The Economic Democracy Training Series: Building Leadership for the Next Economy

Affiliated Organization: 
MIT Community Innovators Lab, Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative

The Economic Democracy Training Series is a joint project between the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative and the MIT Community Innovators Lab. This 10-session, 20-hour series of workshops will introduce community members, residents, youth, and community leaders to major concepts in economic development, political economy, and, most importantly, economic democracy. The training series was originally developed as a tool for leaders in the Bronx to use for the purposes of galvanizing their communities to take a hands-on, democratic approach to local community economic development that would pave the way for all residents, not just those who currently control a majority of the resources, to thrive. This curriculum is not neutral. The role that oppression has played in the current state of our political economy is palpable for communities of color, women, queer folks, working class people, and all those whose identities have historically made them the victims of interpersonal, institutional, internalized, and ideological oppression and injustice. The examples and cases we highlight will explore some of the connections and embedded natures between these forms of oppression and economic oppression. However, we expect that community groups who use this curriculum to bring a racial, economic, queer, ecological, etc. lens to the workshops and incorporate the information we explore here into their analyses. This political education curriculum draws upon popular education tools and methodologies to explore topics that may seem unfamiliar to participants but are often unnamed or unacknowledged forces in their lives. The hope is that the sessions are learning experiences for all – with the facilitator taking on the responsibility of reading the reference materials and familiarizing themselves with the content to bring the information to their community for collective theorizing and problem-solving. We build on the work of numerous groups and people who have created wonderful materials – images, workshops, and essays – that help explain concepts in economic theory, capitalism, the economy, and a variety of other topics. The movement towards Economic Democracy – a system of governance that puts capital and resources under democratic control and ownership – cannot happen without the people most impacted by the current economic paradigm. The Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative’s Economic Democracy Training Series is our first attempt to galvanize, amplify, and listen to those voices.

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