ENABLING CITIZENS COMES NEXT

ENABLING CITIZENS COMES NEXT

Do you know how hard it is to lead?
You’re on your own
Awesome…wow
Do you have a clue what happens now?
Oceans rise
Empires fall
It’s much harder when it’s all your call
“What Comes Next” from Hamilton as performed by King George

I finally saw Hamilton this month and couldn’t help but reflect on our current politics in light of our country’s founding politics. I also was interviewed this month for a book on redlining that sent me back to the ‘70s going thru my file of the national newsletter, DISCLOSURE, which I edited for Gale Cincotta starting in July 1974 thru July 1984.

Government has always required challenging by its citizens. In fact, you can say that’s our job description as citizens. A robust media is essential for enabling citizens to exercise their rights.

Disclosure remains our right to know today as it was as a national demand in 1975 for Congress to pass the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act [HMDA]. As we all start preparing to file our 2016 tax returns, what’s the betting pool on whether the President ever discloses his?

disclosure-oct-1976I still wonder why the US Senate couldn’t have waited a week to see what Scott Pruitt’s emails to the fossil fuel industry disclosed before confirming him as the USEPA chief. Maybe they were afraid for us to know before putting him in charge of policing industries that helped his career.

I’m not even going to speculate on the spy novels and Putin films being written in the absence of full disclosure of what Michael Flynn was up to before he resigned as national security adviser. Congress used to insist on their own right to know as our elected representatives. It should be interesting mid-term elections in 2018 if members of Congress don’t get over their self-imposed “don’t ask the emperor about his clothes.”

Then there is the forthcoming effort to repeal protecting consumers as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is under siege. 2017 marks 40 years since Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to ensure fair and responsive investment. Yet, redlining is alive and will become rampant again if the Trump Administration and Congress collude to deregulate financial services. Our country won’t be great again; it will be broke again by Wall Street greed.

ncrc-2017-conferenceThat’s why I’m looking forward to convening with other community development colleagues in DC at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition [NCRC] 2017 Annual Conference, Creating a Just Economy, starting on Tuesday March 28 thru Thursday March 30, 2017. It may be “last call” to hear from responsive bank regulators such as keynote speakers: Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve; Thomas Curry, Comptroller of the Currency; and Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It’s not clear who President Trump would nominate to these crucial positions; perhaps the highest bidder?

The effectiveness of CRA has always been subject to vigorous enforcement by its regulators. Not sure those 77,000 voters across three states fully understood that investments in their communities’ futures were at risk in a Trump administration.

Hope your Presidents Day was “HUGE.” The next three may be “TITANIC.”

STILL SQUANDERING AMERICA

“Until our political leaders put the safety of the economy ahead of narrow financial interests, we will remain at severe systemic risk.” — Robert Kuttner, The Squandering of America

I started blogging in the summer of 2008 for SHELTERFORCE’s ROOFLINES. Seven years ago this month on August 25, 2008, I posted Investing in Communities Key to Obamanomics. The above quote from Bob Kuttner, staff in 1975 for U.S Senator William Proxmire, was certainly relevant then for the economic crisis unfolding in 2008. Unfortunately, it’s still pertinent for the Presidential debates to come over the 14 months ahead.

Back then, I quoted an August 25, 2008 Chicago Tribune column by John McCarron, which opened by noting: “Our neighborhoods are filling up with foreclosed houses — the result of deregulated brokers and bankers gone wild.” I joined him in asking Barack and his handlers: ‘Where’s the outrage?’ I ended my blog by imploring: “It’s time for Obama to demand a stop to the squandering of American communities and for a market that invests in them.”

John McCarron’s Chicago Tribune column last month on July 27, 2015 states that: “More than a quarter-million mortgage foreclosures have been filed in Cook County since 2008.” Seven years later, McCarron observes our state and city officials still can’t figure out how to employ community residents in rebuilding their own neighborhoods by rehabbing vacant homes at affordable prices.

Yet, the Obama administration’s signature effort to assist homeowners, “advertised in 2009 as a lifeline for as many as four million troubled borrowers,” is categorized as “Slack Lifeline for Drowning Homeowners” in Gretchen Morgenson’s Fair Game column in the August 2, 2015 New York Times. She cites a recent report on the Home Affordable Modification Program [HAMP] that just 887,001 borrowers have been able to receive a modification. “Banks participating in the program have rejected 72% of the applications since the process began.” Morgenson opines: “It appears that the program has allowed big banks to run roughshod over borrowers again and again.”

What are the future prospects for community lending? In a July 26, 2015 Chicago Tribune article, “Two-Tier System Reshaping Lending,” E. Scott Reckard reports: “Even as the housing and mortgage markets are stabilizing, many borrowers with good credit remain shut out of the home loan market or saddled with a new array of fees and extra costs.” John Taylor, CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition [NCRC], is quoted that for lower-income borrowers, lenders are “pulling up the gangplank.”

Returning to those redlining days of the early ‘70s, lenders are again routing borrowers with minor credit issues and down payments of less than 20% to higher-cost Federal Housing Administration [FHA] mortgages. This time it’s not just race but class that is causing disparate impact. It’s not just past wealth that has been stripped from our communities over these past seven years; but any hope of building new wealth in rebuilding these same communities plagued by vacant homes. With an ineffective HAMP, wealth inequality is and will continue to hamper America’s economic growth.

I’m certainly not expecting the “Donald” to address wealth inequality. But these past seven years certainly document the need for a political leader “who puts the safety of the economy ahead of narrow financial interests” and stops the squandering of American communities and starts investing in them.

This week’s addition to the U2Cando playlist (with just two tweaks in lyrics) comes from 1997 as President Bill Clinton was starting his second term:

Winter 2007

Winter 2007

It’s Christmas time in Washington
The Democrats rehearsed
Gettin’ into gear for four more years
Things not gettin’ worse

The Republicans drink whiskey neat
And thanked their lucky stars
They said, “He cannot seek another term
They’ll be no more FDR’s”

There’s foxes in the hen house
Cows out in the corn
The unions have been busted
Their proud red banners torn

To listen to the radio
You’d think that all was well
But you and me and Gale Cincotta know
It’s going straight to hell

Come back to us, Bobby Kennedy
And Martin Luther King
We’re marching into Selma
As the bells of freedom ring

So come back Woody Guthrie
Come back to us now
Tear your eyes from paradise
And rise again somehow

Christmas in Washington
by Steve Earle

JUST EAT IT!

JUST EAT IT!

“40% of food produced in the US is wasted.”
— Natural Resources Defense Council

“Just Eat It” a 74-minute award-winning documentary about the staggering amounts of food that go to waste in households and farm fields, was selected as the One Earth Film Festival’s first Festival Choice winner and screened again as such for the City of Chicago’s 2015 Earth Day Celebration on April 22. Its US broadcast premier was on MSNBC that night as well, after being featured on several MSNBC talk shows earlier that day and week.

JustEatIt-flier-8.5x11-v3The film, produced by Peg Leg Films in partnership with British Columbia’s Knowledge Network, follows producer Jenny Rustemeyer and director Grant Baldwin as they successfully live for six months only off rescued food, which they estimate to have been worth in excess of $20,000. After worry about whether they could do it, they started to give it away themselves.

The visuals to their story document the mind blowing stats. 50% of food waste is from our own homes. 20 pounds of food per person per month is thrown away. 97% of food waste goes to landfills. We are wasting energy and water growing food of which we will waste 40%.

The challenge is to change our cultural attitude so that it is no longer right to waste food; just as it is not right to litter. Expiration dates need to be revised to address safety, not just freshness. It’s ok to buy ugly bananas that aren’t perfectly curved. Value food and clean your plate like your mother told you. Perhaps, we need to bring back the posters from World War II proclaiming: Don’t Waste It!

The Institute of Cultural Affairs in the USA was a co-sponsor of the 2015 One Earth Film Festival, which screened 40 films at 31 locations around the Chicagoland region, including ICA’s GreenRise Learning Lab. Earth Day Film PanelA distinctive characteristic of the festival was the post-film programming that offered audiences an opportunity to engage with experts and environmental leaders. Chicago’s Earth Day post-film panel discussion with local experts was moderated by ICA’s senior program director Seva Gandhi.

“Just Eat It” was one of three audience favorites in the online balloting during the festival. The other two top vote getters were “Cowspiracy” and “Edible City.” A five-person jury then screened all three, reaching the decision that “Just Eat It” best merited a citywide screening.

Ana Garcia Doyle, founder and director of the One Earth Film Festival and a jury member, observes:

“Food waste has gotten lots of attention lately — from editorials in The New York Times to restaurants, school districts and municipalities taking steps to divert food from landfills that contribute to greenhouse gases. With ‘Just Eat It,’ you get a universally relatable story that addresses salient issues such as agriculture, composting, water use and climate change. It also has humor and human-powered solutions.”

I’ve blogged in the past about the Quad Cities Food Hub and their efforts to aggregate healthy food from small farmers to distribute to food deserts. I’ve blogged about the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s extensive efforts to feed the hungry. Today’s blog is one where “you too can do” something today: Don’t waste your food; Just Eat It!

Also track down or book a screening of this film and invite your friends.

This week’s U2Cando lyrics are Weird Al Yankovic’s rewrite of a Michael Jackson classic:

Rejected BananasHave a banana, have a whole bunch
It doesn’t matter what you had for lunch
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it

Eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
If it’s gettin’ cold, reheat it
Have a big dinner, have a light snack
If you don’t like it, you can’t send it back
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it

PURSUING A SOLIDARITY ECONOMY

PURSUING A SOLIDARITY ECONOMY

The planning system enables developers and landowners to make large profits while the public sector struggles with infrastructure costs and making homes affordable. Any new house building policy should keep control over land and retain its value for the public good. — Steve Bendle and Pat Conaty, In Trust, published in Fabian Review [Summer 2014] posted on PRAXIS [February 2015]

I first met Pat Conaty in the Spring of 1991 at a community development conference in Swansea, Wales. Currently, he is a Research Associate for Co-operatives UK and the Executive Director of the Rebuilding Society Network. He was previously a Research Fellow at the New Economics Foundation, when I had the opportunity in the mid-90s to visit him in Birmingham, England.

Pat has always offered thought-provoking strategies on how we could and should expand our strategies such as pursuing a “Solidarity Economy” based on the shared “values of social justice, inclusiveness, ecological sustainability and deeper, democratic forms of participation.” On April 9, 2013, SHELTERFORCE posted my book review, Getting Beyond Growth at Any Price, on a book Pat co-authored with Michael Lewis in 2012: The Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy.Resilience Book Cover

Lewis and Conaty challenge each of us to use “Social, Ecological, Economic” lenses to “SEE” change and to fulfill the imperative of seeking strategic pathways by sharing what we are learning in order to secure the innovations that are getting results by scaling up and broadening their applications. They call for “cooperative transitions to a steady-state economy.” As I noted in my review, “We can no longer afford growth at any price.”

The fundamental question that The Resilience Imperative poses is one that the authors credit to ecological economist, Hazel Henderson: Growth for whom and for what? This question has been asked consistently throughout the history of community development in the United States. Given the prevailing aftermath of our global economic crisis and the ignoring of climate change, the authors convinced me it’s resilience that is essential for our future.

Throughout Pat’s work on a range of critical issues, he addresses the contradiction we face around the globe: “What is missing is leadership to bring diverse networks together, forge intensive cooperative links, mobilize a social/ecological justice vision, and develop creative ways to deliver knowledge capital through dynamic services that make money our servant and no longer our master.”

In March, Pat was invited by the Seoul Institute of Social and Economic Support to share lessons learned about Community Land Trusts [CLTs] and their applicability to the future of South Korea. Pat shared with me:

Pat Conaty [center] at  the Seoul Institute of Social and Economic Support

Pat Conaty [3rd from right] at the Seoul Institute of Social and Economic Support

“There is a new cultural perspective underlying this approach that we were talking about in Seoul. The South Koreans are thinking this way about how social solidarity in the civil society sector can be made stronger. It is a different approach to Community Economic Development I think but joining both up could be catalytic.”

Pat has found that land reform is a taboo subject because “developers fear it, there is cronyism as you know that guards against it but also non-profit housing organisations do not know how to do CLTs so they also block the introduction.”

In Wales, where Pat has lived the past nine years, he has successfully forged a partnership between the Welsh government, co-op housing activists and non-profit housing developers to run a national demonstration project on CLTs and other forms of democratic housing including co-op rental, co-op shared equity, community self-build and co-housing. “The civil servants and the professionals in the non-profit housing world are finding that this housing is so popular in the first few areas of Wales,” Pat notes “that they are being converted to a new social gospel.”

Earlier this month, Pat was in Baltimore for the Edge Funders conference and participated in a workshop with Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation, who I have previously blogged about. Also participating was David Bollier, who co-authored with Pat, The Promise of Co-ops Connecting with the Commons. This report was posted February 10, 2015 by On the Commons. It explores a new synergy between the emerging peer production and commons movement on the one hand, and growing, innovative elements of the co-operative and solidarity economy movements on the other.

Another report of Pat’s that I find especially interesting is: Sharing Prosperity Enabling Co-Operative Enterprises to Grow the Green Economy. Published in November 2013 and commissioned by the Co-operative Cymru/Wales, it considers opportunities to assist community environmental organisations to expand their provision through the use of co-operative methods. This report was approved by the democratic structures of The Co-operative Cymru/Wales, provided eight case studies, and offered eleven recommendations for the Welsh Co-operative and Mutual Commission to consider in the preparation of their strategic report to the Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science.

Pat’s current work on deploying a social co-op model to delivering health care is especially timely as non-profit hospitals in the US are now being required to perform community health needs assessments every three years. Pat is assisting in the creation of a new hub to advance social care co-ops in England and Wales, as a response to the growing health care crisis there. The hub’s webpage includes a video interview with Pat on “what is a social care co-op?”

Pat ConatyPat offers this closing reflection:

“I am pushing this message to non-profit educational, social care and environmental organisations that social co-operative inclusive ownership and governance systems are good for everybody including themselves. This way professionals can learn to co-construct the future in participative democracy ways. Wherever I give this talk professionals listen. I keep saying that social co-operatives are an upgrade and by piloting and experimenting we can all build a deeply democratic road as we travel.”

My U2Cando blogs represent my personal opinions not those of the Institute of Cultural Affairs-USA. However, I think this week’s blog, PURSUING A SOLIDARITY ECONOMY, highlighting Pat Conaty’s extensive insights is extremely relevant to ICA-USA’s mission “to build a just and equitable society in harmony with Planet Earth.”

When I hear the word “resilience,” I also associate the word “persistence” required to achieve it. Pat Conaty certainly has been persistent in his messaging and his encouragement to explore cooperative strategies to rebuild society and address our global challenges. This week’s U2Cando lyrics are dedicated to his continued endeavors.

No, I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down

(I won’t back down)
Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey, I will stand my ground and I won’t back down

Well, I know what’s right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, I Won’t Back Down

AN INCONVENIENT GREED (AIG)

I used this title six years ago when I posted a blog for SHELTERFORCE’s ROOFLINES on March 22, 2009. It was in response to The Chicago Sun-Times’ March 20, 2009 Acronym Test, “What Should AIG Really Stand For?” My answer, stealing Al Gore’s playbook, was the title of that and this blog posting. It merits revisiting. I noted then:

The media and Congress have become inconveniently (or perhaps too conveniently) distracted from the root causes of our economic crisis — “too much speculation with borrowed money; too little transparency and disclosure; and too many insider conflicts of interest.”

I identified those three self-feeding abuses from Robert Kuttner’s book, Obama’s Challenge, as what must be remedied if we were to rebuild a secure financial market. When Kuttner gave his keynote address six years ago at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s annual conference on March 13, 2009, those of us in the audience could not have imagined the headlines about American International Group (AIG) that would unfold in the days ahead.

The New York Times published an article on March 15, 2009, by Edmund L. Andrews and Peter Baker, headlined: Bonus Money at Troubled A.I.G. Draws Heavy Criticism. The opening paragraph captured the rampant greed:

Obama administration officials and Republicans alike were nearly universal in condemning the $165 million in bonuses that the American International Group, which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, is to pay executives in the business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year.

The solution then, and unfortunately not yet resolved, is about regulating speculation gone wild and about investing in and for communities. To use the title of another Kuttner book, it’s about stopping The Squandering of America.

My career in community development started over 40 years ago with Gale Cincotta in a Catholic school hall at St. Sylvester’s. A keynote speech that spring afternoon in 1974 was given by journalist Brian Boyer, who had just authored, Cities Destroyed for Cash. Brian had documented how the federal government itself had become the predatory lender that fueled redlining and the withdrawal of private capital from America’s communities.

It bears remembering that those scandals and resulting fast-foreclosures sparked the national demand for full disclosure that led to Congress passing the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) in the ‘70s, under the leadership of Senate Banking Committee Chairman William Proxmire and his committee’s chief investigator, Bob Kuttner.

Today our communities are still hemorrhaging from an economy destroyed by greed. As Kuttner noted in his analysis of speculation that today still remains unregulated, “[r]e-regulating capitalism on a global scale is a systemic challenge on a par with solving global warming. And the two challenges are directly connected.”

As Naomi Klein has most recently reminded us, “Real solutions to the climate crisis are also our best hope of building a much more stable and equitable economic system.” West Humboldt Park

This week the Federal Reserve announced that it was no longer going to be “patient” about raising interest rates. Yet Fed Chair Janet Yellen seemed to remain concerned about timing when she was quoted, “Just because we removed the word ‘patient’ from the statement doesn’t mean we’re going to be impatient.”

As the Fed schedules that inevitable rise in interest rates later this year, they should consider a Community Credit Policy to assure lower interest rates for loans targeted to owner-occupied homes and multi-family properties providing affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families. Reserve requirements could be lowered for financial institutions making “reinvestment loans.” They could be allowed to borrow from the Fed at special low rates and long terms provided that the full amount of these funds were used for “reinvestment loans.”

The unemployment numbers may be improved but there are still many left out of the job market. Our communities are becoming increasingly impatient for their “recovery.” That’s an inconvenient truth we must still resolve six years later.

I did a Google search to find a song related to greed for this week’s playlist addition. I assume Bill is the regulator that is failing to regulate Joe’s speculation and Hank’s bank.

Now, I gave money to Joe,
Cause Bill said he knows,
He’ll pay me back in time,
And Bill’s getting paid to know,
If anyone’s lying.
Now, Bill said give it to Hank,
Cause Hank owns a bank,
And he can make it grow,
Now, ain’t those amazing folks,
That Bill is lucky to know?

Money, The Lovin’ Spoonful
Lyrics by John Sebastian

SOME POWER HOSTILE

“The banks of this country are remote from the people and the people regard them as not belonging to them but as belonging to some power hostile to them.”

Good guess, but that is not a quote from US Senator Elizabeth Warren; but it could be. It is from a 1908 keynote address to the American Bankers Association by Woodrow Wilson.

With the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s annual conference only 10 days away {not too late to register}, I went into the DISCLOSURE archives to April 1977 before the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was passed. Thanks to the Adrian Dominican Sisters and the Dominicans’ Province of St. Albert the Great, a resolution was introduced for that year’s shareholders meeting of First National Bank of Chicago. I was raised by Dominicans in more ways than one.

The resolution would have required the bank to allocate home mortgage loans proportionately in terms of deposits it obtains from Chicago neighborhoods. To no surprise, it was roundly defeated but I did get my first taste of corporate arrogance thanks to Robert Abboud, the bank’s chairman at the time.

It was a stark contrast to A.P. Giannini, who founded Bank of America in 1904 because he was indignant at the neglect of San Francisco’s Italian neighborhood by other banks. He had his desk in the open on the first floor where everyone entering could see him. “That’s one trouble with bankers,” he is quoted in Biography of a Bank, “They shut themselves off away from people and don’t know what is going on.”

Seven years later, the most impressive agreement in the short five-year history of CRA was announced on March 6, 1984 when First National Bank announced that it had allocated $100 million over five years, for loans at below market rates to revitalize and redevelop Chicago neighborhoods. What a difference the federal Community Reinvestment Act had made. This Neighborhood Lending Program with new loan products was designed over two months through productive negotiations, community tours and discussions between bankers and community leaders. First Chgo NLP March 1984

The new bank chairman, Barry Sullivan stated at the joint press conference, “The community groups have been instrumental in helping to analyze the needs of our city and developing a program that will address the credit needs of our Chicago neighborhoods.” Dialogue had soothed the hostility.

A formal CRA challenge never had to be filed, and only a request to the Federal Reserve Board for an extension of the public comment period was necessary to provide the time to reach agreement on the program. Many lessons were learned over 30 years ago that remain relevant today.

Bottom line for rebuilding our communities now? Bankers need to heed A.P. Giannini and be engaged with their communities to know what is going on. Regulators need to assure that they do. Community leaders need to lead the way.

This week’s addition to the U2Cando playlist has been made famous by Mavis Staples:

Oh, mmm, I know a place
Ain’t nobody cryin’, ain’t nobody worried
Ain’t no smilin’ faces, mmm, no no
Lyin’ to the races, help me, come on, come on
Somebody, help me now
(I’ll take you there)

Just take me by the hand let me
(I’ll take you there)
Let me, let me, let me lead the way
(I’ll take you there)
Let me take you there
(I’ll take you there)

The Staple Singers, I’ll Take You There

I C A BETTER WORLD

On my first Saturday (2/28/15) of transition as the new CEO of the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA)-USA, I had the opportunity to meet Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation.

Michel Bauwens (L) & Ted Wysocki (R)

Michel Bauwens (L) & Ted Wysocki (R)

Michel is the global authority on peer-to-peer, social production and the new economic and social forms that are emerging around information and communication technologies. The P2P Foundation is an international organization focused on studying, researching, documenting and promoting peer to peer practices.

One of the great perks of my new job is the breadth of programming offered at ICA-USA’s headquarters, GreenRise Uptown Learning Laboratory. Michel was the invited “Keynote Listener” for Cooperation 2015: Connecting as Peers & Networks. This highly participatory “unconference” promoted:

Paradigm shifts in technology, economics, politics, local organizing, global movements and even spirituality pervade today’s world. Moving to a society that is peer-to-peer, where people can directly help one another, is the real “sharing economy.”

Michel Bauwens, born in Belgium, received his Master Degree (Licentiate) in Political Relations / International Relations from the Free University of Brussels in 1981. Most recently, in 2014, Michel was research director of the research group, which produced the first integrated Commons Transition Plan for the government of Ecuador. He currently lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where has taught at Payap University and Dhurakij Pandit University’s International College, as well as IBICT, Rio de Janeiro.

“Very rarely in history does a new mode of production to create value become prevalent,” Michel observed. “There is now an unprecedented capacity to scale up commons peer production.” Several of the practices, Michel shared from his international work, included:
• Open Value Accounting – acknowledging the value of contributions through peer review;
• Chamber of the Commons – promotion of services to be shared as a chamber of commerce does for small businesses;
• Assembly of the Commons – local community-driven planning for improvements; and
• Commons Festival – fairs to celebrate and encourage sharing as a market place.

Bauwens & LinaMichel recommended Marjorie Kelly’s Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution Journeys to a Generative Economy. Michel contrasted such “generative” capital for the common good to the “extractive” practice of platforms such as Facebook which does not share its monetary value with its participants that create its content. The value of peer production for the commons is also creating community.

In closing the conference, Michel highlighted the growing emergence of solidarity co-ops for social care, citing initiatives in Quebec and Northern Italy, which are governed by multi-stakeholders. When they reach a certain scale, they go “viral” and launch another one to assure local responsiveness.

I didn’t get a chance to ask Michel for his favorite song lyrics related to building a new economy commons. But he reminded me of a 2001 panel that I participated on for the Asset-Based Community Development Institute. I referred to facilitators then and it’s relevant to “keynote listeners” today as “cleaning windows” so people can clearly see alternatives for a better world.

Thanks to Michel and the organizers of Cooperation 2015 for bringing him to Chicago to share with us.

What’s my line?
I’m happy cleaning windows
Take my time
I’ll see you when my love grows
Baby don’t let it slide
I’m a working man in my prime
Cleaning windows…
Van Morrison, Cleaning Windows