CooperAcción: A Curriculum on Co-ops

By Ambereen Siddiqui, October 30, 2019. What comes to mind when you hear the word “economy”?

I cycle between corruption, exploitation, and can we actually eat the rich? However, last week at CooperAcción Santa Ana, a cooperative business development program, we learned that the origin of the word economy is Greek and that, historically, it breaks down to οίκος – “household” and νέμoμαι – “manage”. Economy is the management of the home.

The United States hasn’t been doing a great job at that (which is a big understatement).  This home was stolen from the Indigenous peoples of this land, and this society has been “managing” it through values of white supremacy and profit. Our economy has been suffering because our home is built on a racist and unjust foundation. We must engage in a Just Transition in order for our communities to survive both the everyday and massive disasters climate change will bring (and has already brought). A Just Transition necessitates less focus on consumerism and economic growth and instead an emphasis on sustainability and an equitable redistribution of resources, so that when disasters strike our communities, we are all resilient enough to adapt and recover.

As a UCI Community Resilience Projects Fellow, I’ve been so fortunate in being able to attend and assist the workshops that CooperAcción Santa Ana hosts in our neighboring city. We are halfway through our 12 sessions. In the last two months, Ana Siria Urzua and Abel Ruiz have cultivated the values and business ideas of the 31 participants and have worked hard to make them reality. Early in the class, I learned that cooperatives are integral to a Just Transition. The shift from an exploitative economy that relies on coercion and militarism to take advantage of impoverished people of color to an economy that centers cooperation, environmental justice, and democratic governance is a radical revolution – one that empowers social and ecological regeneration. In sum, cooperatives make for better management of the home. They encourage a home where we can all feel comfortable, respected, and rested; they enable mutually beneficial relationships so we can all thrive.





CooperAccion Santa Ana

Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project, From Banks and Tanks to Cooperation and Caring: A Just Transition Zine