I received a call this morning from Paul Alivasatos, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, informing me that they have decided to make the Richmond Field Station and the City of Richmond the home for their second campus.
I would like to thank the Richmond City Council for their enthusiastic support for this important economic development project, the many City of Richmond staff members who worked to provide technical support in the decision-making process, and the Richmond community for providing the warm welcome mat that was undoubtedly a major factor in their decision.
I will provide more details as they become available. In the meantime, please enjoy this great bit of news and let's look forward to continued success.
Thanks to all who helped make this possible through letters, presentations, your presence at Richmond's rally, and leadership from Councilmember Jeff Ritterman, Bill Lindsay and the city staff.
Green Campus/ Green Jobs for Richmond
The RPA strongly supports the efforts by the city of Richmond to promote Richmond as the best place to locate the proposed Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories second campus.
We believe the commitment of the city to welcome good paying jobs, in a healthy environment, that contribute to protecting the environment and improving the conditions for humanity will be enhanced in this process.
-RPA Steering Committee 2/4/11
The Mondragon Cooperative Experience -
Paving the Way for Worker Cooperatives in Richmond
What if people who need a job got together, pooled their skills, secured funding and technical assistance from a variety of available sources, collaborated with labor unions, and formed democratically run, worker-owned cooperatives?
There are worker co-ops in other parts of the world, nation and Bay Area, and the time is ripe to bring them to Richmond as a worker empowerment-based model of economic development and job creation. Mayor McLaughlin intends to pursue this strategy during her next four years in office. She was invited to attend a seminar in Mondragon, Spain in mid-September to learn about the expansive Mondragon worker-owned cooperatives, which have flourished for over 50 years in what was once an empoverished region with high unemployment.
As a prelude to this seminar, the Mayor asked me to attend on her behalf the annual conference of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, held Berkeley on Aug. 6-8. Numerous workshops and tours of local co-ops were highly informative and inspirational. Of particular relevance to Richmond:
1. One session featured speakers from the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative of Cleveland OH, which was launched in 2008 by a collaboration of foundations, the city, non-profits and the grassroots aiming to stabilize and revitalize low income neighborhoods, and leverage a variety of resources for start-up support. So far, three worker-owned co-ops have been formed: an eco-friendly laundry that has contracts with Cleveland's major hospitals, a solar installation and weatherization company, and a greenhouse operation to provide fresh, local lettuce throughout the frigid mid-West winter. Evergreen founders consulted extensively with co-op practitioners in Mondragon to bring the idea to fruition.
2. Another session focussed on how Labor Unions and Worker Cooperatives can complement each other's efforts to promote shared goals of workplace democracy, economic security for workers, on-going training opportunities, and benefit to the community. A representative of United Steel Workers discussed the collaboration agreement signed by USW and Mondragon last year He currently works for a solar manufacturing plant in Southern California that exports all of its product to Japan, and suggested that workers and unions could start their own businesses producing for the local market. A representative of AFSCME emphasized that resources of unions could be shifted from the adversarial struggles with the bosses to providing technical support for the development of worker-owned co-ops whose members would then join unions. There are numerous co-ops whose worker-owners are already union members, such as Inkworks Press in Berkeley.
3. A high energy session was presented by two young women from Toxic Soil Busters, a youth co-op in Worcester, MA that employs 14-18 year-olds part time doing soil testing and lead remediation with plants and other means in the yards of older low-income neighborhoods. A partner youth co-op, Youth In Charge, does landscaping work on the other side of town, and both operate with support and grant-funding from the non-profit Worcester Roots. After the conference, four youth from Toxic Soil Busters and Youth In Charge paid a visit to Richmond, touring EcoVillage Farm, the RYSE Center and the Mayor's office.
For more information on the background of cooperative movement and the USFWC conference, read the Aug. 3 article in the Berkeley Daily Planet
--Photo by Vivien Feyer