Last month, F4DC hosted a film screening of “Fixing the Future,” where movie-goers had an opportunity to travel along with David Brancaccio across the country and back again, as he talked to people who are imagining and actively building their local economies through projects like time banking, local currency and cooperative businesses.
After the film, local panelists spoke briefly about just a few of the grassroots economy efforts going on in North Carolina. We heard from the Greensboro Chapter of Slow Money, a network of people in the Triad lending and borrowing money to grow small food and agricultural businesses; Bountiful Backyards, a Durham-based worker-owned cooperative that creates edible landscapes; and Greenleaf Coffee Cooperative, a student-run coffee shop at Guilford College.
There was a dynamic energy in the room afterward as folks chatted about plans and ideas they may have mulled over for months or even years. Several people spontaneously agreed to gather to talk about how time banking might work in Greensboro. And plenty of people talked about local projects already in the works, such as the Renaissance Co-op Committee (RCC), a community led effort to develop a cooperative grocery store in Northeast Greensboro. Hope and determination came together as this community of people were reminded in just a couple of hours that WE can build the new economy ourselves.
The conversations didn’t stop that night. In the weeks that have followed the film screening, I’ve overheard several people talking about rebuilding our town’s economy from the ground up, and had some of these conversations myself! In fact, my husband and I just took advantage of a time bank inspired exchange this weekend. We had a morning of hands-on learning from someone in our neighborhood who’s an experienced contractor. He’s agreed to help us with a home construction project that required a fairly high skill level. We’ve offered up a few possibilities for a trade and look forward to seeing which of the options he’ll choose for his exchange.
These creative and real ideas that are taking root in places across the country because they fill a need we have to feel a sense of community. It feels good to be able to offer our skills and benefit from those of a new friend. Most importantly, we are participating in a cooperative, do-for-ourselves approach to changing our local economies.
Movie-goers at the “Fixing the Future” screening made a clear request to learn more about cooperatives. In response, we’ve decided to host another screening next month. On January 16th, we’ll show “Shift Change,” a documentary film that tells the stories of employee owned businesses that compete successfully in today’s economy while providing secure, dignified jobs in democratic workplaces.
From the birthplace of the modern cooperative movement in Mondragon, Spain to cleaning cooperatives in the Bay Area, to North Carolina’s own Bountiful Backyards and Opportunity Threads, worker-owned cooperatives are creating scalable and replicable businesses that are changing people’s relationship to their work and local and regional economies in dramatic ways. Watch the trailer and save the date of January 16th!