Documentary films tell the story of the new economy

Cooperative and community based models highlighted
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Savannah Chaisson

An exciting movement towards new cooperative business models and community wealth building strategies is gaining momentum and recognition, and there is a veritable bumper crop of recent documentary films testifying to this new interest in the new economy.  As communities throughout the country innovate and cooperative businesses develop and flourish despite a struggling economy, these films offer a compelling portrait of an alternative vision.

To be released later this year, the film Shift Change documents the often overlooked stories of worker cooperatives in cities around the country. Featuring employee owned businesses like the Evergreen Cooperatives, the films shows how co-ops are able to create and secure jobs in a variety of economic sectors.

SHIFT CHANGE - preview from Mark Dworkin on Vimeo.

Also featuring the Evergreen Cooperatives, Fixing the Future is a recently released film that showcases the work of communities across the country as they implement innovative strategies to build a new economy, including local business alliances, community banking, worker cooperatives, alternative currencies, and more.

Fixing the Future Trailer - 4.5 minutes (Documentary and Panel) from JumpStart Productions on Vimeo.

Another recently released documentary Together: How Cooperatives Show Resilience to the Crisis showcases cooperative businesses on an international scale, explaining the unique strategies implemented by European cooperatives to remain stable and secure job providers during hard economic times, and highlighting the personal testimonies of worker owners in several different sectors.

TOGETHER - How cooperatives show resilience to the crisis : The new documentary by CECOP - CICOPA Europe from CECOP – CICOPA Europe on Vimeo.

Worker ownership is also highlighted in We the Owners: Employees Expanding the American Dream, which will be released this summer.  The documentary features employees and founders from three companies with varying employee ownership policies, offering an insider’s view on the benefits of shared wealth and responsibility.

Other documentaries highlight other parts of the growing cooperative sector. A forthcoming documentary, The Year of the Cooperative takes its inspiration from the declaration of 2012 as the “Year of the Cooperative” by the United Nations. This film will document stories of cooperative housing across the country, including everything from small scale college coops to entire ecovillages, and sharing stories and successes of the social living experience.

Year of the Cooperative Trailer from Frank Frye on Vimeo.

Another work-in-progress documentary, Food For Change documents the history of the co-op movement and displays examples of existing co-ops with a focus on consumer food co-ops. This film aims to raise national awareness about the cooperative economic model, support collaboration between cooperatives, and educate the public.

And finally, one last forthcoming film, To The Moon takes a unique angle on documenting the cooperative movement in the US—through the lens of a youth-led cross country bicycle tour, Co-Cycle: