Gratitude, Accompanied by Squash

Hulky reads The WeaveMy sweetheart and I went to the Sustainable Economies Law Center’s (SELC)  annual celebration last week and came home with a large Sibley squash, whom we have christened Hulky. (That’s Hulky on the left, reading The Weave.) Since there’s no rush to put Hulky on the dinner menu – it’s a winter squash, so it will keep for quite awhile according to the farmer who grew it – we’ve been photographing its exploits.

I’m not quite sure what the connection is between SELC and squash. Jim tells me that squash have been used as décor/party favors at every SELC event he’s ever been to. It might be because SELC works with some farmers who happen to grow squash, which comes ripe just in time for autumn parties.

Or maybe SELC executive director Janelle Orsi is just extremely fond of squash.

Anyway, while we are enjoying Hulky, my real purpose in this post is to express my gratitude for SELC and its cousins throughout the world: progressive organizations that are working to create effective economic structures that work for everybody.

When I was young, my involvement in progressive political movements led me into co-ops. While I found (and still find) many things to protest in our society, I liked focusing my efforts on building a solid institution instead of just demanding change. One of the food co-ops I helped to found in the 70s – Wheatsville  – is still going strong in Austin, and the co-op movement in that city has seen a rebound in recent years. (If you’re in the area, check out Black Star Brewing Co-op. Awesome beer.)

My last job as a practicing attorney was running a non-profit legal services program that, among other things, helped tenant groups buy their apartment buildings and turn them in to owner-occupied co-ops. And of course, today I’m part of Book View Café, which, as most of our readers know, is a publishing co-op. My interest in coming up with better economic systems has not diminished.

But I wish I’d been able to go to work for an organization like SELC back when I got out of law school. Or perhaps what I wish is that I’d have had the inspiration to create something like it back in the day.

SELC doesn’t just advise groups on how to set up their co-ops or related businesses. It actively works to change laws that get in the way of those businesses and it also has people in charge of coming up with creative ideas for programs that don’t exist, like a statewide water trust for California or an investment co-op to help people make investments and borrow money.

Every time I talk to someone from SELC, they’ve come up with another good idea.

SELC is not alone. There are many similar organizations out there. Another one I’m grateful for is the Ohio Employee Ownership Program, which was started by an old friend of mine from college, the late John Logue. They have helped a lot of employees buy their companies and keep their jobs when the corporations that originally owned them wanted to shut them down.

The Austin Cooperative Business Association is helping grow more co-ops in Austin. And there are many other organizations – some listed on the website of the New Economy Coalition — doing something interesting and similar.

I’m very grateful for all of these people working for constructive economic change.

And also for squash.

Hulky and Luna





Gratitude, Accompanied by Squash — 4 Comments

  1. Indeed, gratitude is more than due to these people and their organizations that still organize to actively work for social and economic positive change.

    One of the problems for economic and social justice is there are so few cracks and crannies where people can even gather these days. Yesterday, we were at WBAI, doing a taping for an hour’s program on The American Slave Coast. The day before that at WNYC, doing live a 25 minute segment. The difference between the two — BAI, being Pacifica Radio, and WNYC being NPR — was so vast. WBAI is slick, in extensive quarters of several floors, with its own theater, in one of the most desirable locations in Manhattan, and right around the corner from us, almost. WBAI is hidden away on the third floor of a building in a totally torn up, ungentrified area of Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn — and very difficult to get to or even find. Indeed, finding two working microphones were hard to find at WBAI. And this, as el V, commented, is what remains of what was leftist New York.

    Everything and everywhere, including what used to be public space, is occupied by the capitalist, right-wing class here, leaving no room for anyone who can’t pay the Donald Trump decreed market rate for it. It’s not an accident that the most openly fascist declared candidate for POTUS is a New York real estate developer.

    • I think progressive Oakland has a larger presence than other places, but the pressures of real estate development are a big concern out here and having an effect on the ability of people to be able to afford to do good work. The more I look at what we need to change in our society, the more I see the need to rein in real estate development.

  2. It’s good to know about SELC. I’m glad somebody is out there pushing.

    On an utterly frivolous note, do you know about the cats and cucumbers meme? That last photo would rock that world.

    • I have heard about the cats and cucumbers meme. Luna’s initial reaction to the squash, when we brought it home and laid in on the floor, included a jump in the air (that I didn’t get on camera, alas), and a lot of sniffing. I’ve been posting various squash pictures on Facebook as well, with and without cats!