Snapshot: Rachel Isreeli

Worker Cooperative Developer at the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park Cooperative Development Program How did you first get into this work? I came into the world of cooperativism having worked primarily at the intersection of gender, labor and sexuality. Every aspect of our lives here, in the context where most of us reading this live, is controlled by gender. We are controlled by race. There are historical and creative constructions of extractive patterns, binaries, expectations, narratives that very efficiently serve the ruling class. Unlearning is a critical struggle. Through cooperative work, I hope we can unlearn the limiting stories we’ve been told about ourselves in the effort to create cultures both internal and external to the organization that challenge the sexist racist status quo. It is very hard to avoid replicating deeply embedded oppressive systems. It doesn’t always happen, but we continue learning and growing in our effort to try. What does ‘Solidarity Economy’ mean to you? A solidarity economy recognizes everyone’s humanity in the struggle to build community. On an interpersonal level, solidarity requires recognizing everyone’s needs, […]

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Snapshot: Frank Cetera

Business Advisor, N Y Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College 1. What is your title/organization/job description? Certified Business Advisor, NY Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College.  The SBDC network is nationwide, with 23 regional centers in New York.  We provide free and confidential business mentoring, advisement, and analysis for the public, funded through the SUNY system and the SBA.  I implemented cooperative business development programming within the SBDC in 2012 with organizing and hosting the first Upstate Cooperative Summit day-long event in Syracuse, followed up with a second in 2013, and then embarked on the creation of the statewide NY Cooperative Network (NYCN) project with a steering committee formed out of the Summit events. I am fortunate in this employment position to also be a union steward for Professional Administrators on campus as part of the NYSUT OCCFTA Local 1845, plus delegate to the Greater Syracuse Area Labor Council. Unions and cooperatives are a natural mix.  I use my skills and experience to try and better local politics and create a dignified city for everyone too, […]

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Snapshot: Deborah Sanders

Volunteer, Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) Shareholders Forum How did you first get into this work? The Shareholders Forum (SF) consists of owners of Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) housing units. HDFC is a program created in the 1970’s that provided a means for people living in decaying neighborhoods to purchase their apartments and thereby become more invested in their communities.  The program stipulated that the homes provide housing to people of low-to-moderate income (LTMI) in exchange for tax benefits and other means of support.  Today, many of the neighborhoods where HDFCs exists are being gentrified. An increasing number of HDFC owners are being swept into the whirlwind of change and facing the decision of whether sell their government sponsored apartment to wealthy people who are flocking to these neighborhoods. Many shareholders view selling these apartments to wealthy people as a betrayal of the mission of the program and as destructive to fabric of the community. We are working to expose the potential harm of the practice and to stop it from happening by appealing to both community members and to the […]

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Snapshot: Pamela Owens

Senior Vice President, Organizational Development and Capacity Building at the Federation of Community Development Credit Unions How did you first get into this work? I kind of fell into it by accident. I had worked at a university for ten years and I had done basically curriculum design. When I was at the very beginning stages of a PhD program and knew I wanted some more experience, the opportunity came up to deveop the Community Development Credit Union Training Institute which was to help CDCUs. It was supposed to be two years, it’s turned into eighteen. But it’s been a good eighteen years. This was the opportunity to work specifically with adults who were all experts but needed to fine-tune their skills, so I love that idea. What does ‘Solidarity Economy’ mean to you? It’s kind of a tricky question because I look at everything through the lens of community development. I would love to see, in an ideal world, all the cooperatives come together and work together promoting engagement, sustainability, independence, asset development in a way that doesn’t depend […]

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Snapshot: Alicia Portada

Director of Communications and Community Engagement at the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union How did you first get into this work? 12 years ago, I was a new immigrant looking for jobs but I lacked referrals and job history since they were all in Peru. I decided to try the AmeriCorps Program to build my network from scratch. The opportunity was to be a volunteer in a small credit union in East Harlem and what attracted me to it was the cooperative model. My dad always talked, very proudly, about his cooperative in Peru, his participation in it, and how they helped him in times of need. I volunteered through AmeriCorps for one year and after that, the CEO offered me a new position in marketing. I remember that as soon as I started I had a lot of things to do, and there were always more things to be done ASAP, and that never changed. I took that as a sign that this was the place where I belonged. What does ‘Solidarity Economy’ mean to you? It […]

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