Conversations with Gamechangers: Cooperation Jackson


Part of Conversations with Gamechangers series.

1. Cooperation Jackson

+ CJ
++ community organising
+++ unions
+++ coops
-- Jackson water crisis
---_ broken treatment facility
---_ no availability of drinking water
++ Jackson Kush-Plan
+++ dual power
++++ people's assemblies
+++ democratising the economy
++++_ coops
+++ running for elected office
Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson
(no term)
currently a water crisis in Jackson
(no term)
currently in the middle of distribution event
(no term)
types of community organising
  • organising by trades (union style)
  • cooperatives
  • originally coops serviced social and reproductive needs
    • child care coops, etc
  • after: a compromise during 1930s compromise
  • capital struck a deal with some labour leaders
    • national labour board etc
    • set it up so that labour could only work for wages, hours, and healthcare
      • but removed ability for political strikes and political action
        • one union can not work in concert with other set of workers
          • same as UK
    • social security and social welfare as well
    • removed the need for social organising in a sense - divorced the coops from the trade unions
      • limiting what both could do in terms of power and struggle, became special interest groups within bourgeious order
    • coop jackson are intentional in trying to break that
  • history exists in a context of colonization, white power and patriarchy
  • black workers did not work in industries that were allowed to be unionzed
    • e.g. farming or maids
    • because of race
    • black workers were excluded from trade unions
  • lost the ability to own the means of production
  • CJ developing model that gets out of these relations of production
  • Jackson, rouhgly 220,000 in Jackson
    • it has shrunk to about 160-180 thousand in recent years
    • 80% of city is black
  • brain drain: black doctors from Mississipi move elsewhere in the US
  • 85% population is potential leverage of political power
    • black political power
  • Jackson-Kush Plan
    • automous independent power, dual power
      • self-governance through people's assemblies
    • democratising the economy
      • CJ was explicitly for this part of it
    • political power without economic power is symbol without substance
    • additionally running for elected office
      • two mayors have been elected
  • a young project with a lot of experimentation
    • mistake have been made, CJ aim to learn from them
  • CJ about 8 years old
  • accomplishments:
    • community land trust
      • 44 properties
      • collectively-owned
        • saved up money to own outright
          • (CJ don't trust banks, racist institutions)
    • network of federated cooperatives
      • Green Team (landscaping cooperative)
      • Freedom Farms (hit hard by water crisis)
      • Community Production Coop - manufacturing coop
        • digital fabrication coop, 3d printing, electrical design and craft, print shop
      • in the pipeline
        • Zero Waste Jackson (recycling and composting coop)
        • People's Groceries
        • Cannabis coop - medicinal cannabis coop
          • hemp and bamboo as sustainable materials for the CPC
  • withstand pressures of capitalist market
    • largest employer in Mississipi is Wal-Mart
      • a vicious corporation - they want no form of competition
  • some coops have failed, but there's space to do that
    • owning gives this time and space for learning
  • one coop failed (previous recycling and composting coop)
    • too tightly coupled to city system
    • city shut everything down, then the coop failed
  • walmart investor in recreational cannabis in mississipi
(no term)
to democratise economy
  • create supply and value chains
(no term)
most coops in US
  • constructed on friends and favours orientation
    • 10 people who like the same thing, turn it in to an income
  • in CJ, given poverty etc
    • what will given the most independence from market structure and political leverage?
(no term)
e.g. food was weaponised during hurricane katrina, so ownership of food supply is strategic
(no term)
a lot of trial and error in CJ
  • that's something to get used to in solidarity economy

2. outline

  • link between coops and unions
  • limits to power for both of these

3. how are the people's assemblies organised and used?

4. questions

4.1. what does the solidarity economy mean to CJ?

  • what are CJ striving against?
    • entrepreneuriship has been promoted in black community as answer to all problems
    • i.e. individual ownership
      • but this is a continuation of unequal relationships
  • prefer individuality over individualism
  • solidarity is the antidote to individualism
    • being in alignment and in practice with people who are not your blood or kin or clan, but your community
    • productive relationships where we consciously and deliberately depend upon each other

4.2. how to get started in Solidarity economy

  • start with what you have
  • avoid thinking in terms of deficits
  • e.g. if you don't have a job, maybe you have a lot of time
  • who can I work with and how can I work with them

4.3. water crisis in Jackson

  • there's no affordable drinking water currently in Jackson
  • water pressure has been restored (since about a week ago)
    • sanitary system was not functioning
  • need to avoid airborne diseases
    • it's a hot and humid region
    • malaria and denge fever and sleeping sickness are coming back
  • to get bottled water you would have had to go 20 miles out of the city (last week)
    • now if you get to a grocery store early in the morning you can buy water
    • most people don't have enough money to go and buy water
  • CJ doing water distribution
  • all the faith and community organisations are doing water distribution
    • but still not enough people are getting water
  • if you don't have a car, you can't get enough water
  • CJ going to members in the community and doing water drop offs
  • working age people are off working elsewhere sending money back
    • reverse bell curve for the population (lots of young and elderly)
  • no indication as to when the water will be restored
  • problems
    • pipes are old, antiquated and lead, they break a lot
    • treatment facility is broken - it's not cleaning the water
      • billions of dollars to build a new treatment facility
        • state government is refusing to give money for this
  • racial component to how it is playing out
    • state government redirecting money from federal government to white neighbourhoods outside of jackson

4.4. how did jackson get going?

  • it was a long time in gestation
  • going back generations
  • then in 2001…
    • group decided to get together and pool resources
    • $50 a month in to collective pool
    • to buy land in mississipi
    • a lot of patience, a lot of discipline
    • first purchase in 2011
  • additionally some athletes and entertainers from the area
    • they've given back
  • property values are low in mississipi and in jackson
    • might not have been able to do the same thing in atlanta for example

4.5. how to avoid cooptation?

  • foundations come and offer grants with a lot of conditions
  • have to be patient and disciplined and don't be tempted by these
  • a long-term intergenerational vision and being able to stick to it

4.6. accountability processes?

  • open communication and transparent communication

4.7. threats to CJ from the state etc

  • the most concerning of late
    • mississipi has a supermajority that controls state legislature now
    • passing preventative laws
    • e.g. climate justice
      • after helping with committment to reducing emissions by about 10% in a couple of years…
      • state legislature
        • said mississipi must not adhere to any EU standards around climate
  • so CJ have had to censor themselves to some degree
  • FBI sniffing around, trying to intimidate
    • they've been infiltrated, disruption

4.8. how to get those on low income involved?

  • don't just assume that people can participate
    • that is classist and gendered
  • low dues
  • but if can't afford it, then give us some time
  • building up systems that allow people to participate
    • e.g. single mothers - provide childcare

5. Elsewhere

5.1. In my garden

Notes that link to this note (AKA backlinks).

5.3. Mentions

This page last updated: 2022-09-11 Sun 21:12. Map. Recent changes. Source. Peer Production License.