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While we have criticized the lack of real, face-to-face democracy in our political sphere, the idea of democracy in the economy isn’t even paid lip service. The most destructive economic decisions worldwide are those made by people who will never have to live with them. Economic decision-making power is currently left with bosses who are allowed to reign as tyrants over their companies and ignore and usurp the local knowledge and wishes of the communities where their decisions actually have the most immediate effects.

But on the other end of the spectrum, those who would advocate shifting that decision-making power to the state still choose a path that disempowers local communities and the workers themselves. Both of those models pretend like the pipe dream of endless growth on a finite planet is a healthy approach, so they will readily sacrifice other people’s waterways, air quality, and biodiversity for short-term rising figures on a chart. Cooperation Denton promotes a third way, an economic grassroots democracy we call the SOLIDARITY ECONOMY.

The solidarity economy is what it looks like when we take acting locally seriously, when neighbors use face-to-face discussion to decide what their needs are and how to meet them without relying on outside authorities or far-away supply chains. Its heart is the COOPERATIVE, businesses that are democratically controlled by all the participants, rather than bosses and state bureaucrats. We advocate cooperatives that are governed by both their workers and the surrounding residents most affected by these businesses by rooting our economic program in the block-by-block assemblies we call neighborhood pods!

While we create new networks like time banks that allow neighbors to trade skills with each other locally without relying on money, we are also linking up already existing family businesses, cooperatives, bulk-buying clubs, and other neighbor-powered projects to make a resilient web of alternatives to an economy so few of us have a say in. We believe that given an equal say, neighbors will never vote to pollute their own drinking water or pillage their own ecosystem. Instead, together they can get down to the business of meeting their own needs and building a happier, healthier, abundant but balanced, place to live.