We believe Fannie Lou Hamer: “Nobody is free until everybody is free.” Our commitment to building a Solidarity Economy is about the liberation of all from systems of domination. We must attend to the ways that those systems operate within us and within our organizations and enterprises, or else we risk replicating the very things we are working to transform. 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. We understand this work takes place on a scale from the local and interpersonal level to that of global networks.

PRINCIPLE: We build movements, not projects. Even as we organize to build our co-ops, land trusts, and other enterprises, we do so not only for their own sake, but also connected to the larger goal of social transformation.
  • PRACTICE: Not every organization or project needs to last forever. We listen and accept when a project is no longer needed. We lean into this by encouraging evaluation of a project’s impacts and possibilities given the conditions.

  • PRACTICE: We approach our projects and organizations as community organizers, not as economic development or financial professionals. We see solidarity economy tools as a way for oppressed people to develop their power, not for their own sake.
PRINCIPLE: We build relationships on solidarity and cooperation, not competition, because despite our particularities we are all in this together.
  • PRACTICE: We participate in social, political, educational and economic activities with allied groups in order to know one another, build trust and practice solidarity. This includes joining federations, coalitions, and other formations for political and economic power.
PRINCIPLE: We shift culture with our language, practices, expectations, and pedagogy.
  • PRACTICE: Anti-oppression can be a systemic approach to identifying and shifting issues. One tool you might use is AORTA’s Continuum for Becoming a Transformative Anti-Oppression Organization. Set aside time to review, reflect, and plan for this journey.

  • PRACTICE: Our organizations should have an ongoing commitment to language justice, the idea that we should respect the human right of being able to communicate in the language we prefer and feel most powerful using, rather than forcing everybody to default to Standard English. This most often looks like acknowledging diverse language needs and providing interpretation and translation to meet these needs.

  • PRACTICE: Use ritual to create repeated, lived experiences for people that reinforce cooperation and solidarity.

  • PRACTICE: Examine language, use of metaphors, and styles of communication for cooperative vs. competitive and liberatory vs. oppressive content.
PRINCIPLE: We respect nature because we are nature. We organize as though our survival as humans is based on clean water, clean air, healthy soil, and respect for all living beings.
  • PRACTICE: Commitment to ongoing education/knowledge-building about a just transition away from an extractive economy and toward regenerative practices and systems. This zine from Movement Generation may be a good starting point (English / Spanish). 

  • PRACTICE: Include your impact on the planet in your group’s reflections and strategic planning. Growing positive relationships to land, air, water, and living beings is just as important as minimizing negative impacts, so be sure to focus on both.

  • PRACTICE: Be an advocate for climate and environmental issues in your community. Sign on to letters, join coalitions, and participate in actions. You could even give staff or members specific time to dedicate to this work. For example, if your group is a business you could consider joining American Sustainable Business Council to be a voice for businesses opposed to fossil fuels, or raise awareness and move resources to a particular environmental fight, etc.

  • PRACTICE: For those doing food or land-based work, consider aligning with the methodology and principles of agroecology. Here’s a report by Why Hunger with more information about agroecology and their People’s Agroecology Process. 
PRINCIPLE: We make robust commitments to racial justice within and outside our organizations by moving beyond performance to actually shifting power and addressing legacies of harm while creating opportunities for repair.
  • PRACTICE: Acknowledge the Native Peoples where you are working. Understand and honor the treaties, and build relationships with Native nations and communities in the territory where you are located.

  • PRACTICE: Pay a land tax annually. This is a practice of identifying whose land you’re on and regularly making financial contributions to support those who were displaced or remain on the land fighting for survival. In some areas there are organized land tax projects (such as Sogorea Te Land Trust, Real Rent Duwamish, etc.) but even if they do not exist you can do your own research to identify traditional Native leadership and lend your support. Native-land.ca can help you start that search.

  • PRACTICE: Offer scholarships to Native and Black people and provide services that are pro bono or reduced cost to Native and Black groups.

  • PRACTICE: Engage in land back when and where possible. This does not always look like transferring legal ownership of a property, though it can mean that. Land back can encompass agreements to allow Native groups access to spaces for their work, ceremonies, and households. It can also mean supporting Native advocacy to protect or access sacred lands or to stop dangerous pipelines, mines, power plants, transmission lines, waste facilities or other extraction projects.

  • PRACTICE: Acknowledge and reckon with the history of enslavement and the legacy of anti-Blackness that remains and how it shows up in our organizations. This includes resourcing BIPOC people in our organizing to address internalized oppression. This toolkit on dismantling anti-blackness in organizations by the AORTA collective may help.

  • PRACTICE: Support reparations, land back, and rematriation. This might include joining with other organizations to advocate for reparations, educating your group about the ways your work is implicated in enslavement, segregation, genocide, and dispossession of Black and Native Peoples, and deepening your own knowledge about what reparations and landback mean. For example, check out the Movement For Black Lives Reparations Toolkit to learn more about the difference between reparations and redistribution, and NDN Collective’s Landback campaign. We also strongly encourage you to look for reparations and landback work rooted locally where you live.

  • PRACTICE: Invest in SE efforts led by and for Black communities, especially in the US-South.

  • PRACTICE: Create inclusive cultures where white supremacy and racism are named and addressed. Whether your group is multiracial, folks of color, or white folks, racism and white supremacy are impacting your culture and dynamics. Make regular space to talk about and grapple with that and budget time and space to train folks who need support to grapple with it.

  • PRACTICE: Consider your internal policies – including compensation, time off, etc. – through a lens of historic and current inequities. Make sure that those impacted by those decisions have shared power in the decision-making process.

  • PRACTICE: Know the lineages of your work. Know who developed the kind of work you’re doing, who is owed respect, who the ancestors and elders are in your space. Come to understand your place as a lineage holder.

  • PRACTICE: Support organizing for immigrant justice. Acknowledge that many immigrants are building solidarity economy movements under an atmosphere of constant threat, including that of detention and deportation, and support efforts to dismantle these hostile conditions, including within our organizations.

  • PRACTICE: Support efforts to abolish systems of punishment including jails, prisons, detention centers, policing, immigration enforcement, and surveillance. In addition to being in solidarity with those efforts through attending rallies or responding to calls to action, find ways to remove your participation in carceral systems, dynamics of exclusion and punishment, and hold open conversations in your group about where you can practice non-compliance. For example, some radical mental health organizations refuse to alert officials when people express certain kinds of distress, including suicidal ideation, instead relying on community and relationships to ensure safety.

  • PRACTICE: Learn anti-oppression facilitation that supports the voices of all rather than domination by a few, and commit to ongoing check-ins with how you’re addressing oppression inside the organization. AORTA offers some great trainings: www.aorta.coop.
PRINCIPLE: We acknowledge the history of patriarchy and misogyny as a root of capitalist exploitation and we seek to address these behaviors as they appear in our organizations and ourselves.
  • PRACTICE: Gender-based caucuses for study, reflection, and workshopping behaviors are useful for any level of SE organizing. For an example, check out the Everyday Solidarity for Everyday Sexism work in NYC.

  • PRACTICE: Monitor and address pay disparities that arise from gender and be mindful of the ways we can value traditionally unpaid  labor and care work.

  • PRACTICE: Monitor and address labor disparities that arise from gender. For example, co-ops can audit the labor that falls outside individual job descriptions that is essential for a healthy group. This is often care work that is invisible and unpaid, but crucial to the functioning of the organization.

  • PRACTICE: Normalize the use of pronouns, gender inclusive restrooms and uniforms, and require an understanding of basic concepts of gender identity for staff and members. Resource this work with workshops and cultural competency trainings led by women, trans, and gender non-conforming people.

  • PRACTICE: Participate in gender history events, and gender justice advocacy as part of a commitment to building an inclusive culture inside and outside your organization.
PRINCIPLE: We support workers’ rights and the liberation of poor and working people.
  • PRACTICE: Support unions in our workplaces. For example, many worker co-ops choose to join unions in solidarity with workers in their field. This also gives them access to benefits and services, such as a grievance process. All groups that have a formal workplace can benefit from union affiliation.

  • PRACTICE: Develop strong worker support processes and structures like steward councils, mediation practices and educational programs within cooperative and SE enterprises/organizations.

  • PRACTICE: Never cross a picket line. If you have a vendor or ally group where workers are on strike or picketing, respect that need and let the vendor or ally know you support the workers and will get your goods or services elsewhere.

  • PRACTICE: Symbolically and materially support worker self-organization (e.g. sign petitions, contribute to strike funds, look to fulfill specific requests of organizing committees).

  • PRACTICE: Develop a culture of talking about the impacts of classism in your group. Train members of your group to learn about how class dynamics work using tools from Class Action or others. As you learn together about the impact of classism, change your policies and structures to accommodate people from poor and working class backgrounds.

  • PRACTICE: Mitigate class bias in your hiring process as much as possible. Some examples: include pay rates and benefits details upfront in job postings, create job descriptions that don’t pose unnecessary qualifications (e.g. requiring formal degree when equivalent experience or the ability to learn a core task would suffice), anonymize applications before reviewing, use the same structured interview questions for all candidates.

  • PRACTICE: Sliding scale pricing allows us to create access for all. Check out examples of sliding scale at Accountability Mapping, Ride Free Fearless Money, Little Red Bird Botanicals, and the gift economy work of East Point Peace Academy.
PRINCIPLE: We incorporate disability justice principles into our organizations and incorporate access as a value, practice, and culture.
  • PRACTICE: Learn about the 10 disability justice principles from Sins Invalid and discuss incorporating them with your organization.

  • PRACTICE: Design your group’s work with access in mind. If you are offering services, determine if they are available to disabled people, and if not, identify ways you can practice accessibility in your offerings. There are many checklists on the Internet to help you evaluate how accessible your website and marketing is, how to hold accessible events online and offline, and ways to build relationships to disabled people. Consider disability when you’re designing your hiring, training, and membership onboarding processes, and create policies that are disability-friendly. There are many trainings and resources available to help you on this journey, just remember that access is a practice, not a destination.

  • PRACTICE: Use the Disability Justice Audit Tool to explore your organization’s relationship to access and disability justice.
PRINCIPLE: We move with reverence for life and intentionally make room for joy, pleasure, grief, and connection.
  • PRACTICE: Incorporate cultural organizing practices into the processes of your organization. Check out Spirit House as an example. The US Department of Arts and Culture is also a great source of inspiration.

  • PRACTICE: Incorporate ritual and embodied practice into regular meetings, events and organizational process. Rather than incorporating these as an add-on or afterthought, explore how shared ritual and practice can strengthen your work and invite different kinds of intelligence.

  • PRACTICE: Make intentional time and space for celebration of wins and grieving of losses, big and small.

  • PRACTICE: Hold a voluntary virtual “open mic” space for folks to share a poem, story, song, game, etc. Incorporate poetry, storytelling, music, dance, and play into your regular meetings.

  • PRACTICE: Notice when you are talking about longings to be in deeper relationship with your community, with the land and the more-than-human world, or with yourselves. Explore how you can act on these longings. Spend some intentional time outside during a long meeting. Host a neighborhood gathering just to hang out. Incorporate time for personal practices into the processes of your organization.

  • PRACTICE: Create gratitude practices. One democratic school in Germany hosts an end of week meeting where the mic is open for any student, teacher, or staff member to express gratitude for somebody else that week. In some food co-ops the membership directs a portion of their financial surplus to movement organizations that rely on donations, as a way to say thank you. In one self-managed organization, staff are given a small sum of money annually to spend thanking somebody in their life, and the only string is they have to come back and tell the group what they did. Find what makes the most sense culturally for your community.