Building a New Economy Through Platform Co-operatives

Can diverse social movements come together and find new synergies for building a new type of economy?  Last week there were some significant conversations along those lines at Goldsmiths College in London, at the Open Co-op conference. The two-day event brought together leading voices from the co-operative, open source, and collaborative economy movements as well as organized labor. The gathering featured a lot of experts on co-operative development, law, software platforms, economics and community activism.

The basic point of the conference was to:  

“imagine a transparent, democratic and decentralised economy which works for everyone. A society in which anyone can become a co-owner of the organisations on which they, their family & their community depend. A world where everyone can participate in all the decisions that affect them.

“This is not a utopian ideal, it is the natural outcome of a networked society made up of platform cooperatives; online organisations owned and managed by their members. By providing a viable alternative to the standard internet business model based on monopoly and extraction, platform cooperatives provide a template for a new type of organisation – forming the building blocks for a new economy.”

The idea of “platform co-operatives” – launched at a seminal New York City conference in November 2015 co-organized by Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider – has quickly found a following internationally. People have begun to realize how Uber, Airbnb, Taskrabbit and countless other network platforms are distressingly predatory, using venture capital money and algorithms to override health, safety and labor standards and municipal governance itself.

The London event showed the breadth and depth of interest in this topic – and in the vision of creating a new type of global economy.  There were folks like Felix Weth, founder of Fairmondo, a German online marketplace and web-based co-op owned by its users; Brianna Werttlaufer, cofounder and CEO of Stocksy United, an artist-owned, multistakeholder cooperative in Victoria, British Colombia; and co-operative finance and currency expert Pat Conaty.

There was a lot of talk about building new infrastructures that could mutualize the benefits from local businesses while connecting to a larger global network of co-ops sharing the same values.  Among the tools mentioned for achieving this goal: Mondragon-style co-ops, government procurement policies to favor local co-ops, shifting deposits to local credit unions, and crowdfunding citizen-led community development projects.

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Don’t Mourn, Commonify! The European Commons Assembly Convenes

Across Europe, a vision of the commons has been emerging in the margins for many years.  But now, as the credibility of conventional politics and neoliberal economics plummets, commoners are becoming more visible, assertive and organized. The latest evidence comes from the first meeting of a newly formed European Commons Assembly. More than 150 commoners from 21 countries across Europe gathered in Brussels for the three-day event, from November 15 to 17.

The Assembly was organized by Sophie Bloemen and David Hammerstein of the Berlin-based European Commons Network, in collaboration with other commons advocates and organizations. Two sets of Assembly meetings were held at the Zinneke collective, based in an old stamp factory in Brussels that the nonprofit collective had reclaimed.  Another meeting was held in the stately European Parliament building, hosted by supportive members of the European Parliament who sit on the Working Group on Common Goods, within the Intergroup on Common Goods and Public Services.

Bloemen and Hammerstein recently wrote about the meetings:

This movement of commoners has been growing across Europe over the last decade, but last week it came together for the first time in a transnational European constellation. The objectives of the meetings were multiple but the foremost goal was to connect and form a stable but informal transnational commons movement in Europe. The political energy generated by bringing all these people together in this context was tremendous.

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Even MORE Upcoming FCSS Sessions!

So this weekend is the start of the Florida Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference. Have you registered yet? Are you coming? We hope you are coming, because we have some awesome sessions lined up. You can learn more about the keynote speaker here, and you can go here and here to get get an overview of some of the sessions we have planned. So with that out of the way, let’s take another look at some of the quality sessions we have lined up for you this weekend.

Saturday Morning, Concurrent Session 1

Factors Relating to U.S. History End of Course Exam for African American Students Irenea Walker, University of Central Florida

If social studies teachers properly alter their pedagogical approaches, African American students can learn to appreciate learning about historical facts. This paper focuses upon creative lessons that focus on interactive activities to peak interest.

eoc-graphic

Engaging the 21st Century Learner Amanda Mudlock and Rich Sayers, Pearson

Build academic skills for 21st century students through inquiry-based learning by facilitating easy projects, civic discussions, and document-based questions. Teach students to take ownership of their ideas, work together, and communicate clearly. 

21st-cent-kid

Curating Your Collection: Promoting Content Area Literacy by Giving Student Tools
to Explore Social Studies Texts  Heather Cerra, Northwest Elementary School, Hillsborough County Public Schools

How can teachers spark student interest in informational and historical fiction texts related to social studies content? Using a unique framework, teachers can build student engagement and realize student growth in the areas of vocabulary and comprehension. (Elementary Session!)

hillsborough

Saturday Afternoon, Concurrent Session 2

The Great Travel Fair: A Cross-Curricular Unit of Study Amy Trujillo, Orange / Orlando Science Elementary School

Now in it’s fourth year, The Great Travel Fair combines ELA, Science, Social Studies, and Math in order for students to understand the regions of the United States through a balance of 21st century skills. 

interdisciplinary
Public History, Memory, and Survival: Producing History Through Student
Centered Technology  Joshua Stern, St. Johns Country Day School

Attendees will learn how to use iMovie to allow students to bring stories of Holocaust survival to life. Students become active public historians and create meaningful results by preserving and transmitting these vital personal histories.

imovie

Saturday Afternoon, Concurrent Session 3

St. Augustine Civil Rights Movement: Seamless Integration into your Classroom Blake Pridgen & Benjamin Rome, Flagler College

Utilizing the primary sources in Flagler College’s Civil Rights Library of St. Augustine (CRLSA: http://civilrights.flagler.edu), teachers will learn to effectively teach Florida’s involvement in the civil rights movement, grades 4-12.

crlsa

Sunday Morning, Concurrent Session 7

The State of the Assessment: Civics End-of-Course Assessment Stacy Skinner, Ed. D., Social Studies Coordinator, Test Development Center; Elise Beachy, Annette Boyd Pitts, Robert Brazofsky, Maureen Carter, Erin Conklin, Christy Disinger, George Masek, Stephen Masyada, Ph.D., Peggy Renihan, Chris Spinale, Jackie Viana

This annual conference message about the middle school Civics EOCA will provide an overview of implementation, a review of student performance data, and a discussion about test development with Florida educators involved in the process. (Note: A similiar session around the US History EOCA will be offered earlier in the morning.)

Demographic Breakdown

Achievement Level by Demographic Background

Context and Comparison: At the heart of AP World History Robert Strayer and Patrick Whelan, Bedford, Freeman & Worth Publishers

This session provides resources—both content and pedagogical—for effectively teaching contextualization and its companion skill of comparison. It addresses the much increased role of contextual thinking in the new exam format. 

apworldspongebob

 

This has been just taste of the possibilities. Please be sure to check out additional session descriptions at 2016-fcss-session-descriptions, and earlier posts on what is shaping up to be a great conference session here, here, here, and here on why you should attend! Hey, it will be worth it for the trick or treating alone!

You can register for FCSS online. It’s a great and affordable conference, and a chance to meet folks you can work with and learn from. Hope to see you here in Orlando. The hashtag for the conference, by the way, will be #FLCSS16. Join us!


More Upcoming FCSS Conference Sessions

Don’t forget that the FCSS Conference comes soon! In our last post, we highlighted some interesting conference sessions that may be of interest to a wide variety of audiences. So how about we take a look at some more intriguing sessions!

Saturday Morning, Concurrent Session One

Making Connections in CIVICS with the Interactive Notebook, Patricia Kroeger, Destin Middle School,Okaloosa County Public Schools

Teachers will learn Interactive Notebook strategies that connect student learning to the benchmark essential questions, practice test-taking strategies, and connect currentevents to concepts of government.
Note: as a civics educator, this sounds fantastic. always looking for new ways to approach instruction!

interactives

 

Saturday Afternoon, Concurrent Session Two

Publishing in Social Studies Journals, Dr. Scott M. Waring, University of Central Florida

The presenter edits several social studies journals (Social Studies and the Young Learner, CITE –Social Studies, and Social Studies Research and Practice). He will discuss the process of publishing in various social studies journals.
Note: This is a great opportunity to learn how to provide service to the field!

ssyl sw cite
Saturday Afternoon, Concurrent Session 3

Preparing Teachers to Meet the Holocaust Mandate in Elementary Grades Ilene Allgood & Rachayita Shah, Florida Atlantic University, Maureen Carter, Palm Beach County Schools

A Genocide Studies Unit was developed for an undergraduate multicultural course, and studied for its effectiveness in preparing pre-service teachers to implement the State-mandated Holocaust curriculum in grades K-12th.

kids-holo

Two brothers sitting for a family portrait in the Kovno ghetto (one month before they were deported to the Majdanek extermination camp) from http://genocide.leadr.msu.edu/representing-the-children-of-the-holocaust/

 
Sunday Morning, Concurrent Session 5

What to Expect on January 20, 2017?      Terri Susan Fine, University of Central Florida/ Florida Joint Center for Citizenship

What happens during the first year of a new presidency? This session will address how the president uses the first 100 days of the new administration, organizing Congress, and connecting campaign promises to policy proposals.

wash-inaug

Oil painting of George Washington’s inauguration as the first President of the United States which took place on April 30, 1789. Encyclopedia Britannica, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Washington%27s_Inauguration.jpg


And of course please don’t forget the fantastic keynote we have lined up! Please be sure to register now! We look forward to seeing you in Orlando.

 


Upcoming FCSS Conference Highlights

Don’t forget that the FCSS Conference comes soon! I just want to take a few minutes and highlight some interesting conference sessions that may be of interest to a wide variety of audiences.

Saturday morning, Concurrent Session 1:

If this is a Woman: FKL Ravensbruck Tom Glaser, Mater Academy Charter High School

Ravensbruck was the only main concentration camp for women, and it held an astonishing variety of nationalities and reasons for incarceration. It was the last place where gassings took place. Learn about this often neglected aspect of the Holocaust.

Key People and Places: Focus on Famous Floridians Lesley Mace, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta – Jacksonville Branch Gloria Guzman, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta – Miami Branch

Join this interactive session featuring new ways to teach about Florida’s famous entrepreneurs. Participate in a hands-on lesson and discover a free tool for creating fun cellphone/tablet quiz games to reinforce and assess student learning. 

512px-us-federalreservesystem-seal-svg

Saturday, Concurrent Session 2:

Students Investigating Primary Sources: A FJCC & National Archives Partnership Val McVey, Florida Joint Center for Citizenship Dr. Charles Flanagan, Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives

Come learn about S.I.P.S.! Learn how to access and implement a new series of primary source activities and experience new distance learning services from the National Archives to make S.I.P.S. come to life in your classroom!

sips-11

 

Engaging Social Studies in the Early Childhood Classroom (K-3) Kassie Erenstoft, Brevard Public Schools

Bring social studies to life for your youngest learners. Join us to discuss engaging, document analysis strategies to enrich social studies discussions in kindergarten through third grade classrooms. 

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And of course please don’t forget the fantastic keynote we have lined up! Please be sure to register now! We look forward to seeing you in Orlando.

 


Thom Hartmann Gives the Commons Some Rare National Visibility

Yesterday evening, Thom Hartmann, the progressive talk show host, interviewed me on his "Conversations with Great Minds" national TV show.  The first 12-minute video segment can be seen here, and the second one here. I don't think the commons has ever had this much airtime on American (cable) television.

A big salute to Thom for hosting this kind of material on his show. He is a rare creature on American TV and radio -- an intelligent progressive willing to give airtime to ideas from outside the Washington, D.C. echo chamber. Since the retirement of Bill Moyers, there are very few American TV personalities who actually read history, understand how it informs contemporary politics, and give sympathetic exposure to movement struggles seeking social and economic transformation. 

Since I'm sharing links, let me also share the link to my 20-minute presentation yesterday at Ralph Nader's conference, "Breaking Through Power.org" conference, which is being held this week in Washington, D.C.  My talk, "Controlling What We Own -- Defending the Commons," can be seen here at the timemark 5:35:15.

Check out the other presentations on this eight-hour video from Real News Network -- some amazing segments by folks like John Bogle, William Lerach, Ellen Brown and others focused on corporate governance, power and financial abuses.

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Upcoming SOURCES Conference: Teaching with Primary Sources!

TPS

Friends, it is time once again to alert you to a fantastic primary source driven conference that is held here at UCF. Dr. Scott Waring, Program Coordinator and Associate Professor for the Social Science Education Program at the University of Central Florida, is organizing his SOURCES conference, and I encourage you to register and attend. Registration is free, and having attended last year’s conference myself, well worth the time. Information on the conference and the registration link is provided below. I hope to see you there!

The Teaching with Primary Sources Program at the University of Central Florida (TPS-UCF) will be hosting the second annual SOURCES Annual Conference at the University of Central Florida on January 16, 2016.  The SOURCES Annual Conference is a free opportunity available to any educators interested in the utilization and integration of primary sources into K-12 teaching.  Presenters will focus on providing strategies for using primary sources to help K-12 students engage in learning, develop critical thinking skills, and build content knowledge, specifically in one or more of the following ways:
 
  • Justifying conclusions about whether a source is primary or secondary depending upon the time or topic under study;
  • Describing examples of the benefits of teaching with primary sources;
  • Analyzing a primary source using Library of Congress tools;
  • Accssing teaching tools and primary sources from www.loc.gov/teachers;
  • Identifying key considerations for selecting primary sources for instructional use (for example, student needs and interests, teaching goals, etc.);
  • Accessing primary sources and teaching resources from www.loc.gov for instructional use;
  • Analyzing primary sources in different formats;
  • Analyzing a set of related primary sources in order to identify multiple perspectives;
  • Demonstrating how primary sources can support at least one teaching strategy (for example, literacy, inquiry-based learning, historical thinking, etc.); and
  • Presenting a primary source-based activity that helps students engage in learning, develop critical thinking skills and construct knowledge.
 
Registration is free and is now open for the SOURCES Annual Conference.  Please complete the information on the following linked page to register for the SOURCES Conference: http://ucf.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_02M6I0hSrdTDGPb

Upcoming SOURCES Conference: Teaching with Primary Sources!

TPS

Friends, it is time once again to alert you to a fantastic primary source driven conference that is held here at UCF. Dr. Scott Waring, Program Coordinator and Associate Professor for the Social Science Education Program at the University of Central Florida, is organizing his SOURCES conference, and I encourage you to register and attend. Registration is free, and having attended last year’s conference myself, well worth the time. Information on the conference and the registration link is provided below. I hope to see you there!

The Teaching with Primary Sources Program at the University of Central Florida (TPS-UCF) will be hosting the second annual SOURCES Annual Conference at the University of Central Florida on January 16, 2016.  The SOURCES Annual Conference is a free opportunity available to any educators interested in the utilization and integration of primary sources into K-12 teaching.  Presenters will focus on providing strategies for using primary sources to help K-12 students engage in learning, develop critical thinking skills, and build content knowledge, specifically in one or more of the following ways:
 
  • Justifying conclusions about whether a source is primary or secondary depending upon the time or topic under study;
  • Describing examples of the benefits of teaching with primary sources;
  • Analyzing a primary source using Library of Congress tools;
  • Accssing teaching tools and primary sources from www.loc.gov/teachers;
  • Identifying key considerations for selecting primary sources for instructional use (for example, student needs and interests, teaching goals, etc.);
  • Accessing primary sources and teaching resources from www.loc.gov for instructional use;
  • Analyzing primary sources in different formats;
  • Analyzing a set of related primary sources in order to identify multiple perspectives;
  • Demonstrating how primary sources can support at least one teaching strategy (for example, literacy, inquiry-based learning, historical thinking, etc.); and
  • Presenting a primary source-based activity that helps students engage in learning, develop critical thinking skills and construct knowledge.
 
Registration is free and is now open for the SOURCES Annual Conference.  Please complete the information on the following linked page to register for the SOURCES Conference: http://ucf.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_02M6I0hSrdTDGPb

Commoners Descend on Chieri, Italy, for Major Festival

Italians once again took the vanguard in advancing the commons paradigm by hosting a three-day festival in Chieri, a town of 60,000 people on the outskirts of Torino, Italy.  The International Festival of the Commons featured films, musical performances, video exhibits, lectures, panel discussions, food and drink, and lots of enjoyable conversation.

I think festivals are a fantastic way to bring together both deeply committed commoners and ordinary citizens who are just looking for a fun time with a dash of politics and education. The festival attracted hundreds of townspeople who strolled through city parking lots converted into concert spaces, and listened intently to public talks and debates about the commons. 

Jurist and politician Stefano Rodota, a prominent Italian politician who has pioneered the idea of a human right to “common assets” (things needed by everybody), spoke one evening to a packed crowd about “the commons as between solidarity and fraternity.” 

A performance at the International Festival of the Commons, Chieri, Italy.On another evening, seed activist Vandana Shiva – fresh from a series of protests against GMOs at a major food expo in Milan – spoke about the commons as living systems that should not be commodified and sold. To the great satisfaction of an audience of about 600 people, she noted that Italy is one of the few places that still produces juicy, tasty tomatoes; the rest have been so modified by agribusiness to suit global commerce that they amount to biological cardboard. Shiva did a great job of showing how the commons is not an academic abstraction, but a language for explaining why so many aspects of daily life are being degraded and how enclosures dispossess us.

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To Make Hope Possible Rather Than Despair Convincing

Last week I gave an opening lecture at Hampshire College at the launch of its new center for civic activism, the Leadership and Ethical Engagement Project. It was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on how colleges and universities could engage more directly with changing the world -- and how the commons could help open up some new fields of thought and action.  Scholarship has an important place, of course, but I also think the Academy needs to develop a more hands-on, activist-style engagement with the problems of our time.

I enjoyed the perspectives of LIz Lerman, a choreographer, performer, writer and founder of the Dance Exchange in Washington, D.C., who shared her hopes for the new center.  We shared an interest in the limits that language can impose on how we think and what we can imagine.

Below, my talk, "To Make Hope Possible Rather Than Despair Convincing," a line borrowed from the British critic Raymond Williams.  My talk introduced the commons and explained why its concerns ought to be of interest to the new Hampshire College center.

Thank you for giving me the honor of reflecting on the significance of this moment and this initiative.  It is not every day that an academic institution takes such a bold, experimental leap into the unknown on behalf of social action and the common good. 

I come to you as a dedicated activist who for the past forty years wishes there had been something like this when I was an undergraduate at Amherst College in the 1970s. I have always admired the image of what the French call l’homme engagé. I guess the closest American equivalent is “public intellectual.”  But neither of those terms quite get it right – because they don’t really express the idea of fierce intellectual engagement combined with practical action motivated by a passion for the common good. That’s the archetype that we need to cultivate today.    

We stand at a precipice in history that demands that the human species achieve some fairly unprecedented evolutionary advances. I don’t want to get into a long critique of the world’s problems, but I do think it’s safe to say that humankind now faces some fundamental and unprecedented questions. These include questions about our modern forms of social organization and governance, and questions about our planet-destroying system of maximum production and consumption.

The dark menace looming over us all, of course, is climate change – an incubus that has been haunting us for more than a generation even as our so-called leaders look the other way.  That is surely because to confront the sources of climate change is tantamount to confronting the foundations of modern industrial society itself.  Climate change is simply the most urgent of a long cascade of other environmental crises now underway – the massive species extinctions, collapsing fisheries, soil desertification, dying coral reefs, depleted groundwater, dead zones in the oceans, and so on.  Our species’ impact on the planet’s ecosystem is so pervasive that it now qualifies as a separate geological era, the Anthropocene.

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