Economic Democracy and US Electricity Coops

By the onset of the Great Depression, few people in the rural United States had electricity at home—about 10 percent. The power companies that had lit up the cities simply didn’t see enough profit in serving far-flung farmers. But gradually some of those farmers started forming electric cooperatives—utility companies owned and governed by their customers—and strung up their own lines … Farmers set up their own power lines and co-ops, even as corporate competitors tried to undermine them, building stray “spite lines” through their prospective territories. But the cooperators prevailed. They switched on their own lights.

We typically think of our democratic institutions as having to do with politicians and governments. But there are democratic businesses, too—not just these electric co-ops, but also hulking credit unions, mutual-insurance companies, and ubiquitous cooperative brands from Land O’Lakes to the Associated Press. Their democracy is fragile. When it’s not exercised or noticed, these creatures act on their own volition.

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May 2017 Research and Degrowth Newsletter

Yet another editorial where the highlight is the high number of academic publications in degrowth. The multidisciplinary nature of these publications (technology, health,culture, happiness, extractivism, policies, transition, power, strategies, etc) explore the different roots, challenges and proposals of degrowth. This newsletter introduces the Feminisms and Degrowth Alliance (FaDA), a much needed alliance in the degrowth movement. Also, summer is approaching so we have few more interesting summer schools to attend.

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The Future is a “Pluriverse”- An Interview with D avid Bollier on the Potential of the Commons – P2P

Some believe that the commons are incompatible with commodity markets. Others claim that markets and commons may form mutually beneficial relations with each other. What are your own views on this issue?

I think it is entirely possible for markets and commons to “play nicely together,” but only if commoners can have “value sovereignty” over their resources and community governance. Market players such as businesses and investors cannot be able to freely appropriate the fruits of a commons for themselves without the express authorization of commoners.

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Commons-connected citizen initiatives in Ghent in the last 10 years

Michel Bauwens: Ghent is a mid-sized city of about 300,000 inhabitants, with a huge student population, and a prestigious history. It was once the biggest city in northwestern Europe (12th-13th century). It has had a progressive red-green-blue city coalition for more than a decade and has already been active in supporting many citizen initiatives. But as the city became more and more aware of the importance of the commons in these new models, it asked us as the P2P Foundation (myself and coordinator Yurek Onzia for our p2p/commons related expertise) to map the commons in Ghent, and to see what is expected of city authorities in this context. Thus, we have three months for intense conversations with the local players, and to produce a Commons Transition Plan.

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Seeing beyond our perceptive spheres: The Apple and the Ant

Reality can be only what you can perceive and it would seem that nothing can exist – for you – beyond your perception sphere… In practice, there is a twilight zone in which you can vaguely perceive that “something” exists out there. Some only partly unknown unknown that you perceive enough that you realize you should be worried about it. But you don’t know how and why.

One way to perceive the unperceivable is to imagine yourself as someone or something who/which faces a similar plight, but one that you can understand.

In his post on ants and men, Antonio Turiel describes a metaphor that starts from another characteristic of ants, their very poor eyesight. That serves to underline another kind of human limitation: the inability of seeing beyond the narrow limits of what we see and hear in the media. Turiel describes an “ant-man” who has good smelling abilities but cannot see beyond a very short distance ahead. This ant-man is more intelligent than a regular ant and can plan ahead, even by sophisticated ways of reasoning. But he lacks the capability of seeing above himself at any distance

Read Turiel’s whole post (in Spanish) on “The Oil Crash”

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Sacred Activism in a Post-Trump World | P2P Foundation

A 500-year-old economic and political system is dying. ‘Trump trauma’ is affecting people around the world, but the current climate (in every sense of the word) is not the result of one man alone. While we come to grips with that bigger picture, it’s worth asking: What gives us hope? What keeps our hearts beating, and gives us the spirit to keep the struggle for justice alive?

12th Global to Local Webinar Recording with Alnoor Ladha & Helena Norberg-Hodge, April 19th, 2017

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This summer is so packed, it should go on holiday

An abundance of degrowth-related events will be taking place this summer. There is something for everyone. We hope you will make the right pick!

The editing team

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