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Building the Solidarity Economy: A Post Capitalism Conference

By: Nerissa Moran

Workshops on permaculture, public banking systems and the opposition of big corporations gave students optimism for the future after attending the Post Capitalism Solidarity Economy Conference, held in Humboldt State’s Kate Buchanan Room last weekend.

More than 250 people including students, professors, activists and community leaders attended a range of workshops sponsored by Cooperation Humboldt on the nuts and bolts of building a more just, sustainable society.

Presentations displayed work that is currently going on in Humboldt, like building a public bank, using permaculture to turn lawns into gardens, cooperative housing solutions and more.

HSU student Oscar Mogollon said people were openly optimistic and happy they attended, because they could see a transition in Humboldt that’s already happening. Mogollon said the conference enabled him to see the pieces of the puzzle coming together.

“It is very powerful to know that there is support for the change to happen,” Mogollon said. “We need that change now because climate breakdown will be on our soil, on our coastline, in the next 12 to 15 years.”

Political science and philosophy double major Johnny Ferdon was always interested in developing community outside of capitalism. He got more than he expected from the conference.

“I found tons of people making a world outside of capitalism, more than I expected to meet at the conference,” Ferdon said. “The Plenary Session was super awesome. It laid the general framework for the workshops.”

Ferdon was personally excited about the Permaculture workshop with local expert Marlon Gil, and Own Yourself: Worker-Owned Co-ops, led by Cooperation Humboldt Member Caroline Griffith and Edge Caliber Owner Danny Kelley.

Ferdon reserved words of deep praise for the workshop led by Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson, a deep dive into building a solidarity economy in Mississippi.

“It is possible to become paralyzed by having a government not favorable to what we want to do,” Ferdon said. “Akuno shared the experience of building Cooperation Jackson while being surrounded by hostile forces. He gave us examples of how much work can be done and examples that teach us not to rely on the state.”

HSU student Emily Mossman Smiley was also happy that she attended the workshops. She was especially inspired by the idea of a public bank.

“The only state-owned public bank in the country, the Bank of North Dakota, was the only bank during the 2008 crash that was able to maintain stability while the rest of the banks needed to be bailed out,” Mossman said.

Mossman said the presentation was so informative, “It was enough to light a fire under my ass to push for public banking in California.”

“While public banking is not a silver bullet, it will enable the citizens of California to keep capital within their communities and make it serve the community as opposed to serving the big corporations that are crushing us,” Mossman said.

Cooperation Humboldt Co-founder David Cobb said the conference brought together movement through leaders who shared best practices for creating a new world within the exterior of the old.

I am grateful for them, and for the members of the community who came together to learn from and inspire each other to actually build that world,” Cobb said.

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