R|A just had its fourth full year of operation and overall we feel it was successful. Of course 2020 was the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we acknowledge the disruption to all of our lives. One consequence is that we were unable to meet for our two customary in-person retreats. We really missed being together.
We had three major projects this year, so let’s review. One was the continuation of a project that started last year working with a cooperative legal group on evaluating a number of their programs. This multi-year project will last through 2021.
We also continued on a project with the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative’s Economic Democracy Learning Center, which is creating a curriculum and approach to nurturing cooperative values in schools and youth groups. The community-based nonprofit sees education at all levels as an essential part of the movement to build an equitable, sustainable, and democratic local economy that creates wealth and ownership for low-income people of color.
We are also working with the Central Brooklyn Food Democracy Project, which seeks to create good jobs and access to healthy food for Central Brooklyn residents through a consumer owned, Black-led cooperative grocery store and worker owned food enterprises. Research|Action is serving as project evaluators and contributing collaboratively developed research that creates opportunities for organizational learning.
At the end of the year, as always, after accounting for all income and expenses, we democratically discussed what to do with our surplus. We’ll retain some of it for expected expenses next year, and the rest will be paid out to the members. This will include an extra payment to one of our members to assist with their health care costs. This reflects our values of democratic decision making, equity and “to each according to their need.”
Please see our Projects page for more information about our work. If anyone wants to discuss a potential project, please let us know. Moreover, we always want to help others think about forming their own research collectives, and we’re happy to discuss how we started and run ours, so let us know if you want to talk. We’ll see you all in 2021!