CommonBound Workshop Tracks

Tracks are a set of sessions (i.e. workshops, panels, or trainings) that share a common theme.

At CommonBound there will be 16 tracks, organized by volunteer coordination teams representing dozens of organizations in the new economy movement. These teams have written calls for participation outlining the specific types of sessions they're looking for. Click on the title of the track below to see a short description and link for more information.

Workshop Tracks

All over the world, networks and initiatives to transform our economic reality are gaining strength. For historical and cultural reasons, different countries may use different terminology. But there is a growing international convergence around the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) framework, which seeks to build an economy and society grounded in shared values of solidarity, equity in all dimensions, participatory democracy, sustainability and pluralism--hardly the one size fits all approach of today’s reigning economic dogma. What is the state of the SSE movement internationally now, and what should it be working toward? How can it strengthen local solidarity economy practices -- worker, consumer, financial and housing cooperatives; social currencies; CSAs; community land trusts; participatory budgeting--to build a more equitable, sustainable economy centered around people’s needs and aspirations?

No human being is illegal. All people have the right to self-determination. What was once stolen must be returned. One day--if our movements succeed--these statements will no longer be radical. They will be foundational principles that guide humanity in the face of resource scarcity, nationalism, and ecological pressures. This track will explore stories and strategies to help us imagine what a world beyond borders looks like. Topics we're interested in include: indigenous sovereignty, fair global trade, restorative justice, reparations, refugee rights, anti-racism and collective liberation, just migration policies, and more. This track will center the experiences and voices of migrant and indigenous peoples.

As inequality and climate change mount, business cannot be sustainable without replacing the core of capitalism’s extractive enterprise model. The future of business points toward deep questions of ownership, investment, control, and management. A new model called “Community Enterprise”--including businesses that are family run, worker-owned, community or “minority”-owned and consumer conscious--is showing a way forward.In recent years, these innovative firms have illustrated how productive, values-driven business is driving the turn toward an economy that provides sustainable, just, democratic, and cooperative livelihoods for all. This track will examine the transformative relationships being forged among the workers, community members, lenders, investors and municipal governments that, together, are propelling a shift to workplace and economic democracy. In each session, participants and presenters alike will explore how community enterprise can become a leading force and foundation for the just transition to a new economy.

The legacy of our economy’s foundation--on the theft of indigenous lands and lives, slavery, and colonialism--lives with us in many ways. An entrenched racial wealth gap leaves black and brown communities without basic economic security, and a growing prison economy profits off the misery of those same communities. Excluded from the mainstream, marginalized communities have been forced to innovate, reimagine, and challenge the status quo economy just to survive. Now, as more and more Americans of all colors are confronted with economic and ecological crisis, the resilient practices of frontline communities can serve as models for transforming all of society. This track will outline a vision and strategy for building an economy that values the labor and lives of people of color, providing attendees with the tools to imagine and work toward economic goals that center disinvestment from institutions that harm black life while building up alternative economies, institutions and community control. Participants will walk away from CommonBound ready to envision a multi-dimensional, radically inclusive plan for economic justice.

From the fight for the 8 hour day to the sit-down strikes that ushered in the New Deal, worker organizing has always played a central role in envisioning and building an economy that works for everyone. Yet today, unions find themselves on the defensive, struggling to respond effectively to coordinated attacks and the structural challenges of globalization, automation, and an economy pushing up against ecological limits. This track will explore some of the most dynamic strategies being employed to build a visionary labor movement for the 21st century. Participants will hear from leaders in unions and worker centers incubating worker and union co-operatives, gain insight into building power with community and environmental justice groups, learn tools demanding transformative reforms, and much more.

Working people generally, and rural folks in particular, feel alienated from Progressive economic, political and environmental movements, even as their lives and livelihoods have been shredded by conservative policies and governments. In this track we will assess both how we got to this place, and, more importantly, what emerging strategies hold the potential to turn the tide in rural areas and among working people. We will explore a handful of "bottom up economies" that are emerging in unlikely places (beyond coastal cities, in “flyover country”), identify common elements, and brainstorm through workshops how to rapidly and dramatically bring this model of transformation to other parts of the country. Involving long-time activists, thinkers and doers and rural and urban participants alike, track sessions will identify effective strategies--and pitfalls to avoid--in building a progressive, new economy movement that links practice with policy.

Our current food system is unjust, ecologically unsustainable, and built on the backs of those who grow, raise, catch, and handle our food. The explicit and hidden costs of food injustice are evident throughout our economy; from young families to seniors, schools to healthcare institutions, and workplaces throughout the country. Opportunities to create a more just food economy offer the potential to effect positive lasting change while dismantling the very practices that have led to the pervasive impact of food inequities. We must build a new food economy through innovative ecological businesses that racial equity and food justice, and ensure all those along our entire food chain can live healthy lives with integrity. This track will inform an evolving narrative and support a growing food movement that is democratically controlled, transparent, racially equitable, economically just, and ecologically responsible while leading to more vibrant, healthy and resilient communities.

Addressing climate change means creating a new economy. And that new economy requires a fundamentally new, decentralized and equitable energy model to power it. Energy democracy means bringing energy resources under public or community control and ownership--a key aspect of replacing our current corporate fossil-fuel economy with one that puts racial, social, and economic justice at the center of the transition to a 100% renewable energy future. That's no small task. This track will explore the many aspects of democratizing energy: political strategies, necessary policies, the grassroots and frontline community organizing needed to implement them, reconceptualizing the electrical grid, and the financing needed to build community-based renewable energy systems. Workshops covering these topics will highlight the experiences and challenges of each as well as their interdependencies. In this way, the track will serve to lift up and promote energy democracy as a key pathway to a just transition of the energy sector. The track will help build the collaboration and unity needed for energy democracy to contend with the mainstream goal of a decarbonized corporate economy premised on growth, and thereby strengthen the movement to bring about a more equitable, sustainable economy.

Gentrification, segregation, and displacement are growing problems for neighborhoods across the country. Low-income neighborhoods in major, prosperous cities are disappearing rapidly. From 1990 to 2010, several major cities than 50% of low-income communities were displaced by middle and upper-middle income communities. In the face of these trends, many ask if equitable community development is possible? Workshops in this track will explore examples of community organizing, as well as successful policy and communications strategies used by grassroots advocates to fight gentrification and ensure that community change doesn’t lead to the displacement of long-time residents and institutions. Participants will learn how to identify underlying economic, cultural, and environmental conditions that enable institutions (banks, government agencies, corporations)and individuals (real estate developers, civic boosters, elected officials) to advance projects and policies that create unjust and inequitable cities, and how we can work together across sectors and issue areas to build power within vulnerable communities. Participants will also walk away with strategies to implement in their own communities and grounded in a belief that equitable development is possible, that community organizing is critical, and that vulnerable communities have a direct role to play in building and controlling truly sustainable development models.

Our current economic system drives capital to seek the highest financial returns--but how can it be deployed to support regenerative and transformative agendas? We hope to engage Commonbound participants in discussion, learning and reflection on the role of capital in changing capitalism. Sessions in this track will examine efforts to repurpose public capital to fight privatization, expand the commons, and redefine public investment priorities. Workshops will also look at attempts to transform private investment through impact investing, non-extractive finance, and shared ownership structures. Sessions in this track will further explore philanthropic grantmaking that democratizes decision-making and redirects money to grassroots activism for economic and ecologic justice.

How can we create strategic, relational, and powerful connections between resistance to racism, imperialism, and global capitalism and efforts to build a better world? How does working in these intersections change how we think about movement ecology, community self-determination, and the scale of system transformation? This track will draw on international examples and lesser known US efforts to understand how different ways of taking action interact within a diverse movement ecosystem, and what that means for our work. Participants will walk away with frameworks, tools, and relationships to locate themselves in their movement and community ecosystem, and to use creative resistance, emergent strategy, and "democracy muscles" to deepen their work to create just, sustainable, and democratic futures. Coordinators: Rachel Plattus, Beautiful Solutions Elandria Williams, Beautiful Solutions Nadine Bloch, Beautiful Trouble

Our current economy is the product of public policies that have favored concentrated ownership, globally scaled systems of production, and ways of measuring value that ignore the health of the planet and our communities. If we want to truly transform the economy and ensure that more democratic models of production and ownership move from the margins to the mainstream, we need to change the laws and regulations that structure the economy. This track will take a deep dive into how we can develop and move policies that foster economic democracy, build community wealth, and expand local self-reliance. Together with participants, we will explore the new economy as a framework for policy-making, with a focus on local and state policy tools that community groups can use to by change the rules of local development and governance. We will present effective policies to democratize finance, and foster local and community ownership of business. We will discuss ways to integrate "new economy" policy and tools into existing community organizing efforts, and shine a light on successful local campaigns on new economy policy that are already under way.

Massive inequality, ecological degradation, a politics dominated by money, and a predatory financial sector are among the symptoms of a system in crisis. The seeds of system change are already being nourished in diverse ways across many countries -– from food and finance, to renewable energy, land reform, and social care. Can these cohere around a vision of a system that generates deeper community ties, economic equality, ecological sustainability and rooted democracy? Drawing on the innovations and insights of the New Economy ecosystem, "Building Toward the Next System" will host a bold and participatory conversation to develop the design and vision of a new political economy together, rooted in the experience of practical projects that point to systemic alternatives.

History tells us that in order to shift our political economy we must shift the culture that underpins it. Before progressive social changes are concretized into laws and institutions, public opinions shift through exposure to new stories that expand our ability to act more empathically toward ourselves, others, and the world around us. These new ways of thinking and being circulate through society via art and culture. Our current extractive economy relies on outdated cultural myths (e.g. scarcity, competition, etc.) to survive. To usher in a new economy, we must engage the public in changing these limiting narratives. Artists and cultural workers, when engaged as vehicles for social change, can do just that by tapping into the transformative power of human connection. Art and creative cultural interventions animate democratic processes, create space for transformative dialogue, and allow us to propose and rehearse new realities. Together, session leaders and participants alike will share thoughts and experiences on how art and culture can act as catalysts for the creation of the new economy, and how local economies can better support change-minded artists and cultural workers.

The Internet economy is, increasingly, determining the shape of the economy in general. Whether it’s the rise of the on-demand economy (through companies like Uber and TaskRabbit), the spread of sophisticated logistics software, the new “just-in-time” scheduling software being adopted across industries, or the use of technology to surveil shop floors, we’re all affected by technology at work in new ways.This track seeks to show how those of us who want to build a New Economy can react to those tools, and adapt them for our own projects as well. This track will explore points of intersection among Internet culture, cooperative economies, and labor organizing. Through the sharing of best practices and reflection on common challenges, we will forge some of the critical connections necessary to build a more democratic and just economy, online and off. Expect to learn about emerging tools for cooperative enterprise and online organizing, as well as movements to reverse the inequality-generating tendencies of the Internet economy. This is a chance to help build the real sharing economy.

What role do gender and sexuality play in the transformation of our economy? What would it look like to center work that has been made invisible in the current economy due to patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, and the devaluation of “domestic labor”? This track will explore the intersection of gender and economic justice, as made visible by movements for reproductive justice, domestic workers rights, LGBTQ rights, and feminist economics. Bringing together voices from all parts of the economy and representing paid and unpaid labor, we will interrogate the state of families, reproduction, care-work, and birthing in a capitalist system, and envision new worlds and new systems that value emotional, relational, and care labor.