Mission & Organizational Statement for the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network

Drafted by the SEN Coordinating Committee, August 2007. Please note that this is a working document and is open for discussion, debate and change.

Revised August 12, 2009

Mission of USSEN

The mission of the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network is to connect a diverse array of individuals, organizations, businesses and projects in the shared work of building and strengthening regional, national and international movements for a solidarity economy. Through publications, a website, mailing list, and face-to-face gatherings, the network will facilitate: ongoing communication and dialog relating to the development of solidarity economy ideas, values and practices; the sharing of experiences, models and skills; and the creation of collaborative, movement-building projects between network members.

Specific Objectives for USSEN

  • Global movement. To join with and build the movement for transformative social and economic justice. To develop strong relationships and exchange between U.S. and global organizations, practitioners and solidarity economy networks such as RIPESS (Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Solidarity Economy).
  • Common vision and framework. To create a structure and vision that can promote a common identity and agenda among the currently fragmented elements of the U.S. solidarity economy. SEN will build a learning community on issues relevant to the solidarity economy, including discussing and debating strategies and practices, and helping each other to uphold the principles of the solidarity economy
  • Collaboration. To investigate and develop ways to build collaborative support systems for solidarity economy development. Examples might include: coordination between solidarity economy producers, suppliers and distributors; collaborative marketing, branding and distribution; group purchasing of insurance, energy, supplies; peer support & tech. assistance.
  • Visibility and public support. To raise the visibility, legitimacy and public support for solidarity economy practices through public education and media coverage. Examples might include: development of accessible educational materials and workshops for different sectors; SEN speakers ‘bureau;’ the development/implementation of a media strategy to “mainstream” the solidarity economy into public consciousness; dissemination of research among social movements and opinion-makers.
  • Public policy and resources. To promote public policies and leverage resources for the support of the solidarity economy. Examples might include: loan fund for solidarity economy enterprises; reduction of barriers faced by ‘alternative’ forms of enterprise in terms of access to capital, tech. assistance, workforce development, etc.; tax incentives; support for research and dissemination; support for educational programs to train solidarity economy practitioners.
  • Knowledge. To facilitate research on the scope, scale, and impacts of the solidarity economy; best practices; opportunities for cooperation; and the development of training and technical support resources. To contribute to new theories of economic development informed by the dynamism and innovative practices within the solidarity economy. This knowledge base will be used to support objectives 3-5.

USSEN Structure

The USSEN Coordinating Committee was formed out of the Solidarity Economy Caucus meetings held at the U.S. Social Forum (Atlanta, GA) in June 2007. The SEN Board and four Working Groups were established in the spring of 2009, following a decision made at the first national Forum on the Solidarity Economy, held at the Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst from March 19-22, 2009.

The SEN Board currently includes the following members:

  • Center for Community and Labor Research
  • Highlander Research and Education Center
  • Center for Popular Economics
  • US Federation of Community Development Credit Unions
  • NASCO (N. American Students of Cooperation)
  • National Community Land Trust Network
  • Grassroots Economic Organizing
  • Community Services Unlimited
  • U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives
  • Rural Coalition
  • Jobs with Justice

The 4 Working Groups (WG) are:

- Research & Policy WG: coordinator Julie Matthaei
- Education, Networking and Organizing (NEO) WG: coordinator Elandria Williams
- Media & Communication WG: coordinator Dan Apfel
- Development (Fundraising) WG: coordinator Emily Kawano

If you are interested in getting involved in any of these working groups, please contact the coordinator.

The intention is for SEN to become an independent 501c3 (non-profit) organization. It was agreed that in this initial phase, the Center for Popular Economics would serve as the fiscal sponsor and provide core staffing, provisional upon raising financial resources.