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How Oakland Wiki Empowers the Local Community

Shareable Magazine - August 20, 2014 - 07:53

The Bay Area has a wealth of public services, but it’s not always easy to find them. The Community Resources portal of Oakland Wiki could potentially change that. An open, community-built knowledge commons, the portal's goal is to gather and make it easy to find all community resources available to the public. Among the services listed: children, youth and family resources, educational services, LGBTQ services, food projects, housing resources, health services and more.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/20 - Your Shrinking Paycheck, Teachers Fight Pay Cuts ‘By Any Means Necessary’

Chris Martenson - August 20, 2014 - 07:48
  • 36% of adults lack retirement savings, including many 65 or older
  • Average cost to raise a child hits $245,000, without college
  • State workers face health insurance cost increase
  • 'Severe' drought covers nearly 99.8% of California, report says
  • Nearly Half of Americans Think the Recession Is Not Over
  • Detroit bond deal can't send taxes to pensions, Syncora says
  • Detroit Teachers Union Will Fight Pay Cuts ‘By Any Means Necessary’
  • Earth sliding into ‘ecological debt’ earlier and earlier, campaigners warn
  • Senate studies airline fees at $6 billion and growing
  • Your paycheck has been shrinking for 5 years

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Categories: Economics

9 Ways Hydrogen Peroxide May Be Useful When SHTF

Chris Martenson - August 19, 2014 - 10:31

Some good reasons to keep a few bottles of hydrogen peroxide on hand and as part of your medical supply cabinet.

http://crisissurvivortips.com/9-ways-hydrogen-peroxide-may-be-useful-when-shtf/

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Categories: Economics

14 Online Platforms that Boost Civic Engagement

Shareable Magazine - August 19, 2014 - 09:33

Democracy relies on citizens participating in decision making. Yet in the last presidential election, less than 60 percent of Americans voted, and local elections traditionally have “abysmally low” voter turnout.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/19 - E-Bike Sales Surge, Is Global Income Inequality Really Falling?

Chris Martenson - August 19, 2014 - 07:48
  • Virtual cash heist diverts net traffic
  • Is Global Income Inequality Really Falling?
  • The U.S. Economic Collapse Will Trigger a Revolution
  • Ukraine’s Next Crisis? Economic Disaster
  • In essential speech, Ukrainian MP Viktoria Shilova demands Poroshenko government to stop the civil war, leaks actual number of war casualties
  • E-Bike Sales Are Surging in Europe
  • Water scarcity and climate change through 2095
  • Wait A Second, Are There Twigs in My Coffee?

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Categories: Economics

Is A Global Housing Bubble About To Pop?

Chris Martenson - August 18, 2014 - 21:40

Looking past all of the major events transpiring in Ukraine, Iraq, Ferguson, and other hotspots, there's still plenty of worrisome smoke emanating from the global economic engine compartment.

The most recent installment comes from what appears to be abundant signs of bursting housing bubbles in several major markets.

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Categories: Economics

How to Preserve Basil Efficiently

Chris Martenson - August 18, 2014 - 13:25

We use basil almost every time we cook. It is an extremely versatile herb that can be used in a wide variety of dishes. The problem with basil is that it is a summer annual that we only have fresh for about five months of the year. We always have a lot more fresh basil than we could ever eat. This of course leads us to want to preserve the excess basil.

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Categories: Economics

How to Clean Cast-Iron Cookware

Chris Martenson - August 18, 2014 - 12:01

Learn the simple steps to cleaning and preparing to use cast iron cookware. 

http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/clean-cast-iron-cookware-zm0z14aszsor.aspx#axzz3Alj1BeLn

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Categories: Economics

The Basics of Bikepacking

Shareable Magazine - August 18, 2014 - 09:00

Cross-posted from PeopleForBikes. Image credit: Rauckhaus.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/18 - A Year In Waste, The High Cost Of A Fresh Start

Chris Martenson - August 18, 2014 - 07:10
  • A Year In Waste
  • Missouri Governor Jay Nixon Deploys National Guard Troops to Ferguson
  • Ferguson's Fifty Year Fire
  • California Drought: Bay Area loses billions of gallons to leaky pipes
  • Global Markets and the $2.3 Trillion ETF Effect
  • Seeking New Start, Finding Steep Cost
  • Designing an Upside-Down, Hurricane-Proof Hospital for New Orleans
  • Fracking Fluids More Toxic Than Previously Thought

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Categories: Economics

Mark Sisson: Why Nutrition Is The Key To Health

Chris Martenson - August 16, 2014 - 18:51

This week, Mark Sisson -- former professional athlete, founder of Mark's Daily Apple, and developer of the Primal Blueprint health & fitness lifestyle -- returns to discuss nutrition. In his opinion, it's the single most important factor for a healthy life.

While other key components like physical exertion, good sleep, de-stressing and sun exposure contribute to overall health and well-being, too (see our 2013 interview with Mark for a full background on his recommended regime), the food we eat can literally determine which of the genes in our genetic code get activated and expressed. So, in a very real way, we indeed are what we eat.

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Categories: Economics

Mark Sission: Why Nutrition Is The Key To Health

Chris Martenson - August 16, 2014 - 18:51

This week, Mark Sisson -- former professional athlete, founder of Mark's Daily Apple, and developer of the Primal Blueprint health & fitness lifestyle -- returns to discuss nutrition. In his opinion, it's the single most important factor for a healthy life.

While other key components like physical exertion, good sleep, de-stressing and sun exposure contribute to overall health and well-being, too (see our 2013 interview with Mark for a full background on his recommended regime), the food we eat can literally determine which of the genes in our genetic code get activated and expressed. So, in a very real way, we indeed are what we eat.

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Categories: Economics

Build the Ultimate School Bug Out Kit for your Kids

Chris Martenson - August 16, 2014 - 11:14

An interesting article and lots of tips and ideas on how to create a bug out / get home bag for your kids when they are away at school.  Also lots of ideas of how to build one with zero tolerance rules being in the mix when planning.  (Reminds me of how I have to check for my daughters wilderness survival knife (class requirement) in her backpack before sending her off to music theater class). 

http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/build-the-ultimate-school-bug-out-kit-for-your-kids-08132014

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/16 - Working Anything But 9 To 5, Hospitals Get Ready For Ebola

Chris Martenson - August 16, 2014 - 06:58
  • Working Anything But 9 To 5
  • As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way
  • Why You Should Invest in Uruguayan Real Estate
  • Hospitals in the U.S. Get Ready for Ebola
  • Fears of Renewed Instability as Fed Ends Stimulus
  • How Militarizing Police Can Increase Violence
  • UK economy grows at fastest annual pace in over six years in second quarter
  • Why Perdue Going Organic Could Mean Cleaner Water

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Categories: Economics

A Brief History of US Money - Crash Course Chapter 9

Chris Martenson - August 15, 2014 - 15:29

Looking at the past 100 years of the US dollar's history, one theme becomes abundantly clear: in times of crisis, the US government has no issue with changing its own rules or breaking its own laws. And those "temporary" emergency measures have a nasty habit of quickly becoming permanent.

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Categories: Economics

A Brief History of US Money: The Fed - Crash Course Chapter 9

Chris Martenson - August 15, 2014 - 15:29

Looking at the past 100 years of the US dollar's history, one theme becomes abundantly clear: in times of crisis, the US government has no issue with changing its own rules or breaking its own laws. And those "temporary" emergency measures have a nasty habit of quickly becoming permanent.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/15 - Our Overworked Power Grid, TEPCO Eyes Pacific Ocean

Chris Martenson - August 15, 2014 - 07:46
  • Sovereign debt for territory: A new global elite swap strategy
  • Ferguson Images Evoke Civil Rights Era and Changing Visual Perceptions
  • Edward Snowden: The Untold Story
  • U.S. Stocks Rise on Fed Bets Amid Uneven Economy Reports
  • Libertarians Can Be a Significant Force for Good in U.S. Politics
  • Traders Profit as Power Grid Is Overworked
  • How Verizon lets its copper network decay to force phone customers onto fiber
  • As Radioactive Water Accumulates, TEPCO Eyes Pacific Ocean As Dumping Ground

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Categories: Economics

Updated DIY Flower Pot Heater

Chris Martenson - August 14, 2014 - 17:35

A great new design for the inverted flower pot space heater that runs off of tea candles.  Simple and very cheap to create a secondary source of heat for a small office or room.

http://www.thegoodsurvivalist.com/new-diy-flower-pot-heater-that-doubles-as-a-piece-of-art-this-works-great-and-costs-just-4-cents-an-hour-to-run1233/

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Categories: Economics

Off the Cuff: The Age Of Limits

Chris Martenson - August 14, 2014 - 15:47

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles discuss:

  • Limits To Growth
    • Our current system is acting as if they don't exist
  • Financial Chicanery
    • All the smoke & mirrors can't hide the fact it's a zero sum game
  • False Stability
    • The current calm will end when the central banks fail
  • Energy, Energy, Energy
    • In the end, ownership/access to energy is all that matters

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Categories: Economics

How America's Largest Worker Owned Co-Op Lifts People Out of Poverty

Zaida Ramos, employed at Cooperative Home Care Associates, with her son in their East Harlem, N.Y., neighborhood. YES! photo by Stephanie Keith.

Before Zaida Ramos joined Cooperative Home Care Associates, she was raising her daughter on public assistance, shuttling between dead-end office jobs, and not making ends meet. “I earned in a week what my family spent in a day,” she recalled.

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After 17 years as a home health aide at Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), the largest worker-owned co-op in the United States, Ramos recently celebrated her daughter’s college graduation. She’s paying half of her son’s tuition at a Catholic school, and she’s a worker-owner in a business where she enjoys flexible hours, steady earnings, health and dental insurance, plus an annual share in the profits. She’s not rich, she says, “but I’m financially independent. I belong to a union, and I have a chance to make a difference.”

Can worker-owned businesses lift families out of poverty? “They did mine,” Ramos said. Should other low-income New Yorkers get involved in co-ops? She says, “Go for it.”

New York City is going—in a big way—for worker-owned cooperatives. Inspired by the model of CHCA and prodded by a new network of co-op members and enthusiasts, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council allocated $1.2 million to support worker cooperatives in 2015’s budget. According to the Democracy at Work Institute, New York’s investment in co-ops is the largest by any U.S. city government to date.

Cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by their members on the basis of one member, one vote. Given enough time, worker-owned cooperatives tend to increase wages and improve working conditions, and advocates say a local co-op generally stays where it’s founded and acts as a leadership-building force.

“There is no greater medicine for apathy and feelings of living on the edges of society than to see your own work and your voice make a difference,” says a report on co-ops by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies in New York.

Selling the council on co-ops

This January, as a new mayor (who ran on combating inequality) and a progressive majority of the City Council were taking office, the Federation’s report inspired Councilmember Maria Del Carmen Arroyo to think about co‑ops. “A bulb went off,” she said.

Arroyo, incoming chair of the Community Development Committee, represents a South Bronx district that’s still one of the poorest in the nation, even after years of “development.” National retailers, attracted by tax breaks, typically pay low wages and squeeze out local businesses. Partly in response, the Bronx is also home to an array of co‑ops, from the large CHCA to the small Green Worker Cooperatives, which incubates local green businesses.

New York’s investment in co-ops is the largest by any U.S. city government to date.

When Arroyo convened a first-of-its-kind hearing on co-ops this February, New Yorkers packed not one but two hearing rooms at City Hall.

Among the co-op members who testified was Yadira Fragoso, whose wages rose to $25 an hour—up from $6.25—after becoming a worker-owner at Si Se Puede, a cleaning co-op incubated by the Brooklyn-based Center for Family Life. Translation at the hearing was provided by Caracol, an interpreters’ cooperative mentored by Green Worker Cooperatives.

By spreading risk and pooling resources, co-ops offer people with little individual wealth a way to start their own businesses and build assets. That said, if starting and sustaining a successful cooperative business were easy, there would probably be more of them.

As of January 2014, just 23 worker-owned co-ops existed in New York, of which only CHCA employed more than 70 people. Nationwide, according to data from the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, roughly 300 worker-owned cooperatives average 11 workers each. Lack of public awareness and funding, as well as a weak support system, holds co-ops back, researchers say, and cumbersome city paperwork doesn’t help.

New graduates from a free training program in July at the Cooperative Home Care Associates offices in the Bronx, N.Y. YES! photo by Stephanie Keith.

A working model

CHCA is over 90 percent owned by women of color and yet (because of the co-op’s many owners) it hasn’t qualified as a minority- and women-owned business, Arroyo told the hearing. (Such businesses enjoy privileges in bidding for contracts.) “There’s no earthly reason we can’t change that,” Arroyo said.

If they are to change anyone’s life for the better, though, co-ops have to be successful businesses, and that’s hard, says Michael Elsas, CEO of CHCA.

The co-op was founded in 1985 on the premise that if workers owned their own company they could maximize their wages and benefits, and if workers were better trained and better treated, they’d offer better care to their clients. Creating the worker co-op was the first step. But to truly change life for their workers in a race-to-the-bottom industry such as health care, the founders knew they’d have to change the industry.

“There is no greater medicine for apathy...than to see your own work and your voice make a difference.”

To that end, CHCA worked on several connected tracks. To raise industry standards, not just for CHCA workers but across the field, CHCA started the worker-run Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) that trains agencies across the country while also fighting for policy shifts. (PHI was instrumental in the campaign that recently expanded the Fair Labor Standards Act.)

To better address the needs of home care clients, in 2000 they created Independence Care System (ICS), a multibillion-dollar managed-care company, which contracts with the city to work with chronically sick and disabled adults. With ICS, CHCA filled an unmet need while also creating its own primary customer to fuel the co-op’s growth. ICS is responsible for 60 percent of CHCA’s business, and the co-op has grown from 500 workers in the late 1990s to 2,300 today.

Workers become “owners” with a buy-in of $1,000, paid over time. Of today’s 2,300, some 1,100 are worker-owners, Elsas says. The company had $64 million in revenues in 2013. They’ve raised wages, but more important to workers like Ramos are the regular hours, the family health insurance, and membership in the Service Employees International Union Local 1199. In short, respect.

CHCA occupies two floors of a new office building on Fordham Road. Peer-mentors answer caregivers’ calls at desks, with plenty of cushioned sitting-room space for talking. In the PHI training lab, there are no model plastic dummies. Workers in training learn what it’s like to be both caretaker and patient.

Wages for CHCA’s health care workers stand at $16 an hour including benefits, Elsas says. It’s not affluence, but it’s still almost twice market rate. Workers enjoy guaranteed hours—an average of 36 a week, compared to an industry norm of 25 to 30. They’re paid for business meetings, and in a state where the CEO-to-minimum-wage-worker pay ratio stands at 405: 1, the ratio at CHCA hit its highest (11:1) in 2006. Turnover stands at 15 percent, compared with an industry standard close to four times that.

“If I didn’t like it here, I wouldn’t have stayed all these years,” Ramos says.

Asked about New York’s new co-ops, CHCA’s Elsas hesitates. He’s all for making it easier for co-ops to get contracts, but he’s concerned about scale.

“I’m just not sure that setting up 26 new small co-ops will help change policy or practice,” he says.

We needed a new approach to workforce development that would not only reduce poverty but also promote upward mobility.

Helen Rosenthal was changed by a small co-op: Her mother started one of the first nursery co-ops in Detroit, and she saw how lives improved. Now she chairs the New York City Council’s powerful Committee on Contracts, where she’s helping push the co-op legislation. “With co-ops, democracy is built into the legal DNA,” she said.

Administered by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), the city’s new funds will go to 10 nonprofits (among them, Green Worker Cooperatives and the Center for Family Life). The groups must create “234 jobs in worker cooperative businesses, reach 920 cooperative entrepreneurs, provide for the start up of 28 new worker cooperative small businesses, and [assist] another 20 existing co-ops.”

With so few co-ops in existence, creating more is better, says Hilary Abell, author of a new study from the Democracy Collaborative titled “Pathways to Scale.” More is better. Co-ops thrive in a mutually supportive ecosystem. “But the biggest need right now is certainly for larger businesses, capable of hiring 100 workers and up,” she says, adding that start-ups may not be the best path to scale: “There are 200,000 small businesses in the U.S. today, employing half of all America’s workers. Most have no succession plan.” Might some be ripe, she asks, for takeover by their workers?

After 92 years of the Federation’s fight against poverty, its leaders are clear: “Making sure that a safety net exists is not enough to help New Yorkers have satisfying lives. We needed a new approach to workforce development that would not only reduce poverty but also promote upward mobility, and that’s where co-ops can be an anchor,” says Wayne Ho, FPWA’s chief program and policy officer.

Funding for supportive nonprofits is not the only thing co-ops need from cities. In Spain, Northern Italy, Quebec, and France, robust worker co-ops benefit from laws that help co-ops access capital and public contracts. In New York, even as public dollars flow to big businesses as incentives, public spending is on the chopping block. The first city-sponsored trainings with a new, cooperative-inclusive curriculum started this summer, but passing co-op-friendly laws is going to take political power—of the sort that elected today’s progressive city leadership.

This $1.2 million won’t end poverty, but it’s a step in the right direction, says Christopher Michael of the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives. “We have all the raw ingredients of a successful policy initiative: engaged groups, a bit of a track record and support in the city council…

“This is just a start.”

Laura Flanders wrote this article for The End of Poverty, the Fall 2014 issue of YES! Magazine. Laura is YES! Magazine’s 2013 Local Economies Reporting Fellow and is executive producer, founder, and host of “GRITtv with Laura Flanders.” Follow her on Twitter @GRITlaura.

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Categories: Economics