Cooperation Jackson

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= an emerging cooperative network based in Jackson, Mississippi.

URL = http://www.cooperationjackson.org/

Description

1.

"Cooperation Jackson is an emerging cooperative network based in Jackson, Mississippi. The network consists of four interconnected and interdependent institutions: a federation of emerging local worker cooperatives, a cooperative incubator, a cooperative education and training center, and a cooperative bank.

Individuals deeply moved by the Jackson-Kush Plan who are striving to see its vision of economic democracy realized launched Cooperation Jackson in the fall of 2013. " (http://www.cooperationjackson.org/intro/)


2. Cat Johnson

"A powerhouse organization promoting economic justice, Cooperation Jackson was born of a need to transform the state, in particular its capital and largest city, Jackson. Cooperation Jackson is a network of interconnected yet independent institutions including an incubator and training center, a cooperative bank, and a federation of established cooperatives. Together, they're exploring the potential of cooperatives to transform local communities.

Cooperation Jackson is emerging as a leader in the global cooperative movement and the struggle for economic democracy. Among other things, the organization teaches people about the importance of worker cooperatives and how to create one. It recently hosted the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference, to lay a foundation for the transformation of the city and establish it as a center for economic democracy. The event was a great success, attracting international attention and moving Cooperation Jackson further into the spotlight."


3. Eleanor Finley:

"Perhaps the largest and most promising municipal movement in the US currently is Cooperation Jackson, a civic initiative based in America’s Deep South. In a city where over 85 percent of the population is black while 90 percent of the wealth is held by whites, Cooperation Jackson cultivates popular power through participatory economic development. Over the course of decades, Cooperation Jackson and its predecessors have formed a federation of worker-owned cooperatives and other initiatives for democratic and ecological production. This economic base is then linked to people’s assemblies, which broadly determine the project’s priorities.

Like Seattle’s NAC, Cooperation Jackson engages in local elections and city governance. Jackson, Mississippi’s new mayor, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, comes from a family of famous black radicals and has close ties to the movement. Lumumba has endorsed Cooperation Jackson’s initiative to build Center for Community Production, a public community center that specializes in 3D printing and digital production." (https://roarmag.org/magazine/new-municipal-movements/)


Interview

Interview of Kali Akuno, Coordinator of Cooperation Jackson, conducted by Cat Johnson:

"Shareable: Cooperation Jackson consists of a federation of cooperatives, an incubator, a training center, and a cooperative bank. This pretty much covers the bases for the new economy. Can you talk about the plan for Cooperation Jackson and how it came about?

Kali Akuno: Cooperation Jackson is the realization of a vision that is long in the making. The vision was produced by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the New Afrikan People’s Organization and began to be operationalized in 2005, when these two entities started to develop a long-term strategy to transform the city of Jackson and the state of Mississippi. The vision is known as the Jackson-Kush Plan, and was made public in 2011 via a document with that same title. Cooperation Jackson is the manifestation of the solidarity economy aspect of that transformative vision.

Cooperation Jackson has many ambitious plans. It would probably take a book to deal with them all. But, one of our primary objectives is to have a minimum of 10 percent of the jobs in Jackson be drawn directly from the federation of worker cooperatives that we are producing. And we are looking to have an even greater percentage of the city’s GNP being produced by Cooperation Jackson.


* How has Cooperation Jackson been received and what kind of impact has it had on the community?

Cooperation Jackson is being extremely well-received by the vast majority of the residents of Jackson. People are enthused with our vision of job creation and distributing wealth in an equitable manner. However, not everyone is pleased. Unfortunately, many of the campaign contributors to the new mayor of the city are very oppositional to Cooperation Jackson, and the vision of justice, equity and equality that it puts forward.

Without question, the arms that are open to us are far more powerful than the few detractors when they act as a unified front. But, the detractors presently control much of the economy of the city and region, so we have a fight on our hands.

What’s the importance of creating worker-owned cooperatives, especially in Jackson?

The most fundamental piece about creating worker owned cooperatives in Jackson is planting the seed for the development of economic democracy. Economic democracy will produce wealth equity, and in a city that is as impoverished as Jackson is, this is fundamental to the improvement of the living conditions and life chances of the vast majority of its residents.


* What successes has Cooperation Jackson had and what projects is the organization currently focused on?

Our greatest triumph to date was successfully hosting the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference, which was held at Jackson State University in early May. This conference raised the national and international profile and visibility of Jackson and it enabled us to train more than 100 Jacksonians in the basics of how to start a worker cooperative." (http://www.shareable.net/blog/how-cooperation-jackson-is-transforming-the-poorest-state-in-the-us)


Discussion

Nathan Schneider:

"In May 2014, just months after Lumumba's death, hundreds of people came to the Jackson State University campus from around the country and the world for a conference called Jackson Rising. They learned the history of black-led cooperatives from Nembhard and took stock of what might have been in Jackson—and what might be. Lumumba's image appeared on the cover of the program, and on the first page, he spoke from the grave with a signed-and-sealed resolution from the mayor's desk. "Our city is enthused about the Jackson Rising Conference and the prospects of cooperative development," it said, as if nothing had changed. In fact, city hall's expected support for the event lasted no longer than Lumumba's tenure.

MXGM was meanwhile hatching a new organization, Cooperation Jackson, to carry on the work that had been started. Akuno enumerated a four-part agenda: a co-op incubator, an education center, a financial institution, and an association of cooperatives. Plans were soon underway to seed, first, three interlocking co-ops: an urban farm, a catering company named in honor of Lumumba's wife, Nubia, who died in 2003, and a composting company to recycle the caterers' waste back into the farm. Akuno raised money from foundations, entertainers, and small donors, and the Southern Reparations Loan Fund would be pitching in as well. Cooperation Jackson started buying up land for its own community land trust. Its members restored and painted what would become the Lumumba Center.

Jackson's hot summer seemed especially apocalyptic last year. In South Carolina, Dylann Roof had murdered nine African American worshipers in a Charleston church; day after day, there was news of black churches across the South burning. Calls were mounting to take down the Confederate battle flag flying over the South Carolina Capitol, but comparatively few were talking about the stars and bars that still cover a substantial portion of the Mississippi state flag everywhere it appears. The Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage the law of the land, overturning the Mississippi Constitution's marriage amendment, and the preachers who heavily populate the radio spectrum in Jackson declared the United States of America definitively captive in the talons of the devil. In the Lumumba Center's backyard, Cooperation Jackson's Freedom Farm consisted of a few rows of tilled earth, and in the kitchen, Nubia's Cafe was having its first test run. Akuno and others were planning a trip to Paris for the UN climate summit. Down the road at the Cooperative Community of New West Jackson, Nia Umoja and her neighbors had bought 56 properties for their land trust. "We've taken almost all the abandoned property off the speculative market," Umoja said." (http://www.vice.com/read/free-the-land-v23n2)

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