Hello fediverse! This account will toot a few stories a week that are examples of solutions-focused journalism: how people are working to address inequality, prejudice, and exploitative economic systems. Want to help curate stories? Send a private message, either to this account or to @eloquence.
This account is not a bot - all stories are selected and summarized with love. :)
"Cities are not technology problems: what #SmartCity companies get wrong."
Excerpt from an upcoming book by Ben Green appropriately called "The Smart Enough City". Green, a Berkman Center Fellow at Harvard, argues that "actual innovation in cities means using tech in concert with bureaucracy, on-the-ground awareness, and challenging political choices."
A new "alternative economies" report from Unicorn Riot, a nonprofit media outlet:
"Over a hundred anti-capitalists [in Dijon, France] have created a nine hectare free district with urban gardens and a free market as they prevent development plans from being constructed. The occupiers are seeking to preserve agricultural land and experiment in collective living while demonstrating horizontal forms of community building."
"If rich parents think it’s worthwhile to pay for private schools with 15-person classes and seminar environments, let’s guarantee that to the children of Baltimore and Detroit. If teachers are downtrodden and fatigued and not inspiring, then let’s fucking pay them. Teaching should be a prestige job and there’s no reason it can’t be."
#ICE, created in 2003, acts as a vast deportation force across the United States. The Intercept writes about #ICEWatch, a geo-tagged database that contains "665 reported ICE operations, from apartment raids to curbside snatch and grabs", mainly in the New York area.
It documents, for example, the recent dramatic increase in courthouse arrests--a tactic that keeps human beings targeted by ICE who experience domestic violence or other private injustices in the shadows.
In this article in The Nation, Abdullah Shihipar writes about the growing movement of high school students in the US organizing in chapters of the Young Democratic Socialists of America:
"[T]hese students are committing themselves to a politics that imagines a world where everyone can live comfortably with access to free education and health care, where no one lives in fear of immigration agents or police, and where poverty has been eradicated."
Steve Dubb, Senior Editor at Nonprofit Quarterly, looks at the #SolidarityEconomy:
"[I]f our economic, political, and social systems are changing before our eyes, then community-based economics stops being a nice-to-have and starts becoming a must-have."
(H/T to @Matt_Noyes)
Co-ops, democratically run and emphasizing long-term sustainability over short-term profits, are a key part of the #SolidarityEconomy.
Earlier this month, Wired UK published a brief but interesting profile of "CoTech, a growing network of tech co-operatives in the UK. There are currently 30 tech businesses united under the CoTech banner, which range from filmmakers to programmers; they collectively employ more than 250 staff and have revenues of over £10.2 million."
In the US, banks are largely identified with private commercial gain; many other countries operate huge #PublicBanks that invest in needed infrastructure projects.
Wealthy states like #California have the ability to shake things up, but so far haven't shown the will.
Ellen Brown, who became an advocate for public banking after the 2008 financial crisis, makes the case for change in Yes Magazine:
In the 1970s, a group called NARMIC supported the movement against the #Vietnam war with research such as:
- the top 100 defense contractors making the war possible;
- a slideshow showing the automated weapons systems used, and their horrific impact.
LittleSis (which maintains a power research database of its own) is profiling this important work, so that it can inform and inspire #opendata activists today:
The interview unpacks many facets of this campaign, and the (pseudonymous) employee also makes the case for tech worker unionization:
Whether it's conflicts over land grabbing, water infrastructure or mining projects, the Environmental Justice Atlas (https://ejatlas.org/) tracks the struggles of social movements around the world for a sustainable and inclusive economy. An overview by Julie Snorek for The Conversation:
The Nation covers the growing movement for #PublicHousing solutions in the US:
"Movement leaders and thinkers are strategizing for a future in which the private market is diminished and noncommercial, community-controlled housing plays a central role in American life. In this alternative reality, public housing is massively expanded and #cooperatives, mutual-housing associations, and other nonmarket ownership models take root in cities large and small."
In particular, "The efficiency myth" by Nick Dowson provides an informative overview of the mounting body of empirical research showing that the idea of "market efficiency" does not withstand scrutiny for many public services:
Lucy Purdy writes about South London's new #LibraryOfThings, a community lending library for various tools and appliances:
The Wikipedia article about the movement is pretty comprehensive, as well:
When kids are fined fined by their #library for returning books late, they often stop reading altogether. An alternative approach: letting patrons "read away" their fines. Nice description of such a program by the LA Times from December:
"In Andalgalá, I am often told that even though the fight against mining is far from over, the cultural battle has been won. The myths of progress associated with mining have been debunked – and the struggle has generated a creative space for thinking about alternative economic and governing models."
Shareable has a nice if brief overview of three cooperative food movements:
1) The League of Urban Canners, a growing network in Boston to preserve backyard fruit, with an interesting "fruit-sharing" model. More about LUrC here:
2) Restaurant Day, which encourages anyone to briefly experience what it's like to run a restaurant;
3) Kitchen Share, a Portland lending library for kitchen tools.
"This train carries young and old, African men
Who are conscripted to come and work on contract
In the golden mineral mines of Johannesburg
And its surrounding metropolis, sixteen hours or more a day
For almost no pay."
The Atlantic takes a closer look at how Slack managed to create a more diverse tech team than most other US tech companies, e.g.:
- recruit via training programs focused on women, black and Latino engineers
- ditch whiteboard interviews
- wipe personal identifiers from code reviews
- standardize interview questions
- perform "mock interviews" with existing hires.
Some cities are proactive about incentivizing these kinds of developments:
social.coop is a cooperatively-run corner of the Fediverse. The instance is democratically governed by its members, who generally share an interest in the co-op model, but topics of discussion range widely.
Our instance is supported by sliding scale contributions of $1-10/mo made via Open Collective. You must have an active Open Collective account to apply for membership; you may set one up here