For our New Economy series The Laura Flanders Show at GRITtv is highlighting solutions to our economically precarious times. Cooperatives have demonstrated the great power in working together, and this week we bring you the Green Worker Cooperative Academy.
To combat environmental hazards in the South Bronx brought on by industries such as waste facilities, sewage sludge processing, and distribution centers, Omar Freilla decided to start the Green Worker Cooperative Academy in 2003.
"I became very frustrated with the premise of most cities, and it happens in New York with economic development, that whatever the dirty polluters are, those are the ones that wind end up getting sited in the communities with the least ability to say no."
Operating on the promise of bringing jobs to the community, what these industries do not say, is that often, these jobs are low-paying, dangerous and pose great health risks.
The academy boasts an intense how-to program on creating and maintaining a sustainable, democratic and environmentally friendly cooperative business. Some graduates of the Green Worker Cooperative Academy have gone on to become successful businesses: a translation company Caracol Interpreters Cooperative, and B-Blossom Catering Cooperative. Other, more recent alumni, include Ginger Moon, a 'food-doula' service that helps provide nourishing meals and support for new mothers, a student credit union, and POP, a women's health and culture magazine.