By Parker Reposa
The Community Innovators Lab at MIT (CoLab) and the 2018 Mel King Community Fellows are hosting a historic Hearing on Economic Democracy focused on the question: “How can we build an economy that works for New Yorkers of color?” The Hearing will take place Tuesday November 20th, from 6pm – 9pm, at New York City Hall. This historic City-&-State Hearing on Economic Democracy will showcase the enormous opportunities NYC has to develop an equitable economy that works for New Yorkers of color, and thus, all New Yorkers.
If you are interested in attending the hearing, RSVP HERE.
CoLab, a center for planning and development based within the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, works with community organizations across the Americas to build economic democracy and self-determination. We define economic democracy as a system where people share ownership over the resources in their communities and participate equally in deciding how they are used. As Mel King Community Fellows, thirteen legislators representing the Bronx and Central Brooklyn have explored local and global examples of economic democracy, including visiting the Mondragon Cooperatives in Spain and the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (BCDI) in NYC.
BCDI is a community-led effort to build a more sustainable, equitable, and democratic local economy that creates wealth and ownership for low income people of color. BCDI is developing a network of diverse partners and community enterprises that currently include four major projects:
- A Planning and Policy Lab, a center for economic democracy planning and policy development—by, with, and for the Bronx.
- The BronXchange, a marketplace that connects Bronx institutions and nonprofits with local businesses in order to localize their purchasing and build community wealth.
- The Bronx Innovation Factory, a center for advanced manufacturing led by women and people of color, focused on shared wealth creation and innovations that matter for Bronx Residents.
- An Economic Democracy Learning Center, a leadership development institute that prepares stakeholders of all types to lead this new future; cultivates a culture rooted in economic democracy principles; and advances the overall field of economic democracy based on experiences in the Bronx and inspirational examples from around the world.
All together, BCDI is a transformative model for urban economic development that can serve as an example for other communities across the US and the world.
The agenda will be broken up into 4 sections. It will start with an opening statement from CoLab framing how economic democracy can work in the Bronx while also giving some background about what The Mel King Fellows have been learning over the past year.
Then the 13 Mel King Fellows will give a 15 minute overview about their time at Mondragon in Spain and their work with CoLab throughout the past year.
The bulk of the agenda will focus on stakeholder testimonies from grassroots activists, community organizers, and local leaders in the Bronx and beyond. This part of the hearing will be divided into three themes:
- Transformative Ideas from the Grassroots | Innovation From The Margin
- New York’s Underutilized Assets | Asset-Based Economic Development
- Opportunities for Collaboration | Transformative Partnerships
This landmark hearing brings 13 state and city legislators together to collaboratively work through ideas and strategies to bring about a more equitable and sustainable economy for New Yorker’s of color. If interested in attending, please RSVP HERE. If you are unable to attend, we encourage all to submit online testimonies to the hashtag #NY4EconomicDemocracy. For further instructions on submitting online testimonies follow this link! We hope you can be there for this transformative event.