As discussed by the organizers, the Summit is "the first ever gathering of organizers dedicated to building a movement to create a new and more humane economy—a solidarity economy—in the District of Columbia." Those involved in the summit are part of "a movement afoot to unite groups working for economic justice, and to benefit the low and moderate income residents left out of DC's luxury-inspired development."
The wonderful Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo has written about Barry's cooperative legacy ("Marion Barry: DC's Co-op Mayor"), which uses parts of, and goes far beyond, a paper I wrote about DC's long cooperative history. Here is what she said:
Marion Barry: DC's Co-op Mayor
by Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo
Soon after he started his first mayoral term in 1979, Barry remarked at a February 1980 conference:
In Washington, as in every other major urban center in America, we have entire sections of our city which have been abandoned and neglected by the mainstream of economic activity…Although private enterprise has neglected or abandoned some areas of our city, we must not give up the fight. It is time for the citizens of these areas themselves to become owners and providers of the basic services needed for daily life. The cooperative movement is just what is needed to provide this opportunity.The Poor People’s Development Foundation reported at the time that Barry “has indicated that he will use his good offices to establish Washington, D.C. as [a] ‘demonstration’ city for cooperative development.”
Early into his term, Barry established an "Energy Office" whose job was to help residents set up energy cooperatives, especially around heating oil, according to Johanna Bockman, cooperative scholar at George Mason University. The Energy Office also supported food cooperatives around urban gardening.
A year later, on June 13, 1980 Barry issued a Mayor's Order establishing a Commission for Cooperative Economic Development. The Co-op Commission’s first head, a national advocate for cooperatives by the name of Cornelius “Cornbread” Givens, said the group was “the very first commission of this kind anywhere in the nation”... To read further, click here.
Join the exciting discussions at the DC Solidarity Economy Summit this Saturday 3-7pm (Impact HUB DC, 419 7th St., NW, Second Floor). Everyone is invited, and tickets are free (through Eventbrite or by contacting Allison Basile, 443-562-5856).
For a list of the huge number of cooperatives in DC, visit Coop DC's Coop Directory.