There are a ton of things coming at all of us right now: What’s happening with my kids’ school? Are the COVID numbers going up or down? Will I have a job? Will my neighbor have a job? Will my local businesses still be here when this ends?
Behind all of these questions lies the anxiety of what the world will look like on the other side of the pandemic. But what can we do?
Our committee members have been asking this question for the past several months, and wondering how we can help focus people’s concerns about the economic impact of the pandemic on our Northwest Philadelphia neighborhoods. We are committed to fostering a “new economy” model that isn’t reliant on mainstream capitalism, and we feel this commitment is especially important now.
Many new economy measures can help fill the gaps in the capitalist system. Worker co-ops are one way, and one we are particularly interested in helping to incubate. In a worker co-op, the owners of a business are also its only employees. Norwich, Vermont’s King Arthur Flour is one example of a worker co-op.
There are challenges to building worker co-ops, but Northwest Philadelphia enjoys many advantages that could make this model work here. For example, there are a number of legacy businesses located along 52nd Street and the Germantown Avenue corridor that may be ripe for the transition to worker co-ops. And, of course, there’s Weavers Way to look to as an example of a successful co-op.
Although we think this is a great idea for possibly dealing with small businesses in distress, we know there are other ideas out there. Maybe you are sitting on one right now but don’t know where to express it. The NEI committee wants to gather them as part of a “New Ideas Survey.” We’re hoping to take some of your ideas and incubate them as possible solutions to the local economic crises exacerbated by the pandemic.
David Collins is a new member of the NEI committee and has donated the survey project. He has 30 years of experience in career services, organizational development and the promotion of social responsibility. He served on Gallup, Inc.’s foundation board. In addition, he launched Green Seal, a Washington, D.C.-based global nonprofit organization that pioneered the ecolabelling movement, and ACCESS, a national nonprofit job referral network. He also helped sell 700,000 copies of the book “Shopping for a Better World.”
The survey only takes three minutes to complete, but your input and thoughts could help our neighborhoods weather the pandemic. Click on the link in an upcoming eNews or go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/WeaverswaycoopNEIideassurvey