Richmond, Virginia

The 32nd in our continuing series of Community Wealth Cities is Richmond, Virginia. Richmond has a complex history; once the capital of the Confederacy, it was also the first city to host a bank chartered by African- Americans. Its unique legacy as a site of both racial tension and progress creates interesting challenges and opportunities for community wealth building. Last fall, Richmond gained national attention for Mayor Dwight Jones’ anti-poverty plan, which calls for broad expansion of community wealth building and social enterprise activity.

September 2014

This month's new developments include: 

  • The Democracy Collaborative released a new report, Policies for Community Wealth Building: Leveraging State and Local Resources. 
  • The Washington Post published an article describing Richmond, Virginia’s newly established Office of Community Wealth Building. New Republic article explored how cooperatives can support a green economy and a Yes! Magazine article focused on how land trusts, worker ownership, and public banking can help reduce inequality.
  • Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times and appears in a joint interview with economic geography scholar David Harvey, conducted by Journalist Laura Flanders of GRITtv.
  • New Report Outlines Emerging Best Practices in State & Local Policies to Build Community Wealth
  • Federal Commitment to Higher Workforce Standards Reduces Inequality
  • Communities Address Racial Inequity through Investment in Local Food Systems
  • Healthcare Institutions Invest Locally to Build Sustainable and Healthy Communities
  • The Road So Far: Penn Leaders Recount Path to Building an Anchor Mission
  • Participatory Budgeting Project
  • Impact Investing Policy Collaborative

September 2014

*NEW* Gar Alperovitz, "America Has a Scary Sewage Problem: Let's Clean It Up and Jumpstart the Economy While We're At It," Alternet, August 4, 2014.

The problem is simple, surprising, and quite honestly disgusting: Our nation’s older cities depend largely on sewage treatment systems that overflow when it rains, dumping 860 billion gallons of raw sewage a year into “fresh” water across the country—enough to cover the entire state of Pennsylvania an inch deep.

But the stormwater crisis is also a tremendous opportunity to move in the direction of a new, community sustaining local economy.

 

*NEW* Gar Alperovitz, "Is Worker Ownership a Way Forward for Market Basket?," Truthout, August 11, 2014.

The Market Basket situation is indeed, as many commentators have remarked, nearly unprecedented in the annals of American labor relations: When have we ever seen so many workers protest so vigorously for, rather than against, their boss! (For those new to the story, the New England supermarket chain has been wracked by massive employee protests, organized without any union involvement, after a faction of the family that owns the chain took control and ousted extremely popular CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. The mobilization in support of the former chief executive has resulted in nearly empty shelves and the mobilization of angry communities of formerly happy customers.)

But beneath the surface of the singular job action, in which workers and community have banded together to demand the reinstatement of the former CEO, the conflict in New England points toward something much more fundamental: the need to build institutions that can sustain the kind of community- and worker-friendly business leadership that earned "good brother" Arthur T. such incredible loyalty.

Happily, such institutions already exist, here in the United States. While undoubtedly not perfect as a form of workplace democracy, the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) offers a proven template for making the interest workers have in a thriving business part of the discussions about a company's future.

Ira Harkavy, Matthew Hartley, Rita A. Hodges, Anthony Sorrentino and Joann Weeks, "Effective Governance of a University as an Anchor Institution," Raabe Academic Publishers, 2, Berlin: Leadership and Governance in Higher Education, 2014, 98-116.

This case study, authored by Ira Harkavy and his colleagues at Penn, describes how the role of the University of Pennsylvania as an anchor institution has evolved from 1981 to present. The paper describes community engagement efforts like the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, which works to leverage research, teaching, and learning to support West Philadelphia; and the University City District, an economic partnership between small businesses, anchor institutions. While Penn’s cultural reshaping remains, in the words of its authors, a “work in progress,” the authors are optimistic that “Penn will further evolve as an anchor institution and increasingly realize [Ben] Franklin’s democratic civic vision.”

*NEW* Dean Paton, "Poverty Is Not Inevitable: What We Can Do Now to Turn Things Around," Yes! Magazine, 2014.

In the "End of Poverty" issue of Yes! Magazine, Dean Paton explores the policy choices that have led to record inequality and growing poverty, and examines proposals by Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz, who "not only lays out an array of alternatives already keeping people from poverty, but solutions we also can build upon to create strategies that, over time, might replace corporate capitalism."

*NEW* Kathy Gerwig, Greening Healthcare: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet, Oxford University Press, New York:

Authored by Kaiser Permanente’s Environmental Stewardship Officer Kathy Gerwig, this new book provides a roadmap for healthcare institutions aiming to help build healthy and sustainable communities. Gerwig’s case studies of current hospital best practices identify environmentally preferable purchasing policies, investments in local food systems, and other green strategies that provide powerful examples of how healthcare institutions can meet existing community benefit requirements and reduce health disparities, thereby improving health outcomes while building wealth in low- to moderate- income communities. 

*NEW* The Democracy Collaborative, "Policies for Community Wealth Building: Leveraging State and Local Resources," Washington, D.C.: The Democracy Collaborative, September 2014.

Fostering resilient communities and building wealth in today’s local economies is necessary to achieve individual, regional, and national economic security. A community wealth building strategy employs a range of forms of community ownership and asset building strategies to build wealth in low-income communities. In so doing, community wealth building bolsters the ability of communities and individuals to increase asset ownership, anchor jobs locally, expand the provision of public services, and ensure local economic stability. 

*NEW* Anthony Giancatarino and Simran Noor, Building the Case for Racial Equity in the Food System, The Center for Social Inclusion, New York, NY: July 17, 2014.

This report from The Center for Social Inclusion examines the effects of housing, school, land, and wage policies on access to healthy food in communities of color. It offers recommendations to surmount these challenges, such as investing in cooperatively owned food enterprises and leveraging dollars from the Affordable Care Act’s community benefit requirements for nonprofit hospitals. The report also includes several reference guides to help community groups identify and confront the particular institutions, policies, and practices that promote structural racial inequity in their food systems. 

*NEW* Robert Hiltonsmith and Lew Daly, Underwriting Good Jobs, Demos, New York, NY: June 2014, 1-35.

The third report in a Dēmos research series examining how the federal contracting system has contributed to income inequality illustrates the potential for federal purchasing to instead promote upward mobility. The authors show that by setting higher workforce standards, which require federal contractors to provide living wages, paid sick leave, and the right to collective bargaining, the United States can grow its middle class, increase community wealth, and generate employment. Indeed, the authors estimate that such measures could foster the creation of an additional 260,000 jobs.

*NEW* Sean McElwee, When Workers Own Their Companies, Everyone Wins, New Republic,

This New Republic article explores how cooperatives can support a green and democratic economy.

Ira Harkavy, Matthew Hartley, Rita A. Hodges, Anthony Sorrentino and Joann Weeks, "Effective Governance of a University as an Anchor Institution," Raabe Academic Publishers, 2, Berlin: Leadership and Governance in Higher Education, 2014, 98-116.

This case study, authored by Ira Harkavy and his colleagues at Penn, describes how the role of the University of Pennsylvania as an anchor institution has evolved from 1981 to present. The paper describes community engagement efforts like the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, which works to leverage research, teaching, and learning to support West Philadelphia; and the University City District, an economic partnership between small businesses, anchor institutions. While Penn’s cultural reshaping remains, in the words of its authors, a “work in progress,” the authors are optimistic that “Penn will further evolve as an anchor institution and increasingly realize [Ben] Franklin’s democratic civic vision.”

*NEW* Anthony Giancatarino and Simran Noor, Building the Case for Racial Equity in the Food System, The Center for Social Inclusion, New York, NY: July 17, 2014.

This report from The Center for Social Inclusion examines the effects of housing, school, land, and wage policies on access to healthy food in communities of color. It offers recommendations to surmount these challenges, such as investing in cooperatively owned food enterprises and leveraging dollars from the Affordable Care Act’s community benefit requirements for nonprofit hospitals. The report also includes several reference guides to help community groups identify and confront the particular institutions, policies, and practices that promote structural racial inequity in their food systems. 

*NEW* Robert Hiltonsmith and Lew Daly, Underwriting Good Jobs, Demos, New York, NY: June 2014, 1-35.

The third report in a Dēmos research series examining how the federal contracting system has contributed to income inequality illustrates the potential for federal purchasing to instead promote upward mobility. The authors show that by setting higher workforce standards, which require federal contractors to provide living wages, paid sick leave, and the right to collective bargaining, the United States can grow its middle class, increase community wealth, and generate employment. Indeed, the authors estimate that such measures could foster the creation of an additional 260,000 jobs.

*NEW* Kathy Gerwig, Greening Healthcare: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet, Oxford University Press, New York:

Authored by Kaiser Permanente’s Environmental Stewardship Officer Kathy Gerwig, this new book provides a roadmap for healthcare institutions aiming to help build healthy and sustainable communities. Gerwig’s case studies of current hospital best practices identify environmentally preferable purchasing policies, investments in local food systems, and other green strategies that provide powerful examples of how healthcare institutions can meet existing community benefit requirements and reduce health disparities, thereby improving health outcomes while building wealth in low- to moderate- income communities. 

Pages

Featured publication

  • Policies for Community Wealth Building: Leveraging State and Local Resources

    The Democracy Collaborative

    Fostering resilient communities and building wealth in today’s local economies is necessary to achieve individual, regional, and national economic security. A community wealth building strategy employs a range of forms of community ownership and asset building strategies to build wealth in low-income communities. In so doing, community wealth building bolsters the ability of communities and individuals to increase asset ownership, anchor jobs locally, expand the provision of public services, and ensure local economic stability. 

    Read more...

What is Community Wealth?

How do you build community wealth? Here's some of the basic principles of a successful approach:

Community Wealth Cities

C-W City: Cincinnati, Ohio

Incorporated as a city in 1819, Cincinnati grew steadily through the mid-1900s due to its prime location on the Ohio River.  In fact, the Queen City—so dubbed by Longfellow, who referred to it as “the Queen of the West”—weathered the Great Depression better than most cities of comparable size because of the resurgence in river trade, which was less expensive than rail.  By 1950, Cincinnati had grown to its peak of nearly 504,000 residents, making it the 18th largest city in the country. Read more about C-W City: Cincinnati, Ohio...

Community Wealth Interviews

C-W Interview: Ai-jen Poo

Ai-jen Poo has been organizing immigrant women workers since 1996. In 2000 she co-founded Domestic Workers United, the New York organization that spearheaded the successful passage of the state’s historic Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010. In 2007, DWU helped organize the first national domestic workers convening, where the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) was formed. Ai-jen has served as Director of NDWA since 2009 and works on elevating women of color and domestic workers rights issues at a national level.

Spotlight

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  • Community Capital

    In this new guide to community investment, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) identifies finance options and other investment tools to reinvigorate regional economies, create high-quality jobs, and restore the environment. BALLE offers this guide as a resource to help re-shape financial capital flows to support local self-sufficiency and ingenuity.

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