Insight 2011, No 1


Worker-owners of Metal Varela foundry, Buenos Aires. Credit: Paula Surraco and The Working World/La Base

Welcome to Insight, an ebulletin that keeps you in touch with important developments in community resilience and transition. Insight is a publication of the Canadian Centre for Community Renewal (CCCR), and the successor to CEDworks!

Bienvenue à Insight, un bulletin électronique qui vous informe sur les développements importants sur la résilience et la transition des communautés. Insight est une publication du Centre canadien pour le renouveau communautaire (CCRC), et le successeur de CEDworks !

In this issue ...

i4 is an ejournal that reports on the efforts of people in Canada and around the world to Inspire, Innovate, Incite, and Invent ways of life and work that sustain both people and planet. This i4 release concerns the role that co-operatives could play in the transition from old-style, corporate capitalism ...


Into the Breach

When corporate capitalism fails to deliver, what can? Argentina offers a dramatic test case that bears comparison with the transitions that are happening in Canada and other parts of the world.

During Argentina's economic crisis in 2001, many industries closed their doors. Employees found themselves locked out, without social security or unemployment insurance, sometimes after years of being paid in IOUs. What to do but … go back to work anyway? Hundreds of people returned to abandoned plants (like Metal Varela, in our banner photo), occupied them, refurbished and then re-opened them, often as worker-co-operatives. Read on.

Exploring the Co-operative Alternative

Despite their many advantages, co-ops have some serious learning to do if they are to take on a greater role in the economy. Like Argentina's Cristal Avellaneda glassworks (right), they have to act at multiple levels of federation. They have to zero in on the sectors where co-ops leave capitalism utterly outclassed. They also have to recognize the spirit and purpose of co-operation in the many collaborative practices to which the internet is giving rise.

See A Co-operative Idea for the 21st Century (in English with a French language summary). Photocredit: Paula Surraco.

The Fromagerie St-Albert (right) is an Ontario cheese factory remarkable for its longevity (116 years!) and for its recent recovery in a market that is fiercely competitive and dominated by agri-food multinationals. How has St-Albert managed the turn-around? To a great extent, by relearning and entrenching the values and practices that served it so well over the previous four generations.

See Une vision à très long terme (in French with an English language summary). Photocredit: Fromagerie St-Albert.


CCCR has a New Website!

Two years in the making, is now live, with …

  • Innovations that are critical to community resilience and transition
  • A range of Services that CCCR staff can provide
  • Publications and other resources, almost all now directly downloadable, and free
  • Workshops and other news about communities in transition
  • A range of i4 topic proposals looking for supporters

We welcome your comments!


Engaging Communities in Food Sovereignty

Grassroots International and the National Family Farm Coalition have released a booklet that uses nine carefully-chosen profiles of small-scale farmers to outline why and how food sovereignty is being reclaimed around the world. Pricing, Markets, Food Policy, Seed Banks, working conditions, and other strategies and options are introduced. A great little resource for community engagement. Download Food Sovereignty or an entire curriculum for mobilizing local and regional action in food.

For community engagement resources specific to Canada, backed up with a national policy-making process that will launch this May, see the People's Food Policy Project.


Two Great Videos

At the crossroads of knowledge (18 mins.) explains how critical community-university research alliances (CURAs) are to the impact of the social economy on public policy and on society as a whole. CURAs are a major reason for the success of social economy organizations in Quebec to make themselves understood and relied upon by government. (In French with English language subtitles.)

Life After Growth - Economics for Everyone (25 mins.) is a witty, but wise reflection on the possibility of an economy whose primary measure of success is not growth, or at least, not growth in production and consumption. Enmedia Productions explore the possibility of aiming to "get big" in other ways.


Affordable Housing: an i4 Special Edition

Over the next four months i4 will publish a series of articles about the growing dilemma of housing that Canadians cannot afford - because of the load it places on household incomes (30% or better), and because of the load it places on the environment. Our housing system is out of whack, and if it is to be fixed, the social economy could have to do much of the heavy lifting. Find out more.


Insight is a service to subscribers of i4, a free ejournal about community resilience and transition in an age of peak oil and climate change. (All recipients of CEDworks! now have i4 subscriptions.)

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Don McNair
Canadian Centre for Community Renewal
1601 - 25th Avenue, Vernon, B.C. V1T 1M8 CANADA
tel 250-542-7057

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