Our Common Wealth

Our Common Wealth: Mutual Aid in this Moment

Wave art by Sarah Jacqz!

Hello and welcome to Our Common Wealth, a bilingual newsletter by and for the solidarity economy in Massachusetts and beyond.

Questions, comments or resources to share?  Email us at Hola y bienvenido a Nuestra Riqueza Común, un boletín bilingüe de y para la economía solidaria en Massachusetts y más allá.

¿Preguntas, comentarios o recursos para compartir? Envíenos un correo electrónico a

 Ver este boletín en Español
Read this newsletter in Spanish

In this third edition of Our Common Wealth, you’ll find:

  • Mutual Aid Organizing: Keys to Evolution, Heart of Revolution
    Discover the power of mutual aid from birth to 2021, including profiles on local efforts Mutual Aid Worcester, Berkshire Mutual Aid and Mutual Aid Eastie
  • Highlights from “Emergence Meets Emergency: A Gathering for the Massachusetts Solidarity Economy”
    Case studies on Transformative Justice/Abolition, Housing Justice, Childcare/Education and Mutual Aid (Part 1)
  • Statewide Campaigns: Coalition for Worker Ownership and Power (COWOP)
    An update on an upcoming statewide policy platform to advance worker power!
  • Reflections on Radical Transformation: Moving from a Singular System Story to Pluriverse
    Follow Boston activist and academic Penn Loh’s personal journey to solidarity economy building
  • Conjunctural Politics, Cultural Struggle, and Solidarity Economy: An Interview with Kali Akuno 
    Part II of conversation between Westen Mass based activist and organizer, Boone Shear and the brilliant Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson 
  • Corners: Celebration, Learning, Building
    What’s going on around Massachusetts?

Mutual Aid Organizing:
Keys to Evolution, Heart of Revolution

By Addison Turner and Hendrix Berry

Cooperative economics is embedded in our evolutionary and ancestral knowledge of survival. The term “mutual aid” itself is often attributed to Peter Kropotkin, a Russian geographer and anarchist who observed mutual aid as a key factor in evolution throughout the animal kingdom in his 1902 collection of essays, “Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution.” His research and analysis suggests that the survival of living species is a test of cooperation, more than an individualistic test of fitness… Learn more about the history of mutual aid

“Mutual aid is at the core of my people’s survival and resilience. Every culture and community that has maintained aspects of the village even if they’re recovering from recent cultural and diasporic trauma. Mutual aid provides support while maintaining human dignity and integrity of spirit, self direction by those in need. When mutual aid works at it’s best, it is a system of supporting those who are disenfranchised in a way that maintains dignity as a first priority. Charity is about pity, seeing someone as childlike which is not just a problem in the disability community. What affects the disability community intersects and interlaps every other community and matter of wellbeing.” – Julie Berger, South County Disability Rights Working Group

“In mutual aid, there is no giver and taker. Everyone is helping in one way or another. Regular folks are taking the leadership roles to whatever extent they can – from organizing and coordinating work to, for example, taking several food/produce boxes for your building/block, tracking down the people in need (or saving the boxes for them) and making deliveries, translating a flyer, volunteering, or singing or playing an instrument to lift spirits up… Give what you can and take what you need.” – Kannan Thiruvengadam, Eastie Farm

“Charity requires an oppressive structure that maintains a class of ‘generous’ people and a class of ‘needy’ people. The word ‘generosity’ even shares the same Indo-Europian root as ‘gentry,’ meaning upper caste. Generosity, or charitability, is therefore a marker of upper-class distinction. Mutual aid, on the other hand, is a marker of solidarity and is reflective of the outlook of eliminating class hierarchy. Mutual aid and charity are therefore diametrically opposed. The former represents a world free of oppression and the latter represents a world of perpetual inequality. We choose to devote our efforts to the former and in doing so expose the charity model for what it is.” – Addison Turner, Worcester Youth Cooperatives

Learn more about these and other mutual aid projects across Massachusetts

Highlights from “Emergence Meets Emergency: A Gathering for the Massachusetts Solidarity Economy”  

Solidarity economy is a movement, culture and set of economic (management of home) practices. How do we use our collective resources for wholeness and wellbeing of all our people? We focused on four key areas during our November gathering of, “Emergence Meets Emergency.”Stay tuned for highlights from the second “Emergence Meets Emergency” series on Reparations, Food & Farming, and Climate Justice across Massachusetts.

The criminal injustice system is based on punishment over healing, profit over people, violence over unity. Prisons are essential for capitalism just as transformative justice is essential for solidarity economy. 

Stacey Borden, of New Beginnings Re-Entry Service and Families for Justice as Healing described New Beginnings, which offers resources and support for women nearing the end of their sentences, including “Expressive Therapy and Dramatic Arts” which allows people to process the incredibly challenging emotions and circumstances embedded in their lives. New Beginnings is 80% through a fundraising campaign to make their first residential housing purchase in Dorchester, named “Kimyas House” in honor of a women Stacey served time with who took a 20 year prison sentence for killing a man in self defense (who had just hit her in the head with a 2×4). The house will provide a stable safe space for women to heal themselves and “reach their greatness” by being themselves.

Michael Cox, of Black and Pink Massachusetts, shared with us, “[Black and Pink] is not a social service agency. We never envision ourselves like that. Rather, we see our programming as mutual aid. It’s really just getting the resources to the people who need them the most.” Black and Pink provides bail support, court support (transportation, or just to be there with someone so they’re not alone), re-entry aid and mobilizes an incredibly powerful pen pal network to support incarcerated people. Their mission is “to abolish the criminal punishment system and to liberate LGBTQIA2S+ people/people living with HIV who are affected by that system, through advocacy, support, and organizing.”

Watch Stacey and Michael’s full presentations here.

Our housing system is grounded in the capitalist value of needing to have money to make money. Intergenerational wealth should have nothing to do with whether your family has stable housing and opportunity.

Mike Leyba, of City Life/Vida Urbana described City Life’s incredible work, as a statewide leader in housing justice strategy to decommodify housing and provide direct services focused on the greater Boston community. From the block to the courthouse to the statehouse, City Life is keeping people in their homes and building a transformative housing economy. By sharing a recent example of tenant organizing at Morton Village Apartments in Mattapan, Mike explained how organizing is part of the capital stack.“When a sale is forced where all the units of that building are organized, it actually lowers the value of the building for sale so it means [the landlord] can sell the building but [they’re] going to sell it for less than [they] would if it was empty. The reason is because [they] know the person who’s buying it knows that they’re gonna have to spend the money to get [the organized tenants] out.”From City Life’s website, you can attend a weekly meeting to get free legal advice and community support for your own housing concerns, take action by signing petitions or calling your legislators, donate and find other ways to engage with the housing justice movement in Massachusetts

Watch Mike’s full presentation here

There is a severe shortage of high quality and affordable childcare. At the same time, childcare workers are very poorly paid and lack healthcare and other benefits. Many of the childcare operations in Massachusetts have, or will be forced to close due to the challenges of the pandemic.Three collaborative and interlaced models offer a glimpse into a way forward: universal childcare, neighborhood learning pods, and worker owned daycare centers.

Sarah Jimenez, of Community Labor United (CLU) described their work convening a network of unions and grassroots community groups called Care That Works, fighting for an “equitable, public child care system centered on the needs of the multi-racial working class and the multi-modal, predominantly female child care workforce.” There are number of factors that are converging to make the passage of universal childcare in this state very likely in the next couple of years. It is critical to build the range of cooperative models of childcare so that we’re prepared to take advantage of the funding stream that will become available with universal childcare. 

Zulma Rivera, of Neighbor to Neighbor and Emily Kawano, of the Wellspring Cooperative  are piloting mutual aid based Neighborhood Learning Pods in Springfield for home based education and childcare. Wellspring is also developing a national worker and parent owned childcare coop called CareShare with three national partners: Cooperation Jackson, Co-op Cincy and Cooperacion Santa Ana. 

Liliana Avendaño, Catalina Rojas, Luz Zambrano, of el Centro Cooperativo de Desarollo y Solidaridad (CCDS) described their East Boston-based coop developer and community of coops, largely led by immigrant women. One example is Resplandor, a mobile bi-lingual startup worker coop currently providing childcare to community groups and nonprofits for events, with the aim of first providing home based childcare and then opening a childcare center. Resplandor started with four members in 2016 and now has 17!

Learn more about these exciting emergent childcare solutions, by watching the full presentations here.

Mutual aid is the building block of solidarity economy because it comes from the clear understanding that our collective liberation is bound together. Berkshire Mutual Aid is blowing the roof of the concept of “caring for our people” by rubbing pennies together and making a type of gold that’s literally saving lives, hearts, homes etc – an impenetrable community fabric.

Nicole Fecteau, of Roots & Dreams & Mustard SeedsAnaelisa Jacobsen and Nancy Gomez of Manos Unidas Multicultural Educational Cooperative and Julie Berger of South County Disability Rights Group discussed the amazing work they are doing together, supporting Berkshire Mutual Aid (BMA). BMA has created a structure for mutual aid by simply connecting people in need with people who have something to share. The majority of the time, the person with a need is someone who has and is willing to share something with others as well – whether that’s time distributing food or passing out tents, sewing masks,helping coordinate online, providing interpretation, or donating financially. BMA has a Facebook Group with 3.9k members and google form for posting needs and offers, and organizes large scale distribution of organic food and other necessities weekly (every Saturday 12-2 at 361 North St, Pittsfield).

Watch Berkshire Mutual Aid’s full presentation here.

Statewide Campaigns:
Coalition for Worker Ownership and Power (COWOP) 

The Coalition for Worker Ownership and Power (COWOP) met in October to discuss the unprecedented opportunities to create policy infrastructure for a robust worker ownership ecosystem, in our communities all across Massachusetts. This is an incredibly exciting moment for solidarity economy and coop activists across the state to throw down on policy advocacy for worker ownership. From COWOP Coordinator, Amethyst Carey:“Our campaign committee has spent the last two months incorporating feedback we got from convening attendees, reaching out to other organizations, and talking with legislators. After factoring in our capacity, what we think is possible (or worth pushing for) in the state, and what will be impactful now and in the long term, our committee has settled on these 4 items from our platform:

1. Worker-Owner Training and Development
2. Increased funding for Technical Assistance
3. Certification
4. Grants and Guarantees. Please reach out to to learn more about the many ways to get involved!

Reflections on Radical Transformation:
Moving from a Singular System Story to Pluriverse

By Penn Loh

This essay is a confession of sorts, from someone who believes that other worlds are possible and has worked in grassroots movements to fight against injustices and unsustainabilities for the last three decades.
Coming of Age at the “End of History”

I came into adulthood and was politicized during the so-called “end of history” in the latter stage of the Reagan administration. US imperialism had succeeded against a dying Soviet (state-centered) communist bloc. American-style neoliberal capitalism was inevitably going global, since “there is no alternative”. Though I was of a generation mentored by veterans of the New Left movements of the 1960s and versed in a Marxist political-economic understanding of the “system”, we eschewed the fragmented ideological sectarian remains of the radical movements of the 60-70s, which we saw as overly dogmatic, often lacking in anti-racist commitment, and at times cultish.

In the early 1990s, I was swept into the burgeoning environmental justice (EJ) movement that centered anti-racism and integrated environment into a justice perspective. The core EJ strategy was building the power base in affected communities. While we fought against environmental racism, EJ was ultimately about community control and building healthy, livable, and just communities.

Thus, we put our efforts into base-building organizations, developing leadership one person at a time, and waging grassroots campaigns.

Continue Reading… 

Conjunctural Politics, Cultural Struggle, and Solidarity Economy

An Interview with Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson

Boone Shear: How might the Left engage in a struggle that doesn’t just create progressive reforms that shore up liberalism and white supremacy but that begins to work towards and assemble other ways of being in the world? I am thinking here a bit in terms of what you described as non-reformist reforms in the first essay in Jackson Rising, practices and policies that subvert the logic of the capitalist system, “upend its relations, and subvert its strength … [and] seek to create new logics, new relations, and new imperatives” (Akuno and Nangwaya 2017, 17). How to struggle in and against the violence of patriarchal racist capitalist modernity and pull open and expand more fundamental ruptures or breaks so we can reorient and organize around life and relationality and autonomy?

Kali Akuno: I think that there is a path already in the present, I really do. I’ve been trying to look at what already exists, particularly since COVID-19, in the level of mutual-aid response. We haven’t seen that since the Great Depression. It’s gotten hardly any attention. I think even in the movement, it hasn’t received adequate attention. And it’s a remarkable development. To me it’s demonstrated that there is still something left of a deeper humanity in this empire, a humanity that neoliberalism as a cultural project has tried to do away with—this is actually the most successful dimension of the neoliberal project, but it hasn’t broken that down completely. That’s a deeply encouraging sign. And I think in some respects, mutual aid and care really are the bedrock on which we need to be thinking about how we construct the alternatives. I think that’s it. We’ve seen mutual aid play out almost everywhere in kind of a spontaneous motion—there’s been medics, there’s been food pantries, and other care. And it’s set up everywhere quickly.Now why am I saying this? Because I think it speaks to some of the work in the movement, and I think in particularly the solidarity economy. And it speaks to the success of some of our advocacy, even if we didn’t necessarily see it borne out as we wanted to, before COVID-19, in practice. But beyond that advocacy, now the practice of cooperation and care is here on a level I think far faster, wider, and deeper than we imagined even six months ago. It’s here now. The question I think is to what degree can it be politicized, and to what end?

Read interview in full

Solidarity Economy Celebration Corner

1.) CommuniTechz is a brand new worker coop offering computer repair, setup, virus removal and support services in Pittsfield! We’ve seen this year just how important having a working computer is and that’s not changing anytime soon.

CommuniTechz is part of a growing solidarity economy ecosystem in the Berkshires supported by Roots & Dreams and Mustard Seeds, Manos Unidas Multicultural Educational Cooperative and others.

2.) There is a rich history and emerging movement of cooperative business and solidarity economy initiatives in Pioneer Valley, and in Franklin County in particular. Congratulations to solidarity economy winners of the Greenfield Recorder’s 2020 Favorites awards:

Franklin Community Co-op/Green Fields Market & McCusker’s Market: Favorite Place for Sandwiches, for Soups, and for Vegetarian Selection! PV Squared: Favorite Local Solar CompanyGreenfield Farmers Co-op: Favorite spot to Buy Lawn, Garden or Home Equipment and also the Favorite Garden Center and Favorite Pet/Animal Supply Store! Franklin First Federal Credit Union: Favorite Credit Union and as a finalist for Favorite Loan Services, Mortgage Lender, Online Banking and Local Bank! Freedom Credit Union and Workers Credit Union: finalists in Favorite Credit Union. The Compost Cooperative: Favorite Finalist for Local Recycling Company.

Learning Corner

1.) Movement moment required reading! Beautifully highlighting 27 grassroots and largely BIPOC-led mutual aid and solidarity based organizations and communities across Massachusetts. These groups were part of the Mass Redistribution Fund (MRF), a project hosted by the Center for Economic Democracy.

The Mass Redistribution Fund (MRF) was created in early April 2020 by a group of Greater Boston-based social justice organizers. Their aim was two-fold: to support the immediate mutual aid crisis-response projects that were emerging in the vacuum of government neglect, and to strengthen social movements that are building community resilience and fighting for solutions that will prevent future crises.

As MRF garnered support from grassroots partners, donors and foundations, its leaders continued to expand the network across the state of Massachusetts to redistribute resources to community-led groups waging similar long-term fights and responding directly to their communities’ needs.

Explore the 2020 Mass Redistribution Fund Storybook
2.) The power of community currency! Great introduction to BerkShares Local Currency, established and stewarded by Massachusetts’ own Schumacher Center for a New Economics in Great Barrington, MA. 

From The Boston Globe’s “When money is running short, print your own” written by Julia Hotz, December 24, 2020:”BerkShares, the region’s currency, are redeemable at over 400 Berkshires businesses — good for buying a pastry at the bakery or an hour of a lawyer’s time. Printed as real paper bills and adorned with hometown heroes like “The Souls of Black Folk’ author W.E.B. DuBois, BerkShares can be purchased at three local banks. And for shoppers, those fancy notes are more than just a reminder to ‘buy local’; they’re also a way to get 5 percent off, because $95 gets you 100 BerkShares.”

Events and Opportunities

Greater Boston Chamber of Cooperatives is hosting a Collective Courage Reading Group! Connect with co-op and solidarity economy organizers through shared learning for liberation. The book features some sweet Massachusetts history including:

In 1842 members of the Northampton Association established a ‘utopian’ community organized around a communally owned and operated silk mill. Like the co-ops of the Rochdale Pioneers, the co-operators of the Northampton association of Education and Industry had many facets and goals including the abolition of slavery, communal living, and racial and gender equality. They governed themselves democratically according to one member-one vote and many of the members lived above the silk factory that they operated as a worker co-operative…African American abolitionist speaker Sojourner Truth lived and worked at the Northampton Association for a number of years traveling to her speaking engagements along with Frederick Douglass and others from that home base.
Jessica Gorden Nemhard, Collective Courage, “Worker Co-operatives in Context,” p5

Contact Ivy Lee, GBCC Board Member and member of the Olio Culinary Collective at if you’d like to join.
Want to support people in your community to create worker-owned cooperatives?

Check out the Center for Family Life (CFL) Cooperative Development Program’s first ever national and bilingual  6-session training series on organizing & supporting worker co-ops (biweekly, April-June). CFL has been building upon this series for 8 years in-person. This year, their virtual training series will be bilingual (English/Spanish), and they are welcoming groups and individuals from all across the United States interested in learning how to help communities organize worker cooperatives.

Join the Feb 17 info session to learn more! RSVP for the Feb 17 Info Session.
Our Common Wealth

Our Common Wealth: Fall 2020 Edition

Wave art by Sarah Jacqz!

 a newsletter by and for the solidarity economy in Massachusetts and beyond, brought to you by:
The Center for Economic Democracy (CED)
Massachusetts Solidarity Economy Network (MASEN)
and the Coalition for Worker Ownership and Power (CoWOP)

Questions, comments, or resources to share? Write to us at

Letter from the Editors

Edition #2
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Dear friends,

Since we wrote to you last, almost six months ago, the crises we face have intensified. We find ourselves in a time of world-ending suffering and world-making possibility. Racial capitalism, ecological crisis, indigenous dispossession, and the oppressive nature of the state are being discussed and debated in mainstream media. In this moment of reckoning, we must move beyond a politics that seeks a return to an imagined kinder, gentler capitalism. Business as usual is what has brought us here, and we cannot go back.

Across Massachusetts, our movement for other economies and other ways of being has been gaining traction in rural, urban and suburban areas of the state. Amidst widespread precarity, police violence, homelessness, and dream-killing debt-loads, initiatives continue to emerge that put people and planet over profit: community controlled economiesdecommodified land and housingcooperatives of all kinds, and forms of exchange that center community and care.  This moment calls for our movement to keep fighting and building solidarity economies, led by front-line communities, who have long survived and thrived through mutual aid and deep relationality.

We note that we are still growing our capacity to publish a fully bilingual newsletter, one that goes beyond English/Spanish translation and captures the wide range of culture, knowledge and experiences within our solidarity economy ecosystem. We aren’t there yet, but are grateful to be working with folks who are guiding us there.

Questions, comments, or resources to share? Write to us at

Amethyst Carey and Boone Shear
on behalf of the Our Common Wealth editorial board

Table of Contents

  1. Statewide Network Updates from MA Solidarity Economy Network (MASEN) and Coalition for Worker Ownership and Power (CoWOP)
  2. Sneak Peak! Illustrations on the centrality of prison abolition in our efforts to build just worlds, by Sarah Jacqz
  3. Readers’ Poll: What does mutual aid mean to you?
  4. Snapshots: Western Mass’s Worker Cooperatives During the Pandemic, by Emily Kawano
  5. Interviews in Solidarity with leaders from the River Valley Co-op and Springfield Community Land Trust
  6. A conversation with Cooperation Jackson’s Kali Akuno on how mutual aid practices might offer a path towards revolutionary transformation
  7. Upcoming Events and Trainings
  8. Wisdom on the Web 
  9. Books We’re Reading

Statewide Network Updates

Massachusetts Solidarity Economy Network (MASEN) is rolling! 

We have active groups of volunteers working on mapping solidarity economy around the state, policy, convenings and long term vision for the network. Our interview outreach is allowing us to connect with potential solidarity economy businesses, initiatives, organizations and communities and to build relationships on an individual level, while continuing to learn about the movement landscape within the Commonwealth.

A recent win was getting all five of the US Solidarity Economy Network’s policy priority areas into the Green New England Deal policy platform, and getting positive responses from the Markey and Kennedy campaigns for US Senate. The five key solidarity economy initiatives outlined are:

1) worker-owned cooperatives
2) public banking
3) participatory budgeting
4) community land trusts, and
5) community-owned, local energy production/distribution. 

Stay tuned for a series of upcoming online convenings and the launch of our website! Please reach out to Hendrix Berry ( if you’re interested in joining a volunteer working group.

Coalition for Worker Ownership & Power (CoWOP) will share an update in our next edition of the newsletter. Stay tuned! Exciting things are brewing!

Narrative Illustration, SNEAK PEAK!

by Sarah Jacqz

What are connections between abolition and solidarity economy?  
(Part 1 of 3)

These images offer a sneak peak of a narrative illustration exploring the possibilities abolition and solidarity economy offer for dismantling systems of harm and creating new worlds now. Featuring wisdom from abolition and solidarity economy scholar-practitioners like Angela Davis, Charlene Carruthers and USSEN members Emily Kawano and Julie Matthei, the full illustration will come out this Fall!

Readers’ Poll: What is Mutual Aid?

Send us stories, articles, movies, and/or experiences that have shaped your perspective. We’ll publish a selection of your responses in our next edition.
1. What does mutual aid mean to you and your people?

2. How is mutual aid different from charity?

3. What’s the difference between mutual aid and solidarity economy?

4. What needs to happen for mutual aid to be more than a temporary response to a crisis, but a long-term part of infrastructure and movement-building? Do you see this happening already? Reply to this email or send responses to
We look forward to hearing from you!

Snapshots: Western MA’s 
Worker Co-ops During the Pandemic 

By Emily Kawano, co-director Wellspring Cooperative

Images of Real Pickles ingredients and products, worker cooperative based in Greenfield

The pandemic has hit small businesses hard. A MassInc survey of 1,869 small businesses found that 52 percent are partially closed and 13 percent are completely closed. Of businesses with revenues less than $24,000, 26 percent were closed. Meanwhile, 46 percent laid off or furloughed workers, and those with more than 5 workers on average shed 60 percent of their workers.

Worker cooperatives are facing the same challenges. How are they faring and how have they responded to this crisis?  

These stories from four co-ops in western Massachusetts — Real Pickles in Greenfield, MA; Wellspring Upholstery Cooperative and Wellspring Harvest in Springfield, MA; and GreenLove Ecocleaning, in Pioneer Valley — illustrate not only the hardships experienced by many small businesses, but also the ways in which the co-ops have prioritized the welfare of the workers, their customers and their communities.

Read the full story here.

What are connections between abolition and solidarity economy
(Part 2 of 3) Illustrations by Sarah Jacqz

Interviews in Solidarity 

This issue of the newsletter begins our regular feature Interviews in Solidarity, where we talk to solidarity economy businesses and organizations across the state of Massachusetts about their efforts, challenges, and aspirations.

To be featured in future editions, write to us at

Interview with Dorian Gregory and Rochelle Prunty of the River Valley Coop

by Jess Slattery and Allyson Brauns

Q: What are some of the benefits of having a co-op model?

Rochelle Prunty:  In the current system, the food system that we have, the giant corporations control nearly everything — they control the land, they control the production, they control the grocery store chains. It is the manufacturers that decide what gets put on the grocery store shelves, the stores sell shelf space to the manufacturers for them to sell what they want to the customers. This food system is like a big machine that sucks the money out of our communities and into big oil, chemical, and agriculture corporations which basically use our grocery dollars to fund destroying the land and the environment with chemical use, monoculture, and oil extraction to produce and sell us food that mostly isn’t even very healthy for us and uses exploitive labor practices for food production.

This system of huge corporations producing relatively inexpensive food for us has huge costs to the health of our planet and people. When we own a grocery store, together, with our community for the purpose of serving our community, we can divert some of that funding that’s going into that big food system that is doing all these bad things — into our own community to support our local farmers and support our community. Retail co-op grocery stores offer a way to break the chain of all our food dollars flowing into the corporate food system.

Read the full interview here.

Interview with Zaida Govan of the Springfield Community Land Trust

by Nellie Marshall-Torres

Q: How do you see your work fitting into a larger vision or movement for social transformation?

Zaida Govan: Social justice has so many arms to it. We have so many different systems that are affecting our population. The housing system, the financial system, the health system– all of that has to be worked on. No one person can do everything. So I think the land trust is one piece of the larger piece of the social justice movement that is going on in our country right now. And as we know, as history has taught us, racism is ingrained in all of that, so it’s at the root. So anytime that we can address an issue in an anti-racist way, that will be able to impact hopefully all of the other stuff going on.

Read the full interview here.

From Mutual Aid to Revolutionary Transformation

A conversation with Kali Akuno 

The following is a short excerpt of an interview Conjunctural Politics, Cultural, Struggle, and Solidarity Economy with Kali Akuno. Kali is a cofounder and codirector of Cooperation Jackson, a revolutionary project that is building a solidarity economy in Jackson, Mississippi. He is co-editor of Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, MS. 
Boone Shear: …it’s pretty clear that liberals and progressives are winning the cultural struggle over the Left, for the moment. At the same time, it is still pretty remarkable how public discourse has changed in the past few weeks with systemic racism, racial capitalism, abolition, and even defunding the police—these are all new narratives and discourses to struggle over in the broad public arena. And then things like mutual-aid relationships and projects have exploded, some movements have become quite militant, acts of solidarity large and small are widespread. How might the Left engage in a struggle that doesn’t just create progressive reforms that shore up liberalism and white supremacy but that begins to work towards and assemble other ways of being in the world?

Kali Akuno: I think that there is a path already in the present, I really do. I’ve been trying to look at what already exists, particularly since COVID-19, in the level of mutual-aid response. We haven’t seen that since the Great Depression. It’s gotten hardly any attention, and it’s a remarkable development. To me it’s demonstrated that there is still something left of a deeper humanity in this empire, a humanity that neoliberalism as a cultural project has tried to do away with—this is actually the most successful dimension of the neoliberal project, but it hasn’t broken that down completely. That’s a deeply encouraging sign. And I think in some respects, mutual aid and care really are the bedrock on which we need to be thinking about how we construct the alternatives….

If we’re able to politicize this and then organize it to reach 40 or 50 or 60 million people, if we do that, we can take the best practices of the Unemployed Councils work, and, you know, there are people out there talking about a Poor People’s Army. And if we can do that, we have it. Like, we could objectively have it, and have it working in such a way that it is building the alternative outside of the state, outside the established capitalist market. And then it might be able to build enough strength to make a real go at it, a real challenge to not just make demands on the state, which are set up in a way in which we’re asking the businesses and the managers to implement some things on our behalf, but are really chipping away and building direct governance and control.

We have that ability to get us there.

Read the full interview here.

Events and Trainings

Click here to submit jobs, events or trainings for the next edition of Our Common Wealth.

Rooted & Ready: Eviction Defense for the Renter NationFrom Right to the City Alliance

The Rooted & Ready Training Series will review the basics of the eviction process and share helpful tips you can use to stop evictions in your neighborhoods. We will hear from on-the-ground experts and learn the tactics and tools we need to prepare ourselves mentally, emotionally and tactically to defend our homes. Every Wednesday, September 2nd – 30th, there will be live interpretation from English to Vietnamese, Spanish, Haitian Kreyol, & Cantonese.Every Thursday, September 3rd – 24th there will be live interpretation from Spanish to English.

2020 Reframe Mentorship
Four Part Strategic Communications Virtual Training Series

Reframe Mentorship with Kairos

Wisdom on the Web

We feed and clothe each other, handle medical emergencies, reclaim empty housing for our unhoused neighbors and talk to each other about safety. We know what we need, and we keep us safe.
– Kayla Reed and Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson

A New World Is Possible: Defund Police And Fund Black Lives
Essence Magazine

Mariame Kaba
Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police. The New York Times

United Frontline Table
A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative EconomyToolkit 

Books We’re Reading

What we practice changes what we read and what we read changes what we practice. Tell us what you’re reading!
 “What are you reading these days?” Below is a short list of titles shared by Judy Diamondstone, Nia Evans, Penn Loh, Amrita Wassan, Libbie Cohn, and Addison Turner. 
From Robin D.G. Kelley’s Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
“The vestiges of slavery were everywhere in the Jim Crow South. More important than the memory of slavery, however, was the memory of freedom. The two generations that preceded Thelonious’s lived through one of the greatest revolutions and counterrevolutions in the history of the modern world. Thelonious, his sister Marion, and brother Thomas were raised by people for whom freedom had tangible meaning. They heard first-hand stories of emancipation from their parents; stories of black men going to the polls and running for office, of former slaves founding churches and schools, and helping to build a new democracy in the Southern states.

“For any Southern black person living between 1865 and 1900, freedom wasn’t a word taken for granted or used abstractly. As Thelonious’s parents in turn passed to him, freedom meant more than breaking the “rules” of musical harmony or bending tempos. His grandparents were part of freedom’s first generation of African-Americans, a generation that could dream of a good life under a hopeful democracy. Yet his parents watched that democracy–and their freedom–burn, sometimes literally, under assault by white supremacists as Jim Crow laws descended across the South. The disenfranchisement of black folk and the restoration of power to the old planter class was rapid and violent. Like many families, the Monks never lost their memory of post-Civil War freedom, or their determination to possess it once again.”
The passage above, from Kelley (2010) stood out to Nia Evans, Executive Director of the Boston Ujima Project, and served as inspiration for a week of events Ujima hosted last month. They called the week “To Possess Freedom Once Again.” “I was struck by the notion of having once intimately known what we’re striving for and creating today. A remembrance and excavation of history that I think is important in our work,”  said Nia. 

In my own community I have been taught that to put something in the improper place is oppression, and the right place for knowledge is in people, not in books. Endless gratitude to these authors and the members of the Massachusetts Solidarity Economy whose feet touch the ground, who have the patience to reach back and retrieve what was left behind, and inherit the practice and wisdom of Resistance. -Addison Turner, Worcester Roots
Rest in power, David Graeber (1961-2020)
Radical anthropologist and activist
Read reflections from his friends and colleagues at the New York Review of Books

Our Common Wealth

Our Common Wealth: Solidarity Economy Resources

Wave art by Sarah Jacqz!

Hello and welcome to Our Common Wealth, a newsletter by and for the solidarity economy in Massachusetts and beyond. Questions, comments or resources to share? 
Email us at 

Nuestra Riqueza Común: Un boletín por y para la economía solidaria de Massachusetts. Por favor contáctenos con preguntas, sugerencias, or recursos adicionales al

Dear friend,
How the world has changed. 

We were at a crossroads before this moment, but now, more starkly than ever, there is a road ahead towards increased privatization and a road towards deeper cooperation and democracy. We have been asking ourselves:  How can we fight for and build the world we need during and after this crisis?  What opportunities are shifting in our work to create a regenerative, solidarity economy?

We had planned to send our first newsletter next month about what’s been going on across Massachusetts in the solidarity economy and cooperative movements. But events have overtaken us, and we’re pivoting to meet this moment with a rapid response newsletter. Below, we have lifted up mutual aid networks, local grassroots and policy campaigns, and other incredible solidarity economy resources that are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic across our region.

This pandemic has upended everything— our communities, our work, our play, as well as the broader economy, politics and society. Nothing and no one is untouched. Now, more than ever, it is clear that the way through this crisis is solidarity economy in practice— mutual aid and democratic self-organizing, caring for each other, community production, and people fighting and mobilizing to demand stronger and more responsive local and state governments. Together, this is how we ensure that our people can meet our needs and build better futures for ourselves and our communities.

We will continue to update our list of statewide solidarity resources — if you have any additions, please email us at We’ve also written a joint statement exploring the critical role of solidarity economy and economic democracy during this pandemic and after — you can read it at the bottom of this newsletter. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

In loving solidarity,
Addison, Amethyst, Boone, Emily, Hendrix and Libbie

 Our Common Wealth is a collaborative newsletter brought to you by:
The Center for Economic Democracy (CED)
Massachusetts Solidarity Economy Network (MassSEN)
and the Massachusetts Employee Ownership Coalition

Local and State Covid-19 Resources

Un boletín por y para la economía solidaria de Massachusetts

La mayoría de los siguientes recursos son disponibles en inglés, pero hemos recopilado todos los recursos en idioma español en una sección.

We’ve compiled local and state resources from across Massachusetts in one place, and organized them by region. We’ll continue to update the document, which reflects the incredible solidarity responses to the pandemic across the state, from mutual aid efforts, organizing demands, to funds and more.

Click the image to view our resource document pulling together Massachusetts solidarity economy responses to Covid-19. We’ll be updating frequently so check back for more!

Please reach out with questions, comments or additional resources to:
Por favor contáctenos con preguntas, sugerencias, or recursos adicionales al:

A Change of Pace 
(& Some Comedic Relief)

In this fast-moving time, our days are full with tending to our family’s well-being, supporting our neighbors, and fighting like hell to defend our communities and our people. Yet in the midst of so much uncertainty, this moment also calls for us to attend to the spirit and make space for reflection. As we watch and experience this global rupture, we are asking: what is shifting in our society and in our consciousness? How is this moment changing us?

It’s with this spirit that we share this little joyful comic from Sarah Jacqz on the pandemic from the eyes of our feathered and deep sea friends…

Check out WANDA: a comic strip on the pandemic from the eyes of our feathered and deep sea friends. By Sarah Jacqz

Solidarity Economy
During Crisis and Beyond 

The pandemic and economic crisis are exposing the limits of our economic system every day, and they are also revealing a way out of it.  As this crisis has highlighted, capitalism has infected our lives and our politics with false and dangerous “common sense” ideas, like the idea that we are best understood as individuals, that our desires to consume are endless, and that we should compete to own and control others rather than cooperating to meet our needs. 

But it’s in moments of crisis like this one that the solidarity economy emerges with love and power for all to see. The explosion of coordinated mutual aid efforts–community members caring for one another across MA and beyond–has shown that we can organize ourselves around the fundamental principle of interdependence: from each according to their ability to each according to their needs. Local mutual aid networks are delivering food and groceries, helping with childcare, offering medical support, preventing evictions, producing basic medical supplies for under-supplied facilities, supporting local businesses, demanding decarceration, and much more!

Though this type of collective care and support often blossoms in moments of crisis, especially when the government is unable or unwilling to care for people, mutual aid and cooperative efforts of all kinds are present in all of our lives and have a long history especially in low-income communities of color and underserved communities. Mutual aid is care work, and the critical role of domestic labor and care—often devalued and disproportionately done by women and communities of color— is more central than ever in this time of quarantine and sheltering-in-place. Grocery workers and food providers, farm workers, teachers, child care providers, nurses and other health care workers are holding down the most essential work in our economy, in contrast to the work of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, and the political establishment.

The growing solidarity is also about building power and resisting the violence of the state and of large corporate interests, especially against frontline communities and communities of color. While new and exciting forms of digital organizing are blossoming online, we are also inspired by sanitation workers in Pittsburgh who are refusing to pick up trash until their demands about safety are met. In Georgia, workers walked out of a Perdue chicken processing plant over health concerns. In Portland, Oregon food service employees are organizing for safe conditions. Meanwhile, educators and organizers came together in NYC to demand the school campuses close and community needs be met in the face of the pandemic.

Another dimension of crises like this one is the shift in what is possible. Things we have fought for for years are suddenly on the table, and as different futures open up, we must shape them to create the just, sustainable economy our people and planet need. Make no mistake: the powerful are also seeking to transform our economy in this moment of possibility, but we know better than to settle for a return to normal or to a kinder, gentler capitalism of an imagined past. It’s on us to resist the bids to privatize and concentrate greater amounts of power and wealth in their hands. Capitalism itself must be confronted and rejected. To grow our solidarity economy, we must demand that all levels of government serve the common good, including compensating for past harm done.

This moment is a crossroads for our country and our communities — just like you, we are wondering: will we further privatize public goods, cut public programs and cement the power of the already incredibly wealthy? Or will we build on the explosion of mutual aid and emergency policy to build infrastructure for an economy that works for everyone? What roles will we play in ensuring the future we want and need?

We want to hear how you are answering these questions, and how solidarity economy is blooming around you in this time of great difficulty and great possibility. Share your stories, reflections or questions at