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Worker Cooperatives

Posted by on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 in Current Students, .

2nd year CDA students Austin Sauerbrei and Patrick Cate have developed an independent study in which they visited various worker cooperatives throughout the Eastern United States. At the heart of their effort is a renewed interest in the power of alternative economies, including cooperatives, to respond to the increasing trauma of economic distress. Building upon a rich history of collective work, an increasing number of alternative economic models have sprung up in recent years. Sauerbrei and Cate see these reemerging concepts as a source of hope and possibility in the midst of a bleak political environment and they hope to learn from those who are putting ideas into action.

Sauerbrei formed the idea last year and enlisted fellow CDA colleague Patrick Cate. The independent study revolved around a diverse list of historical and theoretical readings including texts such as “Collective Courage: A History of African-American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice” by Jessica Gordon-Nembhard and “A Post Capitalist Politics” by J.K. Gibson-Graham. To compliment these and other readings, Sauerbrei and Cate will be conducting on the ground research through visits to active cooperative communities including the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (FSC) in Epes, AL, and the New Work, New Culture Movement in Detroit, MI. The FSC is a sixty-year-old educational institute that was founded by African-American farmers in the South to support the formation of rural cooperatives.

Created in response to racism and the harsh economic climate, the federation has managed to train thousands in cooperative enterprise development. The New Work, New Culture movement was similarly founded in Michigan over the past 15 years out of the historic economic crisis in Motor City, and hosts conferences as well as supporting new and local diverse economies.



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