Solidarity Economy Principles

Solidarity Economy Principles spelled out as logo in purple serif text

Collective Care, Relationships, and Accountability

A figure in shadow spreads their arms in a lily pond with gentle yellow ripples and stars emanating out from them. Around the pond are three evergreens and a night sky with a moon and some green flowers growing at the edge of the pond. It reads stepping into our accountability can be a moment of liberation. That's a quote from Shira Hassan.
"Asumir nuestra responsabilidad puede ser un momento de liberación." - Shira Hassan

Relationships based on trust and mutual respect which recognize and honor our inherent interdependence are the core of Solidarity Economy work. In order to build a radically different economy, we must practice a radically different culture: caring for each other in good times and in hard times, through disagreement and through conflict. As SE organizers, we commit to struggling for freedom together, and learning to face conflict and challenges directly. This means that we don’t exclude people from organizations or movements except as a last resort. We set healthy boundaries and we don’t let harm slide. We pay attention to our collective needs and support each other to stay true to our shared values.

PRINCIPLE: We value relationships over transactions and single outcomes.
  • PRACTICE: Each level of SE work (global, national, regional, local, individual organizations) has its own sphere of work and responsibility particular to that level. Organizations should strive to collaborate and support each other in their work rather than compete. Decision-making and organizing work should be done at the most local level possible. All levels of work should be connected (i.e. the local should connect to national, and national or global should elevate the decisions and work of the local).
  • PRACTICE: National SE policy advocacy should always include local associations and grassroots members who live and work within the districts represented by SE legislative champions. Even if a group does not have capacity, an invitation should be issued out of respect for the relationship and grassroots needs.
  • PRACTICE: Spokespeople at any level should have clear accountability within movement networks and organizations. Organizations can provide formal training and acknowledge that this role is challenging and important.
  • PRACTICE: Build communication structures and feedback channels that are mutually beneficial and supportive of multiple levels of SE work. Such structures should build clarity around who is taking responsibility for what part of the work, and should serve as the basis for developing policy platforms.
  • PRACTICE: SE practitioners who interface with media must commit to elevating a wide variety of examples – not just the usual suspects. Those with frequent access to the media should look for opportunities to pass the opportunity on to others, especially those most impacted by the work and those who do not have the same opportunities for visibility.
  • PRACTICE: Slow down. We move together in intentional alignment rather than giving in to opportunism. We should make sure those most directly impacted are leading. We should create accessible governance mechanisms and provide language and physical access accommodations. This is important at all levels but especially nationally, where federal policy shifts impact all the groups on the ground.
  • PRACTICE: Build and honor peer networks. Prioritize resourcing these spaces with time, money, and support. Anti-individualism means that in a single organization it is insufficient to have just one member responsible for all peer networking. These relationships need to be deeper and spread throughout the organization, and for people to feel supported by each other both within and outside their group.
  • PRACTICE: We honor cooperative principle #7 Concern for Community. We gauge whether something is a good decision not only short-term but for the long-term by asking: 1) Will this be good for all people? 2) Will this be good for future generations? 3) Will this be good for the Earth?
  • PRACTICE: We do not undermine the work or resources of other organizations in the movement. Constructive criticism and dialogue is necessary.  Constructive engagement is necessary if a person or organization acts in a way that is harmful to the common aim or to a companion organization.
PRINCIPLE: We commit to reflecting on how we are collectively living up to our values and practicing accountability together.
  • PRACTICE: Ella Baker provides us with a good example in her organizing with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) where she advocated for dedicated annual spaces to hash out tensions and have principled debate and decision-making. Differences in strategy and tactics were considered points of discussion and required political education and context to understand. (For more on this, check out Barbara Ransby’s biography of Ella Baker.)

  • PRACTICE: Each organization needs to articulate which changes it hopes to make in the world and how its actions contribute to that.  (For a good example, check out the Sustainable Economies Law Center’s Mission, Theory of Change, and Financial Transparency page.)

  • PRACTICE: We share information about outcomes with each other, what worked out as planned and what did not, so that we can all learn and advance together.

 

 

PRINCIPLE: We study and respect the traditions, ancestors, and legacies of cooperative, solidarity economy, and social movements.
  • PRACTICE: In the case of cooperatives, we uphold and honor the cooperative identity by holding groups which claim to be co-ops accountable to the International Cooperative Principles and SE values, legal definitions pertinent to co-ops in their territory, and apply the same standards which are widely adopted globally to determine whether a group is a co-op. 

 

  • PRACTICE: We protect our SE movement from “faux-ops” who seek to claim the Cooperative Identity or SE identity without any of the practices or principles that entails. For example, when large corporations use the co-op name to sell something, without any democracy or collective ownership in their operations, we organize to protect the co-op identity. Similarly, if a group attempts to claim the term Solidarity Economy, without relationships to movements or embodying SE values, principles, and practices, we invite them into relationship and accountability.

 

  • PRACTICE:  All of our traditions and legacies have practices for supporting start-up groups. In the cooperative tradition, Rochdale Principle 6: Cooperation Among Cooperatives, has guided existing co-ops to help new co-ops form. Tensions can arise when start-ups claim an organizational identity they aspire to, but do not yet hold because they have not matured fully into that kind of organization. When this happens it benefits the whole movement for older groups to build a relationship to the start-up and support their development.

 

  • PRACTICE: All people have ancestors who practiced cooperation, but we vary widely in our ability to access that knowledge and history. We respect and uplift the work of individual communities to access their own traditions and knowledge of SE as practiced by their ancestors. When that knowledge is shared with those outside of the community, that is a gift and should be met with respect and gratitude. 

 

  • PRACTICE: We avoid conflating models with each other, or pitting them against each other, or holding any one model up as The Way.
PRINCIPLE: We embrace conflict as generative and clarifying.
  • PRACTICE: Groups at all levels should have proactive, well-defined processes for addressing and repairing harm, and addressing  conflict between organizations or individuals. This includes transparent processes for safely reporting and addressing harm. For example, check out this guide to member conflict and harm resolution from the national membership organization, Resource Generation; this shareable template for Communication and Conflict Resolution Profiles that you can have individuals fill out during calm times as a tool for when conflict does emerge brought to you by Sustainable Economies Law Center and Arizmendi Cooperatives; or this Conflict Engagement Policy from Sustainable Economies Law Center.

 

  • PRACTICE: Groups should prioritize conflict-resolution by including it in their  budgets, reserving time in retreats and meetings, engaging in training for members, etc.).  For example, Soul Fire Farm “uses a peer-to-peer “Real Talk” process to give one another direct feedback on a monthly basis. When conflict arises, we use a Courageous Conversation protocol, which we learn and practice during our annual staff orientation. A witness or mediator is present if desired by anyone involved in the conflict. Our team creates and upholds safe & sacred space agreements that call for nonviolence and a trauma-informed response to harm. We are committed to transformative justice, and have a professional facilitator available for meditation and healing as needs arise.We are inspired by the work of adrienne maree brown “we will not cancel us” and are committed to giving and receiving constructive feedback in ways that uphold our precious comrades, collective work, and institutions. We also welcome community members to offer us feedback at any time using this form: https://bit.ly/SFFfeedback.This information comes from a Soul Fire Farm Facebook post.

 

  • PRACTICE: Groups at all levels should have clearly defined standards of behavior that everyone must agree to prior to joining the group and that are a requirement for ongoing membership. These must include protections for people from oppressed groups being targeted by people from dominant social groups. 
English