Snapshot: Rania Dalloul

Assistant Communications Director, Urban Homesteading Assistance Board How did you get into this work? I moved to the U.S. in 2013, after working in Beirut, Lebanon for a few years. I was in the field of community development, trying to improve living, housing, and educational conditions of Palestinian refugees through various approaches, each one not really fulfilling the work that I felt was necessary. I tried working with UN agencies, being a field officer, a researcher, a teacher, and helped build a creative education nonprofit, all in the name of working towards building capacity within disenfranchised communities. What I eventually realized was that all of these entities that I had used as pathways to making a difference for the people and land I cared about, were not actually established to dismantle the systems which limit their freedom, but are otherwise there to maintain them. It was a gradual heartbreak—I wanted to disrupt those systems and I couldn’t figure out where to start. Fast forward to New York City, where I ended up working at UHAB with limited-equity housing co-ops, a […]

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Snapshot: Samira Rajan

CEO, Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union How did you get into this work? I had been interested in issues around the distribution of wealth since undergrad when I studied economics. It seemed that the banking system, given the ability of banks to determine where investment flows, had a central role in determining that distribution. After undergrad I worked at the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department, thinking that helping to determine banking regulation would be a good path towards ensuring more equitable banking policy. While I was in graduate school, however, my advisor suggested that spending some time in banking at the street level would be quite useful in seeing what truly affects economic growth. So after I graduated, I volunteered at a start-up credit union not far from my home in Queens, New York. I ended up being an Americorp*VISTA and thought I would be there no more than a year, and then return to policy and regulation. But I ended up loving it!  First, as a start-up business, you have to do everything, wear all hats, and that […]

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Snapshot: Ysanet Batista

Worker-Owner of Woke Foods Co-op Academy Teaching Assistant at Green Worker Cooperatives How did you get into this work? In 2015 I moved back to NYC after working in my home country of the Dominican Republic. I returned to NYC to work in education and was an AmeriCorps volunteer but after experiencing different challenges with the nonprofit I was placed in, I decided to leave. Some of the challenges I faced where lack of “diversity” or openness to talk about racial dynamics, not being paid enough, which affected my mental and physical health. I decided to start Woke Foods days after leaving the nonprofit as a way to make money and support my livelihood. Simultaneously, I was exploring ways to heal my mind and body with food & herbs, immersing myself in urban agriculture and food sovereignty, organizing with friends and facilitating workshops centering racial equity. Given where I was in my life I wanted to create a project or be in space that was prioritizing racial and gender equity, economic justice, and food sovereignty. A few months later, I […]

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Snapshot: Ed Yaker

Board Member and Treasurer for the Amalgamated Housing Corporation Board Member of A.H. Consumers Society Board Member of Herman Liebman Memorial Fund How did you get into this work? I was born and raised here at Amalgamated.  I lived elsewhere for a few years, and when I got my own apartment here as a shareholder, I noticed changes in the neighborhood.  I ran for the board, and was first elected in December 1977.  The night I was elected, Hy Bass who was president at the time said to me, “It’s like a vacuum, it’s going to suck you in.”  Wow, was he right.  There were three years that I wasn’t on the Amalgamated board, but I have been active in this co-op and other co-op organizations more than forty years now. What does ‘solidarity economy’ mean to you? I’m not that familiar with the term but it strikes me as being aligned with the philosophy of “the greatest good for the greatest number of people.”  It’s a natural fit for cooperatives, promoting benefits for all, not just a few. What […]

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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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