On Tuesday, June 17, over 115 people joined PACA at Christ Church Neighborhood House to learn and exchange ideas about Philadelphia’s time banks, community financing, and co-ops at the Solidarity Economy Forum.
The goal of the event was to inform Philadelphians about the solidarity economy concept and to showcase existing Philadelphia organizations that comprise the city’s solidarity movement. These organizations all share a commitment to people and community, rather than profit, and are rooted in the principles of participation and cooperation. During the forum, people from these organizations talked with attendees about the mission and vision of their enterprises. The event also sought to promote networking and connection building among attendees as a part of different organizations and communities.
Co-sponsored by PACA and Cabot Creamery Cooperative, the event opened with time for attendees to get to know one another and talk with representatives from the local organizations, including: Solar States, Wissahickon Village Cohousing, Philadelphia Service Cooperative, MilkCrate, and Kensington Community Food Co-op.
Attendees also enjoyed Cabot cheese samples and other light refreshments. The forum commenced with Esteban Kelly, a member of the PACA Steering Committee, introducing the night’s seven exciting speakers, representing a diversity of Philly organizations. Over the next hour, the speakers shared ideas with attendees about Philly’s solidarity economy and the co-ops, time banks and other community-based organizations that comprise it.
Craig Borowiak, a professor at Haverford College and solidarity economy researcher, explained the concept of the solidarity economy. Describing the solidarity economy as an overarching concept that prioritizes community development and sustainability, Craig reminded everyone that business alternatives are not limited and should cooperate with one another. “One major feature of the solidarity economy is that it’s not only in how much GDP is generated but in community,” Craig said.
Time Banks USA co-founders Drs. Edgar Cahn and Christine Gray spoke about the origin of the time banking model and how it organizes communities to come together and share resources. “We have not inherited the world from our ancestors,” Edgar noted. “We have borrowed it from our descendants.”
Bertha Sarminta and Elizabeth Frantz, representing respectively the community finance organizations Finanta and The Reinvestment Fund, shared the microphone to speak about the importance of investing in local communities and how their organizations model this. The Reinvestment Fund focuses on “Positive broad-based impacts, like job creation and access to healthy food,” Elizabeth shared. Bertha added how local communities can pool together money to support one another, noting that “Many local immigrants are familiar with informal economic institutions and backing each other’s loans.”
Ariel Morales of the Women’s Community Revitalization Project described the Philadelphia Land Bank and its challenges and promise.
The evening closed with words from Esteban Kelly and Peter Frank, another member of the PACA Steering Committee, about the importance of people-centered, community-based business models. “Rather than being an alternative, we are providing an economic imperative,” he declared, to a rousing response from attendees.
The night was full of good conversation, networking, solidarity economy information sharing and fun. A big thanks to everyone who came out for the event and to Cabot Creamery Cooperative for all of their support. If you are interested in learning more about PACA or becoming a member, check out the ‘Join Us’ tab on our webpage. And stay tuned for future PACA sponsored events!