“It’s time to have a real, good integrative plan… around where do we want to be and go, and how do we love ourselves in the midst…”
-Elandria C. Williams, Executive Director, PeoplesHub & Popular Educator
Art by Jeanne Rewa
Our movements for freedom thrive when we share and develop knowledge together, whether that’s from study or honoring what we have observed and experienced ourselves. We learn from what we have in common, and we learn just as much from our differences. This project is meant to support all of us in learning rooted in practice, no matter how new or how experienced, in the craft of building solidarity economy movements.
We believe Fannie Lou Hamer: “Nobody is free until everybody is free.” As SE organizers, we commit to struggling for this freedom together, learning to face conflict and challenges directly. We commit to addressing the harm created by systemic oppression, including the ways we and our communities are both harmed by and benefit from dominance, privilege, and oppression. This work takes place on a scale from the local and interpersonal level to that of global networks. Our shared effort here to collect guidance on what practices are needed for building solidarity economy movements, while knowing there are many ways to approach getting free. Your contributions are welcome.
Help grow this resource by sharing practices you are using to live into these principles. Fill out this form to share a practice with our team. We will review and add items from this form every couple of months.
Thank you for being here. May our collective efforts grow our capacities for solidarity and practicing freedom.
The principles and practices generated here initially came from a series of conversations in spring and summer 2021 among the people listed below who agreed to participate in drafting a version to circulate to our communities. Over the course of the summer of 2021 the drafting group produced a first draft of the SE Principles and published a website in English and Spanish. Throughout the fall and winter of 2021-2022 the drafting group supported a variety of SE organizations to host workshops and presentations about the principles and practices in an effort to build collective knowledge through shared inquiry. From September 2021 through March 2022 organizations and communities engaged in SE work were also invited to submit comments about the content of the website, presentations, and workshops — whether that was a critique, question, suggestion, or an ah-ha moment.
In Spring 2022, the drafting group met to incorporate the feedback from presentations and workshops and via the online form. A subcommittee reviewed this feedback and proposed edits for the larger group to discuss. The version of the principles and practices you see here was finalized in June 2022. Organizations were invited to commit to them at that time.
The drafting group was made up of people with long and deep experience working in worker cooperatives, cooperative and solidarity economy networks, and building cooperation and democracy at the grassroots in the US and Canada. All agreed to devote time outside their organizations to support this movement-building effort. (Organizational affiliation is for identification purposes only and does not imply endorsement of this document or the principles.)
The following people provided consultation and facilitation support:
The spirit of this project has roots in many places. The drafting group who wrote the first draft and held a community feedback process was inspired by the collective guidance of elders and ancestors about how to achieve cooperation and resist cooptation by a capitalist, racist, sexist, colonial, and ableist system of accumulation, scarcity, and domination. Some of this guidance came in the specific forms of the International Cooperative Principles, the Jemez Principles, Beautiful Solutions, and the Madison Principles.
The drafting group built upon the foundational work organized by the Grassroots Economic Organizing Collective (GEO) and worker cooperators to develop a set of principles for worker co-operative networks and developers, which were brainstormed at Red Emma’s Bookstore after the 2019 Advancing Development of Workplace Democracy event held in conjunction with the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy. GEO did not have capacity to finish those principles and get them into the world, so this project has in part been a continuation of that initiative.
Black Southern SE organizers like Ella Jo Baker and Elandria Williams, who both fostered and held sacred the capacity of people to self-govern, also provided strong inspiration. Many of the drafting group participants knew and loved Elandria, and were touched by their capacity to hold people with love while in disagreement and conflict. Several participants had ongoing conversations with Elandria about the conflicts that prevented a strong SE movement from emerging in the US, but Elandria passed before the broader collective movement conversations could be organized. In the wake of that loss, Elandria’s friends Rachel Plattus, Eli Feghali, Rebecca Kemble, and Cheyenna Weber began meeting in grief and with a desire to carry this conversation forward to a wider circle of SE practitioners. With the assistance of PeoplesHub, they provided administrative support to and facilitated the convenings of the drafting group.
The drafting group acknowledges its imperfections and limited perspectives. While the group was intentional in designing the process, they also take responsibility for any inadvertent harm created by drafting and publishing the SE practices and principles in this way. If you feel that harm was done, please send an email to email@example.com.
The principles and practices on this site and in this document are intended to spark conversation and action in SE communities and movements. Please join in this collective process of editing and improving the principles and practices. The work to build an SE movement that is rooted in SE values is work we must all do together, in solidarity and cooperation.
As of June 2022, a collective of SE organizers drawn from the original drafting group has taken up the stewarding responsibilities for this project. These responsibilities include maintaining the website, coordinating translations, responding to community inquiries, facilitating SE principles and practices workshops and learning spaces, and coordinating community participation as needed.
The project is fiscally sponsored by MadWorC, a 501(c)3 cooperative of cooperatives, and its costs are solely supported by donations from individuals and solidarity economy organizations. You can support these costs by making a donation. You can be in touch with the collective by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.