to happen!” said Sofia at a recent membership meeting, “El semillero is going to help take care of some of our basic needs and reclaim the values that have been lost by the daily grind of this economy”. Sofia is part of PODER’s Cooperative Circle Action Team, which has spent the last 6 months exploring and discussing U.S. and international-based examples of economic projects that incorporate principles of equity, solidarity, autonomy, reciprocity and a vision for social justice. Basically, initiatives where people are taking the economy and putting it in the hands of the people.

After months of thought-provoking conversations, laid back house meetings and lots of take-out Arabic food, team members have crafted together a new project called El Semillero (where seeds sprout). It’s a new way of mutual help, especially economic help. ”El Semillero" will work as a platform to support various PODER member’s projects. The first Project will be barter or (time-based currency). Barter (time-based currency) is an exchange system of services for time. In our barter the currency is not traditional money but a measure of time, for instance, the work per hour. It is an exchange system of goods and services or favors for favors.

During these hard times we think that this Project will help us retake the economy, so that we can take care of our basic necessities; foster social relationships, develop abilities, improve team work, and it will establish methods for our own sustainability. Hang with us as we launch this project in the next few months.

A Workforce Center By the People & For the People
Imagine you work where you love, you and others own where you work, and your workplace is a force to strengthen your community. These are the kinds of ideas taking hold in neighborhoods like the Excelsior in District 11. Tired of laboring in dead-end jobs through low wage work or under the table, PODER members have been coming together to share bold ideas for a new Workforce Center in the District.

This Center could provide lifelong economic opportunities for our communities using home-grown strategies that fit our neighborhoods. The Center would provide multilingual workers’ rights dialogue and education, links to jobs created with our public dollars, support for the creation of microenterprises and worker owned businesses, and advanced training in careers that strengthen and rebuild our communities.

D11 Workforce By & For the Peeps

Doing Better by Working Together: Solidarity Economy Part 1 & 2
Wednesday, April 20

Wednesday, May 4

@ The Funhouse, 4398 Mission St. (Excelsior District)

Themes To Explore:

How the economy shifted from being people-based to profit-driven
How everyday people & their organizations are building a better economy that is bottom-up, meets social needs and fosters community resiliency
How are grassroots groups incorporating solidarity economy strategies into their community organizing (worker cooperatives, time banks, housing cooperatives, urban agriculture, etc…)
Envisioning the economy solutions we want in our community & how to create them

Together with our neighborhood allies the Filipino Community Center and Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, we are leading a community planning process, or Consulta Popular, to design a Center that truly meets the needs in our neighborhoods. Special thanks go out to our District Supervisor John Avalos for his office’s support and leadership in helping our community to develop a healthy and beneficial collaborative relationship with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

Building from the community and workers’ experiences, we are planting seeds, watering them with ideas, love, and organizing to create a place where our community can bring its talents, life dreams, and skills to build a strong, local economy.

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