Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives, a Tool for Building a New Democratic Economy, Released

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brian Van Slyke, 708-707-1784; Andrew Stachiw, 860-208-1404

Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives, a Tool for Building a New Democratic Economy, Released

What: Co-opoly, a powerful resource for cultivating democratic communities, comes at a time when people are struggling to envision a new world. This game has been hotly anticipated with pre-orders from around the globe.
Released: November 28, 2011

Northampton, Massachusetts, Nov 28, 2011 – As the cooperative movement gains global traction, with 800 million co-op members and 100 million employees in 2011, the launch of The Toolbox for Education and Social Action’s (TESA) latest tool “Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives” marks another milestone for the cooperative movement.

Produced by TESA, a worker cooperative based in Massachusetts, Co-opoly is a new game of skill and solidarity: where everyone wins or everybody loses! While promising to keep players on their toes and in stitches of laughter, Co-opoly is much more than just a board game – it’s a tool that helps people break away from the ‘winner takes all’ mentality and discover the boundless possibilities that arise from cooperation.

Communally developed over a three-year period of playing, testing and revision, Co-opoly hits the stage not a moment too soon. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement in the U.S., people are demanding more democratic communities and economies. Frustrated by banks, businesses, and institutions that do nothing for the majority, citizens around the world are
pouring into the streets looking for alternatives.

And Co-opoly provides just that. From the classroom to the factory, the farm, the independent start-up, the grocery store, and more, this tool offers players the chance to think outside the box of pure profit and imagine new ways of social organization.

It’s perfect for educators trying to facilitate creative discussions about the world economy, for workers looking for ways to develop their own cooperative work-places, and for households that want to have a great time while creating true democracy. In fact, Co-opoly is launching just as cooperatives are stepping into the spotlight with the United Nations declaring 2012 to be the International Year of Cooperatives.

Already Co-opoly has received orders from countries on nearly every continent, from Massachusetts to Morocco and from Scotland to South Korea!

TESA aimed to reflect Co-opoly’s core values of democracy and a just economy in the game’s very production. Every component of the game was created in the U.S., using primarily recycled materials and produced predominantly by worker cooperatives, all of them within 70 miles of TESA’s location!

The ethical production of Co-opoly has made its manufacturing costs much more expensive than games produced in sweatshops. Yet, TESA is proud to keep the game’s price comparable to other independent board games. Co-opoly is for sale at CoopolyGame.com for a sliding scale price of $42 - $65. This means the consumer decides how much they pay! What’s more, free additional resources on cooperatives will come with Co-opoly, including lessons plans, Introduction to Cooperatives literature, and more!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We are thankful for cooperation

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year we have a lot to be thankful for in regard to cooperation in the Northeast. Here are our top reasons for gratitude -- what are yours?

The Opportunity to Do Cooperative Development

Campaign for Cooperation
We love our work, and we love working with all of you. We get calls every week from people seeking advice on every conceivable type of cooperative enterprise. You are our inspiration and our purpose.
Campaign for Cooperation

Thanks to the hard work of the Cooperation Works! Urban Circle and of Rep. Chaka Fattah (PA-2nd District) and his staff, we may have the opportunity to do even more work with underserved communities throughout the Northeast. Rep. Fattah is looking for original cosponsors of the National Cooperative Development Act.

~ Thank you! ~
Attention from the Public and Policymakers

No doubt about it, the profile of cooperatives is rising. Between the economy tanking, appreciation for local food and local businesses deepening, anger at unresponsive banks and corporations flourishing, and the U.N. declaring 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives, people everywhere are turning to cooperatives as a promising solution.

Certain areas are receiving specific attention: on September 23, CDI's Andy Danforth joined Paul Bradley, president of ROC USA and recently named Ashoka Fellow, to speak at a roundtable hosted by the VT Housing and Conservation Board on manufactured housing in the state of Vermont. Nonprofit leaders from the whole state learned about the possibility of converting manufactured home parks into independent, economically viable, democratically run, Resident Owned Communities -- like Bunker Hill in Windsor, VT, whose residents bought their park in June (see press). CDI is currently assisting two additional parks in VT that are working to become cooperatives by the end of the year. We are assisting about 20 manufactured housing groups in total throughout New England.

A Chance to Live Our Values in Daily Life

With the help of cooperatives, we can get all our needs met by principled economic actors.
  • Search Why.coop (beta) to find a co-op near you where you can shop, eat, live, bank, or work in line with your principles
  • Shop for holiday gifts from co-ops
    • There are loads of ideas in the 2011 Cooperative Business Journal Holiday Gift Guide
    • We are especially fond of all those art and artisan co-ops we have in the Northeast. See for example beautiful photos of remarkable work by Sally Chaffee of the Shelburne Arts Co-op
    • And talk about co-op enterprises building a better world -- "Southern Alternatives Agricultural Cooperative (SAAC), located in rural southwest Georgia, is the only African-American-owned pecan-shelling facility in the United States — and it is run by women". They are selling yummy plain and candy pecans -- order by Dec 9!
  • Share your strength -- consider donating to the United Cooperative Appeal or to Farm Credit East and CoBank's campaign to support farm families hit hard by Hurricane Irene
  • Dorchester Community Food Co-opSeed the future -- look for a co-op project to invest in on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, IOBY.org, or another crowd-funding service
~ With Gratitude ~
~ CDI ~

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Contact Your Rep: National Cooperative Development Act

The National Cooperative Development Act has taken a big step. Congressman Fattah has written a letter to his Colleagues, asking them to become original co-sponsors of this important piece of legislation. In the letter, Congressman Fattah explains to his fellow Members of Congress some of the many benefits cooperative development has on communities:
  • Advancing the economic stability of local areas;
  • Increasing the circulation of capital in the local area increasing its economic multiplier and the impact of community investment, spurring locally oriented economic growth;
  • Developing, attracting and anchoring new productive capital in low-income communities; and
  • Expanding investment opportunities and asset creation for low and moderate-income Americans.
I'm asking you, my fellow co-op colleagues, to support the National Cooperative Development Act. This is an important time for us to rally early support for its passage. The Legislation needs support now in the form of original co-sponsors. And you are the ones to make it happen!

Here's how you can help:

  • Read the Dear Colleague Letter and the Legislation
  • Call your Representative's local office and make an appointment to talk to them or their staff in-person about the National Cooperative Development Act! Tell them about all the great work cooperatives are doing and can do in their district, and ask them to be a co-sponsor for this bill. Use this link to find your Representative's contact info https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
  • Participate in a webinar about the Legislation and how to effectively lobby your Member of Congress for support. (scheduled for next Tuesday - November 22nd - more details to come)
  • Spread the news - Share www.campaign.coop with your community of co-op supporters - and get them to join our campaign!
Thank you for your continued support, and don't hesitate to contact me with any questions,

Peter Frank
Advocacy Coordinator - Cooperation Works!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Donations to Farm Families Hurt by Irene and Lee, Kicked off by Farm Credit East and CoBank

Dear Northeast Agricultural Leaders and Policy Makers,

Farm Credit East in concert with United Way is coordinating an effort to help farm families hurt by Irene and Lee with personal donations (up to $500 to each family) to make their holiday season a little brighter. We would appreciate your help in getting the word out to affected farm families that suffered crop losses and damage as a result of the Irene and Lee disasters. This support is for any farm family with $10,000 of crop losses/damage in designated disaster counties in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. This is not limited to Farm Credit customers.

Farm Credit East and CoBank have both agreed to put $100,000 to this effort, so we have $200,000 to start. Farm Credit East employees are also making contributions and Yankee Farm Credit will be contributing (for the NY and NH counties that Yankee serves). United Way of the Greater Capital Region has also made a contribution. The actual amount of the grants to farm families will depend on the number of applications and the amount of total funds raised (up to $500 per farm family).
Other individuals and businesses are welcome/encouraged to make a contribution and will be recognized for their contributions in a final press release on this effort. The press release includes information on how to make a contribution to United Way for this effort – on-line or by check. This is a charitable contribution for tax purposes.

This assistance is not intended to cover business losses or make major repairs to homes and farm structures – it is intended to show “farm community concern” for the farm families hurt by Irene and Lee with the hope that their holiday can be a little nicer knowing that other folks care. In the attached release, Bill Lipinski says it better: “We just want folks to know we care and hope that they can be positive during the holidays.”

We do appreciate the on-going efforts of Northeast Congressional offices, State Departments of Agriculture, USDA, Governor Cuomo’s office and other NE state initiatives to support farmers at this time. These efforts are vital to help farms and rural communities to recover.

We are currently taking applications for this assistance – folks can apply by going on-line to www.farmcrediteast.com. The application includes more eligibility details. The application can also be found in Country Folks. Our deadline is November 26 in order that we can work with United Way to have checks received by farm families in mid-December. United Way of the Greater Capital District has been great to work with and is receiving funds and will write the checks.
Please forward this message to other organizations that may be interested.
Your efforts in getting this information out would be greatly appreciated!!!
Best regards,
Robert A. Smith
Senior Vice President, Public Affairs and Knowledge Exchange
Farm Credit East
2668 State Route 7, Suite 21
Cobleskill, NY 12043

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

United Nations launches the International Year of Cooperatives 2012

The United Nations has declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives. Why?

"Co-operatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility."
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

Or, as the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) puts it, it's about human need, not human greed.

The year launches October 31, 2011 in New York City

UN-IYC-aimsOur job during this year is to make sure that the public, policymakers, business leaders, and young people hear this message loud and clear. The three priorities identified by the UN and ICA are to:
  • increase awareness of the cooperative business model
  • promote growth of co-ops and the co-op economy
  • convince lawmakers to establish co-op friendly policies
There are as many ways to do that as there are co-ops and members of co-ops (so we're talking billions!). One exciting national initiative that allows us to hit all three priorities in the U.S. is to support the Campaign for Cooperation. The National Cooperative Development Act of 2011 promotes job creation and economic development in underserved communities through cooperative business development.
Campaign for CooperationRead more about it and find out how to contact your representatives at campaign.coop.

For more national information and tools for celebrating the International Year of the Cooperative in the USA, visit usa2012.coop.

What's happening in the Northeast?

There is an amazing diversity and energy among cooperatives in the Northeast. Here are just a few of the activities underway:

Cooperative Development Institute Events and Resources

During 2012 CDI will be:
  • offering co-ops and associations the use of a new pamphlet, "Cooperative Business Solutions for the Northeast U.S." -- call for delivery options
  • revamping its website, www.cdi.coop, to bring you more and better news, information, and opportunities
  • touring to Plattsburgh, NY, Portland, ME, and Cummington, MA
  • offering a new series of online tutorials and webinars

What will you be doing?

Here's some suggestions:
  • Post your co-op's unique story to Cultivate.coop and Stories.coop.
  • Make a video or snap a photo for My Co-op Rocks.
  • Invite local policymakers, chambers of commerce, and schools to tour your co-op.
  • Support the development of a new co-op nearby.
Thanks and stay tuned for more information, ideas and resources, coming your way.