After 2 years of planning and organizing, the Greater Boston Chamber of Cooperatives has garnered enough support from our city officials to hold a City Council Hearing on cooperatives. The purpose of the hearing is to discuss the role of cooperative businesses and housing in creating a more just, sustainable and democratic Boston economy. The chamber’s lead organizer, Matt Meyer, stated that
“This is a rare opportunity to make a dramatic difference in the cooperative economy of our city. A big turnout for this one hearing could shape the dynamics of our advocacy work for years to come.”
Representatives from A Yard & A Half Landscaping Cooperative will be there. Can you make it? Either way, can you invite friends? Click here to RSVP or share the Facebook event.
The organization leading the hearing, the Greater Boston Chamber of Cooperatives, is an association of locally-owned worker, consumer and housing cooperatives. A Yard & A Half has participated in the Chamber’s activities for over 6 months. Even though we are based in Waltham, A Yard & A Half has benefited from our ability to participate in City of Boston contracts in the past, and we want to see that same economic opportunity extended to other coops. In addition, many of our members are Boston residents and want to see an expansion of City support for cooperatives.
At the hearing, panels of worker-owners and members of other cooperative businesses and residences will share stories of how their cooperatives have made a difference in their own lives and in that of their communities. Cooperatives have, in particular, benefited communities with limited access to capital and Boston residents facing barriers to employment or housing. These entrepreneurs have faced significant challenges in cooperative ownership. They will speak to the need for city support for their co-ops in 3 key areas:
- Technical Assistance
- Policy Reform
Boston is not alone in this advocacy work. Madison, Wisconsin recently committed $5 million to cooperative development. The mayor of Madison, Paul Soglin, expressed his support in saying that,
“We know that worker-owned businesses are more likely to provide living wage jobs and profit sharing to their members, and are less likely to leave the community they are in.”
And in 2015, New York City tripled the number of local worker cooperatives by doubling their commitment to cooperative development to $2.1 million.
The more people who show their support at City Hall on December 12th, the more we can convince our city officials that cooperatives strengthen our local economy and put economic development in the hands of those who need it the most.