20BookClubs Jessica

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Right now, 20 groups of people in the Philadelphia area are forming community-owned and worker-owned cooperative businesses in the Philadelphia area. In September, these groups started meeting twice a month to learn about co-ops in study circles, a method rooted in African American and Philadelphia cooperative history. Each group is choosing resources like books, articles, oral history, videos, field trips, comics, and podcasts to learn how to start a business and why to do so together. Through study, reflection, and discussion, each group will identify an unmet need in their community and create a shared vision of a new cooperative business to meet that need. After six months, groups that are ready to move forward with their business idea can access training, business advice, and financing to help them open their cooperative business.

A note on language: we use the terms “book clubs” and “study circles” interchangeably.

Meet the 20 Study Circles!

Several study circles pose for a photo at one of three launch events in September.
Several study circles pose for a photo at one of three launch events in September.

A & Associates members are passionate about self-help and responsibility, community engagement, justice, and equity. They believe cooperative businesses are essential to building a better world and that the the prospect of blending one’s passions with one’s craft gives new meaning to the word work. By studying together about worker co-ops, they hope to start a cooperative bookkeeping company that serves Philadelphia’s cooperative businesses.

View the December 2016 blog post on A & Associates

 

Arts Culture and Community is a group of five Black single parents who want to cooperatively be a support system, provide financial assistance and employment, build jobs, offer arts and culture education, and open hearts and eyes in their community.

Connect:
Email: ACACPHL@gmail.com

 

Black Communities Action Committee is a successful online susu (lending circle) that has been in existence for two years and has lent out over $5,000. Its twenty-nine members are studying ways to expand the susu's reach locally and online.

Connect:
Facebook friend Monica Wright and you will be added to the group
Email: Phillychildcare@aol.com
Website: visit the current susu cycle


Cooperativa PWA is a group of laborers who work in the building industry in Philadelphia. They seek to benefit the people of Philadelphia through their work and their services. Most group members come from other countries and want to improve their living conditions and quality of life. They are planning to study how to form their own construction cooperative.

View the October 2016 blog post on Cooperativa PWA
Connect:
Facebook group


Get Along Cooperative seeks to create a housing cooperative and cooperatively run event space for social justice minded artists, creators and entrepreneurs to live in, work in, and play in. They’d like to purchase a small apartment building or adjacent houses to form a co-housing community where members can lead private lives and also participate in a larger community.

 

The Kensington Tool Library study circle, facilitated by New Kensington CDC, is a group of people (fixers, artists, homeowners, makers, handymen, etc.) who call Kensington home-base and are interested in exploring the cooperative business model as a tool to lower barriers to entry for entrepreneurship, bridge community barriers, and increase affordability particularly through the lens of starting a library that lends tools instead of books for home repair projects, artists & makers, civic projects, neighborhood clean ups, gardening, informal handymen & more.


Mexcon is a group of immigrants from Mexico who work together in a construction company. They want to continue working together by formalizing as a worker-owned cooperative, where they can participate not just as workers but as members and owners.

Connect:
Facebook


Media Mobilizing Project is incubating a media services coop that will make videos, photography, graphic design, communications campaigns and more for community organizations, organizing campaigns, and nonprofits. The coop will create jobs for our community of social justice storytellers and grow capacity for high-quality movement media production in our region.

View the December 2016 blog post on Media Mobilizing Project

Connect:
Facebook
Twitter: @mediamobilizing
Instagram: @media_mobilizing
Website: www.mediamobilizing.org

 

Neighborhood Foods believes that a co-op can address the need for development of a localized food system in the Haddington neighborhood of West Philadelphia. Their desire is to shift power within the current food system, so that the community can grow and access food, free from pesticides, in their own neighborhood.

Connect:
Facebook: Urban Tree Connection
Website

 

The People’s Emergency Center (PEC) has been a community empowerment and resource center for over thirty years and works with its Neighborhood Advisory Committee (comprised of local residents, elected by their neighbors, to represent their interest and work along with PEC) to address community issues from the ground level. Currently, there are limited options for healthy food shopping in the area. The development of a cooperative business that sells affordable whole food options, would provide refuge in a perpetual food desert.

Connect:
Facebook
Twitter: @LancAvePhilly
Instagram: @lancavephilly
Website

 

Project SAFE seeks to establish an alternative banking system run by sex workers for sex workers. The overarching goal of this program is to help sex workers build assets and collectively address economic challenges they face as individuals, communities, and members of a stratified society.

 

The Philly Black Healers Collective believes that Black and Brown people are powerful and possess all that is needed to heal themselves; the collective creates a platform for that healing to happen. Diverse spiritual and healing-oriented  services are made easily accessible to communities and individuals that have experienced or continue to experience trauma. Services focus on culturally-centered and culturally-relevant healing and wellness practices.  The Philly Black Healers Collective believes that a cooperative model of business best reflects their spiritual and cultural values and allows them to be accountable to each other for continuing a journey of healing and wellness.

View the November 2016 blog post on Philly Black Healers Collective


Plant it, Planet will be the umbrella collective entity that will replicate sustainable food models in vacant spaces in Chester, Pa.  They want to create a network of sustainable systems that, 1) demonstrate the feasibility of local, walkable food sources; 2) create an intergenerational learning community; 3) use resident voice, autonomy, and sweat equity to affect change in their community; 4) develop a platform for local artists and professionals to engage the community.

View the October 2016 blog post on Plant it, Planet


Provision Vocational Training Center’s mission is to provide an array of innovative and effective services, community development, employment and entrepreneurship training to individuals who are homeless, in recovery, ex-offenders, veterans, and young adults seeking self-sufficiency. PVTC believes the cooperative economic model supports their mission and can serve the interests of their Logan community participants well.

 

Serenity Soular aims to start a worker-owned solar installation cooperative based in North Philadelphia and grounded in environmental justice principles and love. They imagine their business incorporating workforce development and creating jobs for people who need them.

Connect:
Facebook
Twitter: @serenitysoular
Instagram: @serenitysoular
Website


Soil Generation is a black-led radical gardening coalition. Members of the coalition are first and foremost local residents that participate in growing food for the communities in which they work and/or live. We are working to build the cohesive, grassroots movement needed to change our food system by combining our experiences, ideas and clout to build the radical movement needed to reform city policies and address racism that affects the health of our communities. Soil Generation is looking to become a multi-stakeholder cooperative to support the environmental justice and artistic interests of their members and the community they serve.

Connect:
Facebook
Website

South Philly Barbacoa is a traditional Mexican barbacoa restaurant that is considering converting to a worker-owned cooperative so that every worker, no matter their status or record, can be a part owner of their successful, growing business. South Philly Barbacoa advocates for the undocumented immigrant community through their #right2work events.

Connect:
Facebook
Twitter: @lambtacos
Instagram: @barbacoachef
Website


Southeast by Southeast (Refugee Women’s Textile Initiative)’s goal is to use the complementary resources of PACA’s 20 Bookclubs → 20 Cooperative program and the Commerce Department’s “Start-Up PHL” grant to provide mentorship, technical support, and guidance to refugee women involved with Refugee Women’s Textile Initiative (RWTI) and Mural Arts Philadelphia at the Southeast by Southeast hub space.  Partnering with PACA will support efforts to build up the knowledge and confidence of RWTI’s participants in their value as producers in the United States and give them the tools necessary to self-organize and leverage the momentum they have built to form safer, stronger, cooperative workforces.

Connect:
Facebook
Website: https://www.muralarts.org/program/porch-light/sexse/  and www.culturalcommunities.org

 

Ulises: A Not-for-Profit Bookshop will be a not-for-profit bookshop and curatorial platform presenting exhibitions, events, and independent publications on contemporary art, design, critical studies, and visual culture. They believe the cooperative model is the most viable structure for their bookshop because they are each invested creatively in the project and want to lend their help and vision collectively and democratically towards its completion.

View the November 2016 blog post on Ulises Bookshop

Connect:
Instagram: @ulisesbooks
Website


VietLead works to build capacities of the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian community to be active, influential, and “participatory” agents of this (d)emocracy in all possible realms, particularly at the local level.  Cooperative businesses can be the location of developing these capacities while meeting economic sustainability needs of youth, adults, and elders who are generally marginalized from the current economy.

Connect:
Facebook
Twitter: @vietlead
Instagram: @vietlead

Several groups at a launch event in September.
Several groups at a launch event in September.
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Support the study circles

Make a tax-deductible donation to PACA to show your support for these diverse groups of people organizing their own co-ops!

Art by Phoebe Wahl, phoebewahl.com
Art by Phoebe Wahl, phoebewahl.com