Last year was our first year of operation for R|A and a busy one. After our retreat in February, we went through the process of incorporating in NY as an LLC, which took several months. We officially launched in June and had another mid-year retreat in July. We also continued to update our operating agreement and other administrative documents and procedures. We want to run our research collective as a democratic, member-owned cooperative, and we currently have four members working about 3-15 hours a week on this, so it’s a very part time initiative.
The goals for our cooperative are to work on a mixture of interesting projects, paid and pro bono, that assist social justice organizations, the labor movement and the overall solidarity economy. We are also all interested in cooperative formation as a key left strategy, and there’s no better way to learn than to start your own!
We worked on seven projects last year. You can see our Projects page for the finished projects that have or will result in a report or published product. By far the largest and most ambitious was researching and producing a report in cooperation with the Housing Justice League in Atlanta called Beltlining. This deals with gentrification and the displacement of low-income black residents due to the development of the BeltLine.
Also in Atlanta, we are working on a long term project to assess the benefits of the city’s pilot pre-arrest diversion program for minor offenders. This is part of an effort to create progressive alternatives to the punitive mass incarceration system. Related to this, we helped analyze data on arrests for low-level charges such as marijuana possession, as part of a successful effort to decriminalize marijuana usage in the city.
We worked with the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives and the CUNY Murphy Institute in New York City to put together a brochure to educate the labor movement about the growing number of Union Cooperatives. We also have an article about this movement.
Also in the cooperative space, we worked with the Cooperative Development Institute and the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City to research coops and solidarity economy entities in upstate NY, for inclusion in an online database, and to assist further research on the solidarity economy. We hope that this new database will be up and running soon and we’ll be sure to post about it. We have more information about the solidarity economy in this article.
We conducted a strategic corporate research training for groups in the Appalachian region that are undertaking a long term research project to study corporate land ownership throughout the region. More information about their project is here.
And finally, we worked with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee to survey over a hundred inmates around the country about food and health care quality issues. We hope to have a report on this research very soon.
As we plan for 2018, we want to continue to work on exciting projects and develop relationships with great ally groups. We have even been talking about generating a research project of our own. If you have any ideas or projects you’d like to discuss, give us a call!
Abby, Biko, Eric and Kate