We are imagining and working to build an economy that puts people and planet before private profits and power.
In 2020, as the Covid-19 crisis was ravaging our communities and demands for racial justice continued to grow, a group of grassroots organizers came together to imagine and create an economy that invests in community well being and resilience. The first thing we did was look to the past and learn from the long history of innovation that Black and Indigenous communities have led in response to disinvestment and disenfranchisement. We then looked to the present to see and learn from the wealth of activity that is already going on in Virginia and around the US. Now we are looking to the future by developing relationships with those that share this vision and organizing the infrastructure to realize an economy that truly supports everyone in Virginia .
What is a Solidarity Economy?
A solidarity economy is an economy that works to the benefit of everyone doing so in ways that everyone can play an active role in making the decisions that impact their lives. This means that everyone should have access to jobs in which they control their labor, housing they can afford, food that will nourish them, a local government that will listen to and invest in them, and a community that recognizes it is stronger together than as a group of individuals. We can already see this in the development of cooperative businesses, mutual aid initiatives, participatory budgeting, community support agriculture, community land trusts/co-housing, time banks, and community loan funds.
Humanity faces an acute existential crisis as a result of the global extractive economy, with the most marginalized communities bearing the impact first. Human survival depends on healing and regeneration. The history of Black and Indigenous ancestors and of all people in Virginia and around the world has shown that communities that are part of a monetary economy cannot escape the extractive logic of markets without monetary sovereignty. The same history has also shown that when public projects not driven by market logic are undertaken, gaps in society can remain or increase in the absence of organized regenerative structures of solidarity. Therefore, the Virginia Solidarity Economy Network undertakes to catalyze democratization of an understanding of how monetary economies work and the formation of democratic and regenerative structures of solidarity in Virginia toward contributing to the emergence of a regenerative global solidarity economy.
The VA Solidarity Economy Network supports, educates, and connects people striving to build a more resilient and equitable economy based on shared values.
We envision a future for Virginia where . . . .
People have a greater say in how public funds are invested
Worker Cooperatives are being created and finding success
Land is seen as a collective asset
Everyone’s labor is valued and remunerated so that they can live outside of poverty.
All race, gender, and class disparities are overcome.
Virginians collectively share wealth of the economy’s success
We seek to live the following values as a platform for developing a solidarity economy in Virginia. We see ourselves as one piece of a much broader, global solidarity economy in which these values are considered and practiced holistically. While we believe they are inextricably linked to one another.
- Social and Economic Democracy: Economies and societies are made of of people and communities who have control over the decisions that affect their lives
- Cooperation and Shared Power: Power comes from working with mutual respect and accountability
- Equity and Justice: Everyone has access to the same rights and resources. Together we are responsible for guaranteeing those rights and resources.
- Democratic Participation: People have the right, ability, and responsibility to participate in building and protecting their communities.
- Sustainability: Systems and processes that support the needs of the people and the planet have the ability to keep going.
- Many Paths: There are lots of ways to reach collective liberation. Respecting people’s response to their own unique situation is paramount.
- Protecting and Growing Spirit, Culture, and Art: People and communities have the power to express themselves and have the right to culture, preserving their own traditional cultures while participating in creating culture.
- Ending Extraction: Our solutions have to actively work to end exploitation of resources, people, and labor- and the harm it does to communities- to work and create new cycles.
- Celebrating Life: Celebrating one another as holistic beings and celebrating our connection to all other life is at the center of our efforts to build a better world.
- Expanding the Commons: Solutions increase the shared control of resources like land, housing, healthcare, and human knowledge. Solutions also protect access, rights, and responsibilities to use and take care of these resources.
These principles inform how we go about our work to democratize power, access,
resources, capacity, and accountability for all people.
- Authentic Leadership: Leadership comes from people who are most impacted
- Democratic Ownership: We prioritize direct, local, democratic ownership and control over our lives
- Accessibility: We work to support people holistically and to create a world in which everyone can take action.
- Shared Responsibility: We are responsible to one another and share responsibility as a whole.
- Transparency: We listen for understanding and are honest with each other.
- Right Risks: We support each other to experiment and take risks, know that risks and their consequences are different for all of us.
- Whole Communities: We assert the power that comes from our communities’ culture and well being.
- Leadership Development: We share leadership and knowledge across communities and generations.
- Spectrum of Action: We push back against what harms us, use what helps us, and build what we need.
What is our purpose
The Virginia Solidarity Economy Network is a growing network of grassroots organizers focused on building an economy that seeks to overcome the crisis of capitalism by rooting itself in the history of Black and Indigenous ancestors and realizing the values of democracy, sustainability, equity, solidarity, and pluralism.
We educate, support and connect people interested in and/or already aligned with the solidarity economy. We will provide tools, including trainings, conversations, educational materials, and organizing resources, to people building their own solidarity-based solutions to economic and social oppression. (organizing, training, etc) (maybe here we can do a brief historical blurb merging JGN’s research with Readjster and indigenous history) to people solving their own problems.
We provide a space to contribute to, learn from, and create locally-controlled projects while maintaining an infrastructure that allows us to connect with broader regional, national and global networks.