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Building the solidarity economy: a post-capitalism conference

HSU Sociology Department invites Kali Akuno, Jerome Scott and Emily Kawano to post-capitalism conference

By: Nerissa Moran

Cooperation Humboldt has teamed up with the HSU Sociology Department to invite Kali Akuno, Executive Director of Cooperation Jackson, along with Jerome Scott of the US Social Forum, and Emily Kawano of the Solidarity Economy Network to sponsor the first-ever Post-Capitalism Conference in Humboldt: Building the Solidarity Economy.

What is a solidarity economy? It has been broadly defined as an economy based on cooperation rather than exploitation, and that prioritizes the welfare of people and planet over profits and blind growth.

Cooperation Humboldt is making food more accessible and our food system more local. They’re planting fruit trees and setting up little free pantries throughout the Eureka area. As part of the national Food Not Lawns effort, they’ve begun transforming front yards, growing food instead of grass.

Tamara McFarland is the co-founder of Cooperation Humboldt.

We believe that food is a fundamental human right, and our food projects aim to put that belief into practice in very tangible ways,” McFarland said.

Now the group is on track to set up several worker-owned cooperatives to further the goal of building a solidarity economy on California’s North Coast – the idea is to meet our needs in harmony with nature without exploiting anyone.

As they say in their mission statement, the group puts “people and planet over profit by prioritizing collaboration over competition and cooperation over domination.”

Cooperation Humboldt is modeled on the solidarity economy principles established by Cooperation Jackson, the pioneer in building community from the economic roots up to the political and cultural branches, and the epicenter of social and economic change in the U.S.

They are building a solidarity economy in Jackson, Mississippi, anchored by a network of cooperatives and worker-owned, democratically self-managed enterprises.

Jerome Scott of the U.S. Social Forum will be talking about the process of how we get from where we are today to a post-capitalist, solidarity economy. First, he explained that the technology has already set the basis for a new economy.

“The transition is mainly a technological revolution,” Scott said. “And that technology has set the stage for the end of capitalism. But only human beings can make the transition to socialism and within that process, race and gender play a role.”

Scott said his objective is to demystify the process. His description of the process of social change ties in directly with the building of worker cooperatives. While the technological revolution is upon us, we must use it to envision that another world is possible. Emily Kawano of the Solidarity Economy Network can explain what that world is beginning to look like inside the co-ops being built.

The conference will be held on campus April 26 and 27, with the opening plenary session taking place on Friday, April 26, at 7 pm in the Kate Buchanan Room.

This session will be followed on Saturday, April 27, by a wide array of workshops (in Siemans Hall at HSU). This will allow us to gain the specific knowledge that comes from the experience of several of the minds and organizers transforming today’s economy while protecting the environment nationwide.

The topics include ‘Solidarity Economy 101,’ ‘Introduction to Permaculture,’ ‘Democratizing Money: Public Banking,’ ‘Imagining a Post-Whiteness Society,’ ‘Humboldt County – Land of the Free,’ and many more. The full schedule will be posted on Cooperation Humboldt’s website.

“We’re so thrilled to be able to bring these experts together to share their wealth of wisdom and experience with those of us on the North Coast working to shift our economy away from exploitation and towards a more cooperative model,” McFarland said. “We know this conference will inspire those in attendance to broaden their conception of what alternative systems can be created.”

David Cobb is also a co-founder of Cooperation Humboldt.

“In addition to the conference, here in Humboldt we are incubating three worker-owned cooperatives, creating a local food forest and advancing public banking and participatory budgeting,” Cobb said.

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