News flash

I’ve got a couple of events coming up, so I figure that if I’ll share them with some strange reporters I should also probably share them with my dear readers. So here’s a press release about that for anyone who is in Sacramento or in the mood for a visit next week…

Events will offer grassroots solutions to the economic meltdown

Sacramento—The worsening financial turmoil presents an opportunity and a necessity for people to work together to meet our common needs. Two upcoming events in Sacramento will explore work that is underway on improving community food access, as well as models from other communities that have already faced economic crises.

On Wednesday March 4, the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op will host a panel on developing local food systems. It will begin at 6:30-8:00pm in the co-op’s education room at 1914 Alhambra Blvd. Several local organizations are working on creating ways of producing, distributing, and selling local produce so that control and profits remain in the community. Two of these will be highlighted—Soil Born Farm and Fresh Producers—while local author and co-op consultant Andrew McLeod will outline models from around the nation to inspire discussion of how these can be the seeds of greater growth.

On Thursday March 5, McLeod will lead a discussion of “The Economy of Sharing” as part of City Life Church’s Open Forum series; 6:00-7:30pm at Infusion Café, 1628 K St. This event will focus on grassroots responses to economic crisis and will be geared toward starting an ongoing effort to develop cooperative solutions to meet people’s needs in a disturbed economy. The discussion will include alternative currencies for barter, the recuperated workplaces that sprang up in the wake of Argentina’s 2002 economic collapse, community-owned stores that have been filling the void as chains abandon the rural U.S., cooperatives to provide affordable medical care, and the mutual aid networks that provided food and work during the depths of the Great Depression.

Soil Born Farms is an innovative and well-known organization that provides youth and adults with opportunities to participate in urban agriculture, while improving food access through its farm stand program. It operates two farms in the Sacramento area, at which it offers a variety of educational and volunteer opportunities. Soil Born will be represented on Wednesday by youth program coordinator Sara Smith-Rubio.

Fresh Producers provides business experience to young people, while it provides access to healthy food for their neighbors. Its program is based on selling fresh produce at below-retail prices in locations where it is most urgently needed in underserved neighborhoods, with profits going to benefit community organizations and a scholarship fund. Fresh Producers will be represented Wednesday by its director, Rabbi David Wechsler-Azen.

McLeod is as an independent consultant with the Davis-based California Center for Cooperative Development, a nonprofit consulting agency. McLeod’s past work has included assisting numerous food co-ops in the rural northwest, as well as researching models for community-based food production and distribution. He is the author of “Holy Cooperation!: Building Graceful Economies and maintains a blog on cooperative economic solutions at www.coopgeek.wordpress.com.

The modern cooperative movement touches the lives of nearly half of Americans and has grown into a comprehensive economic system in other parts of the world. It combines voluntary and democratic aspects, allowing members to work with those who share their values, rather than struggle against those who do not. It is a well-tested and flexible model that is well suited to address market failures like the one we face today.

More information is available at www.soilborn.org, www.freshproducers.org, and www.cccd.coop.

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