Snapshot: Zara Serabian-Arthur

How did you get to be a Filmmaker and Worker-Owner at Meerkat Media? I moved to NYC after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in 2006, and was living with my partner and a few friends. Many of us were working in the film industry, and didn’t like what we saw—the way our industry relied on the exploitation of young people willing to work for free, the gender and racial breakdown of who was behind the camera, and the way that decisions were made only by a few people at the top of hierarchy—and so we formed a media collective, where we could share resources, learn from each other, and continue to make art together in ways that aligned with our values. As we individually pursued our own careers, in film, education, and the nonprofit sector, we realized we could turn this informal structure into a more formal one, and eventually make a living this way, working together to produce meaningful films, on our own and in collaboration with mission-aligned organizations around the city. Eventually, our collective came to hold two entities: a […]

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New BQLT Partnership!

New BQLT Partnership! We are extremely excited to announce our new partnership with the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, an organization that stewards 37 different gardens in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. Their gardens serve as classrooms, food production sites (over 92% of their gardens grow fruits and vegetables), community spaces, and active green spaces, and the majority are located in low-income neighborhoods where land is often being turned over to real estate developers or left vacant. The Brooklyn Queens Land Trust exists to establish a community of gardeners in Brooklyn and Queens to: educate and inspire people of all ages to become successful and environmentally responsible gardeners; support community involvement in community gardening, neighborhood beautification and open space enhancement through activities and programs; and promote the interests of community gardens.   What does this mean?  If you are a member of any of these gardens, you are also a member of the Cooperative Economics Alliance of NYC at no cost to you! Read about all the benefits that come with a CEANYC membership. If you are a member of […]

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Snapshot: Raina Kennedy

Organizer, Central Brooklyn Food Co-op How did you get into this work? In 2013 I was living in Flatbush, slogging my way through being underpaid and underemployed in various parts of the food industry, sad that the only way I could afford to shop or eat at some of the nicer places I worked was through employee discounts. I discovered the Flatbush Farm Share CSA and it kick-started my journey to committing myself to food justice work. Prior to actually reading anything about the Flatbush Farm Share, I’d (rightfully) assumed that community supported agriculture was the domain of well-off white people in the suburbs. But that particular CSA was built on a sliding-scale model, and suddenly I was eating all these new vegetables and developing a much sunnier outlook on life thanks to all of the nutrients flooding my system. And the bestpart was the community! It was wonderful to go pick up my veggies every week with the same people and being involved in the core group helped to ground me when so many other areas of my life […]

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Cooperation in Childcare

Last month researchers, developers, academics, and cooperators got together to discuss the following question: how can we use success stories to build out childcare cooperatives as a solution to the problems in NYC? The convening centered around a report done by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Communities, the Democracy at Work Institute, and the ICA Group. According to this research, 52% of low income families in NYC are in need of subsidized childcare, and only 1 out of every 4 of these families are actually accessing these programs (the most common of which are Early Learn, Universal Pre K, Head Start, and Family Child Care).   The problem? Some of these programs are seasonal; for example, Universal Pre K only runs until June. Costs remain between $16,000 and $21,00 per year per child; with inadequate government reimbursement, many New Yorkers (including childcare workers themselves) cannot afford childcare High worker turnover (25%-50%) in an industry that is part time for most workers Low wages, with the average childcare worker making $12 an hour in NYC, combined with lack of benefits Inadequate […]

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LGBTQ Accessibility in Co-ops

Just last month, worker-owners from Sunset Scholars Tutoring Cooperative and Trusty Amigos Dogwalking Cooperative held a workshop on LGBTQ competency for worker-owners and allies. A representative from the NYC Commission on Human Rights came to meet the following goals: Increase cultural competency so that co-ops can work professionally with members of the LGBTQ community, including both clients and members Build awareness within cooperatives so that they can be more open, welcoming, and safe spaces Help members understand the difference between ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’ Support members in practicing how to effectively communicate with/about LGBTQ issues The workshop contained detailed and shocking statistics, increasing awareness around the disparate wages earned, education accessed, and promotions received amongst queer-identified workers, especially people who identify as transgender and gender non-conforming. Participants shared stories, strategies, and questions in a lively and important conversation. Given that queer- and trans- identified individuals are actively shut out of our current economic system, it is especially important that cooperatives—which have the potential to provide necessary access to dignified workplaces for so many marginalized communities—push conversations about LGBTQ inclusion forward. Further, […]

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