Right now my pal and colleague Gilad Babchuk and I are developing a new project called, well, GROUNDSWELL! Our idea comes in two parts:
The first piece is to construct a greenhouse for economic alternatives: a training institute where young people (up to age 35) can come together for a year’s intensive program to imagine, design and build new enterprises. These projects will include cooperatives, collectives, non-profits, arts and artisanal enterprises, self-employment scenarios and other grassroots configurations: all explicitly contributing to a community economic fabric of reciprocity.
· Each program will run for ten months: 4 months of intensive work, a month of strategizing and proposal planning, then 5 months of supported project development.
· Over the course of the program participants will develop the comprehensive skills - individually and collectively – needed to run their own enterprises.
· The three essential and necessary components of these ventures are: A democratic governance structure: a commitment to equitable decision-making; An ethical basis: a commitment to ecological and social justice; Solidarity: a commitment to co-operation and collaboration
The second piece is that once graduates leave our program, their new initiatives will be linked into a network of enterprises and projects: a web of mutual aid and support. Each new enterprise will contribute to a community chest that will support initiatives deep into the future and continue to build a network based on ongoing reciprocity and interconnectedness.
We will welcome all kinds of participants from all kinds of socio-economic backgrounds with all kinds of levels of experience: the key is that they are motivated, excited to work hard and collaboratively, and are in a place in their lives where they are ready to build something. We are especially interested in reaching out to lower-income youth, youth from immigrant families and those with limited access to existing programs, particularly those from suburban municipalities. It is critical however that we nurture a rich group of participants with diverse backgrounds.
We’re making some great progress pulling this project together - with any luck we’ll have a whole lot more to announce soon. We’re aiming to have a full project up and running by Sept. 2013 and a pilot underway well before then. If you have any thoughts, suggestions or advice - or if you’re interested in being part of this - please do contact us.