Green Worker Coops Academy News

In my last post, I was remiss in failing to highlight  the efforts being made to bridge the education gap in the United States. In addition to the Peer Technical Assistance Network through the US Federation’s Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI), the really cool and wonderful people in the Bronx have been hard at work creating institutions of social transformation!

We need more organizations like Green Worker Cooperatives throughout the country.

The following is the most recent press release sent out  by Sonia Pichardo in celebration of their academy graduates:

South Bronx, July 20, 2009- Green Worker Cooperatives Co-op Academy Graduates Create Green Businesses

Green Worker Cooperatives is proud to announce our Co-op Academy graduates, Eddie Charles, Don Butterfield, Chris Michaels, William Cerf, Joel Frank, Janco Damas, Jerry Kahn, and Jerome Villanueva.

Green Worker Cooperatives is a local, green, and democratic worker co-op business incubator. Its goal is to create jobs and keep Bronx communities clean for the people who live in them. The Green Worker Co- op Academy is a program that ran for 16 weeks. This intensive business program has taught participants how to develop South Bronx based environmentally-friendly businesses. Students learned about issues dealing with the most beneficial ways to run a worker co-op. In addition, the participants were taught how to prepare a real world business plan. Graduate Jerome Villanueva said, “ As a worker-owner you are hands on, you help out and you get dirty, here the community will actually see the owner.”

The graduates of the most recent Co-op Academy class have already started expanding their ideas into reality. Aquatecture and La Obrera are two worker co-ops currently in the incubation stage. Chris Michaels and William Cerf have begun steps to launch their 24/7 green diner in the South Bronx. Don Butterfield, Jerry Kahn and Eddie Charles are the founders of Aquatecture, a worker-coop to introduce solar energy and renewable energy in the Bronx. Jerome Villanueva, Janco Damas, and Joel Frank are the new transitioning worker owners at ReBuilders Source.

Rebuilders Source is a re-use store that takes in donated used or new building materials and sells those materials for below retail price. Rebuilders Source latest transitioning member, Janco Damas states, “We need to encourage responsible disposal of all these materials.” This is the first worker-owned building material center in the world. It is a viable alternative for contractors and homeowners from putting perfectly good building materials into the landfill.

Registration for the Fall 2009 Coop Academy class can be done if you attend an open house at 461 Timpson Place in Bronx NY on August 22nd. Visit www.greeenworker.coop. to register to attend the open house or to view videos of our graduates.

GREEN WORKER COOPERATIVES is a South Bronx-based organization dedicated to incubating worker-owned and environmentally friendly cooperatives in the South Bronx. Our approach is a response to high unemployment and decades of environmental racism. We don’t have the luxury to wait for new alternatives. That’s why we’re creating them. We believe that in order to address our environmental and economic problems we need new ways to earn a living that don’t require polluting the earth or exploiting human labor.

About John McNamara

John spent 26 years with Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and currently helps develop co-op in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a Masters in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary's University and hopes to finish his Ph.D. in Business Administration soon. He has served on the board of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and the Board of Governors for the Democracy at Work Network. He currently sits on the Co-op Circle and Mission Circle for Sociocracy for All. He teaches on worker co-operatives and democratic management in the summer at The Evergreen State College.
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