|Calculating the Value of the Commons: Generating Resilient Urban Futures
In this paper we present a method for valuing the multidimensional aspects of urban commons. This method draws from and contributes to a broader conception of social or community returns on investment, using the case and data of a vibrant project, strategy, and model of ecological resilience, R-Urban, on the outskirts of Paris. R-Urban is based on networks of urban commons and collective hubs supporting civic resilience practices. We use data from 2015, the year before one of the hubs was evicted from its site by a municipal administration that could not see the value of an ‘urban farm’ compared to a parking lot. We combine estimates of the direct revenues generated for a host of activities that took place in R-Urban, including an urban farm, community recycling centre, a greenhouse, community kitchen, compost school, café, a teaching space, and a mini-market. We then estimate the market value of volunteer labour put into running the sites, in addition to the value of training and education conducted through formal and informal channels, and the new jobs and earnings that were generated due to R-Urban activity. Finally, we estimate the monetary value of the savings made by an environmentally conscious design that focused on water recycling, soil and biodiversity improvement, and social and health benefits, breaking them down by savings to the organization, participants and households involved in R-Urban itself, as well as savings to the state and the planet. Although our paper is built on specific quantities from a concrete project, the method has wide applicability to urban commons of many types seeking to demonstrate the worth and value of all their many facets and activities.
This paper is freely accessible on the journal webpage.
|The place of common bond: Can credit unions make place for solidarity economy?
About 6,000 financial cooperatives, called credit unions, with more than 103 million members manage over $1 trillion in collective assets in the United States but are largely invisible and seen as inferior to private banks. In contrast to banks that generate profit for outside investors and do not give voice to customers, these not-for-profit institutions have a democratic governance structure and a mission to provide good services to their members. We use diverse economies and critical/feminist GIS approaches to theorize them as noncapitalist alternatives to banks and possible sites of social transformation toward a solidarity economy.
Using the case of cooperative finance in New York City, we analyze spatial patterns, characteristics, and place-making practices of credit unions with different kinds of the common bond, a principle that unites a financial community, and in relation to urban geographies of class and race. We find that credit unions provide a historically proven mechanism for collective resistance to marginalization by racial capitalism and, depending on the common bond type, make place by (1) providing financial inclusion in poor and minority neighborhoods; (2) scaling up solidarity finance through participation of middle classes; and (3) diverting assets from capitalist investment into social reproduction and livelihoods. Credit unions express the racialized wealth of their communities, however, and create spatial exclusions that pose a challenge to postcapitalist movements such as solidarity economy. These findings are applicable to other places marked by segregation and call for further inquiry into possibilities and barriers to solidarity finance.
|Commoning and the Politics of Solidarity: Transformational Responses to Poverty
This paper stages an encounter between Relational Poverty Theory (RPT) and the solidarity economy movement. RPT understands poverty as the dynamic product of economic exploitation, political exclusion and cultural marginalization. The solidarity economy movement can be seen as a transformative political response to these dynamics aiming to replace exploitation with cooperation, exclusion with participation and marginalisation with practices of inclusion. Globally, more than sixty solidarity economy movements are coordinating efforts, developing associative relations between cooperative economic institutions, social justice movements, and one another. While these developments are encouraging, many practitioners are concerned about the movement’s future. Solidarity economy practitioners we encountered in our US-based research were concerned with the movement’s vulnerability to co-optive exploitation or (un)witting perpetuation of the very dynamics of exclusion and marginalisation it seeks to transcend. We take this as evidence of the enduring power of poverty-dynamics and testament to the incisive, critical insights of RPT. However, what remains unanswered is how the solidarity economy might succeed in its own terms? We deploy Gibson-Graham’s theorization of postcapitalist politics to answer this question, charting the movement’s possibilities, specifically how it works by creating and sharing spaces and monetary and non-monetary resources in pursuit of its objectives
|The Economics of Occupation
This article examines the economy of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and traces its connections to both historic and contemporary factory and farm occupations.
|The Global Household: Toward a Feminist Postcapitalist International Political Economy
The goal of this article is to introduce a new category into international political economy-the global household-and to begin to widen the focus of international political economy to include nonmarket transactions and noncapitalist production. We estimate the aggregate population of global households, the size and distribution of remittances, and the magnitude and sectoral scope of global household production. We briefly explore the possibilities for research and activism opened up by a feminist, postcapitalist international political economy centered on the global household.