Reversing inequality locally and beyond

As income gaps among Americans continue to widen, should the country look toward a new progressive era or keep on the same path hoping trends will inevitably change? A number of new, long-term approaches to create a more equitable economic system have been adopted across the country in recent years, including Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, OH – a leading example of community wealth building initiatives in the U.S. (NPQ, 3/10)

What is encouraging is that, across the country, there are many signs that frustration is forcing exactly the kind of experimentation with new institutions that may one day become a significant part of the power base of a new politics and that may also suggest principles for larger national application—efforts that may also slowly help lay foundations for a long-term approach capable of reversing deepening inequality. Critically, at their core, these experiments involve a new principle, something quite different for the new era—at first locally, ultimately potentially nationally: the idea that wealth ownership must be democratized both in theory and in on-the-ground practice, building slowly from experiments to larger scale.

Essentially, a new strategic paradigm—the idea that democratizing ownership can begin locally—is emerging around the nation. Especially important has been the expansion of worker and community cooperatives—an old form now exploding in relevance around the nation in communities that have been left behind and writhing in pain as national and international forces both turn their backs on locality and find it impossible to enact even modest policies of significant assistance.


One particularly impressive effort involves the Evergreen Cooperatives—a complex of linked cooperative businesses owned by workers from the surrounding low-income communities and established to create green jobs (and democratized ownership) by capturing procurement dollars from the “anchor institutions” as they make their supply chains more sustainable.

Related: An initiative similar to the Evergreen Cooperatives is underway here in our region. In a post last month, Tamara shared how that vision came to fruition, with a new initiative led by City First Enterprises launching in Prince George’s County known as the Community Clean Water Management Group. (Daily, 2/18) For more information about the Community Wealth Building Initiative, check out past Daily posts HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

FOOD | Want to eat nutritious food? If you don’t get a raise, you’re out of luck (WaPo, 3/10)

EVENTS | On Monday, March 16 at 5:30 PM, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region will hold their 2015 Annual Celebration of Philanthropy at The Mead Center for American Theater. For more information and to purchase tickets for this fun night of performances, networking and more, click here.

– The D.C. Office of Planning is looking into creating a greater supply of family housing in multi-family buildings amid a sea of new studio and one-bedroom units that cater to a very different audience in the city. (WCP, 3/11)

Advocates inclined toward housing deregulation argue that the best course of action is simply to allow more housing to be built, by lifting zoning restrictions on building height and density. Supply will then catch up with demand, and costs will come down.

But that raises the next “for whom” question, one about household composition. The majority of the new apartments and condos rising up in D.C.’s hottest neighborhoods are studios and one-bedrooms. These units cater to the young, childless professionals who have flooded the city in recent years, but don’t do much for the larger families who are feeling pinched.

– Map Fix: See Where Low-Income Families Are Being Replaced by DC Singles (DCInno, 3/10)

LGBT | A new report evaluating the status of the Metropolitan Police Department’s fulfillment of recommendations made by the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force, shows that much more should be done in the District to better the department’s relationship with the LGBTQ community. Many of the recommendations show little-to-no progress since they were first proposed. (DCist, 3/10)

EDUCATION | Anxiety abounds as DC schools roll out new, harder tests (GGW, 3/11)

While one half of this couple may be wrapped up in email controversy, the other half has probably forgotten his password a long time ago….and has no plans to recover it.

– Ciara