2012 SI – Economics for the 99% │Workshops & Plenaries

Workshops and Plenaries

Monday │ 1:30-3:00 │ Workshops

Workshop 1A │ Rm 1510 │ Economics and OWS │ Suresh Naidu, Occupy Alternative Banking Working Group

This workshop will talk a bit about the economic research around the issues raised by OWS, including debt, inequality, unemployment, the financial crisis and the associated political economy.

Workshop 1B │Media for the 99% │Steven Renderos, Center for Media Justice│Carlos Pareja, People’s Production House

The media is becoming increasingly dominated by mega-corporations like Disney, Time Warner and Viacom, resulting in news and cultural programming that is geared towards supporting the interests of the 1%. In this workshop, we will look at the fight back against the corporate hi-jack of the media and strategies to democratize the media so that it serves and reflects the 99%.

Monday │ 3:30-5:00 │ Workshops

Workshop 2A │Organizing Immigrant-led cooperatives as a tool to tackle poverty and build empowerment among workers │ Vanessa Bransburg, Center for Family Life

In this workshop the presenter will share the history of how the Center for Family Life came to incubate worker cooperatives in the Sunset Park, Brooklyn community. More specifically, we will explore the particular use of a cooperative model to organize low-income immigrant residents in order to earn a living wage, provide collective support to one another and formalize their work environment. The presenter will speak about the Si Se Puede! Women’s Cleaning Cooperative and Beyond Care Child Care Cooperative to demonstrate the impact that the cooperatives have had on the members and their families.

Workshop 2B │Community Financial Justice │Deyanira Del Rio, Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project │Linda Levy, Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union

This workshop will explore how poor communities are both underserved and exploited by banks and mortgage lenders. Neighborhoods once credit-starved are now flooded with abusive and destabilizing credit, from payday loans to subprime mortgages.  Explore how the resulting debt burdens on families and communities have eroded financial gains, fueled displacement and segregation, and perpetuated economic inequality. This workshop will also explore strategies for change – from grassroots organizing and policy advocacy to the creation of democratic, local financial institutions.

Monday │ 7:00-9:00 │ Plenary: Housing as a right, not a commodity: collective strategies and solutions 

  • Brittany Scott, National Economics and Social Rights Initiative
  • Max Rameau, Take Back the Land
  • Tom Angotti, CUNY

With the backdrop of millions of families losing their homes to foreclosures, a massive public bailout of the financial industry and skyrocketing unemployment, we are increasingly compelled to rethink and reconsider the dominant paradigms and assumptions about the world around us, including our relationship to land and housing, the proper function of government, the role of large financial institutions and our own responsibility for each other. Housing as a Right, Not a Commodity will provide a framework of analysis that connects the relentless housing crisis to a broader economic human rights crisis. Panelists will discuss how communities facing homelessness and displacement are organizing to meet their immediate needs, while building the grassroots power needed to fundamentally transform the very structures of an unjust housing and finance system.

Tuesday │ 7:00-9:00 │Plenary: Roots of the Crisis  │Rm 1501

  • Rick Wolff, Prof. of Economics emeritus, UMass, radio show host, and author of Occupy the Economy (for more links to Rick Wolf click here & here
  • Cathy O’Neil, former quantitive analyst at a Wall St. hedge fund, now active with Occupy the SEC

The current economic crisis was neither an accident nor unforeseen. Growing inequality, financial speculation and recklessness, and the housing bubble combined to create the meltdown, but its roots lie in the fundamental nature of capitalism which is prone to instability and crisis. Marxist economist Rick Wolff, radio show host and author of Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism, will look at role played by growing inequality. Cathy O’Neil, former quantitative analyst for a Wall St. hedge fund who became disillusioned and joined the Occupy movement, will provide an insider’s view of Wall St. and the financial system. She blogs about these issues on Mathbabe.

Wednesday │1:30-3:00 │ Workshops

Workshop 3A │The Role of Prison in Capitalist Society │Geert Dhondt, CPE Staff economist

The U.S. incarcerates more of its own people then any other nation in the world.  While the U.S. has roughly 5% of the worlds population, it houses almost 25% of the worlds prisoners.  In the last four decades, local, state and federal prisons grew sevenfold.  2/3 of all prisoners were white in 1965, today 2/3 of all prisoners are Blacks and Lationos.  What can explain this massive growth? Why did this happen? How is this boom in incarceration related to crime? What are some important consequences of this mass incarceration? What can the study of mass imprisonment add to our understanding of race and class relations in contemporary capitalism?

Workshop 3B │Budget and revenue policies based on human rights │Anja Rudiger, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative 

Link to video of workshop    Article: Vermont State Spending, Huffington Post
In an economic recession, progressives are often kept busy stemming the tide of budget cuts. How can we move from this defensive stance to a proactive solution that puts an end to the austerity paradigm and results in equitable spending and revenue policies? This workshop will explore how the human rights framework can be used to fundamentally change the way budget and revenue policy is made. It can be applied to federal, state and local budgets, enabling us to envision public budgets whose purpose is to meet everyone’s fundamental needs. As an example, we will look at the state of Vermont, which recently took a very first step toward a human rights-based People’s Budget. We will review the tools develop by community activists in Vermont and examine how these can be adapted for use in other states.

Wednesday │3:30-5:00 │ Workshops

Workshop 4A │Investing in Care for Job Creation│Thomas Masterson, CPE staff economist, Levy Institute

There are around 12.7 million people in the U.S. who are unemployed and many discouraged workers who aren’t even looking for a job anymore and therefore aren’t counted. This workshop will explore the role that public investment can and must play in creating jobs. Social sector investment in care work, such as early childhood education and home-based care, would generate twice as many jobs per dollar spent as infrastructure spending and nearly 1.5 times the number created by investment in green energy, while catering to the most vulnerable segments of the workforce.

Wednesday │7:00-9:00│Plenary: Beyond Capitalism: Socialism, Anarchism and Solidarity Economy

  • Emily Kawano, Center for Popular Economics & US Solidarity Economy Network
  • Maia Ramnath, Institute for Anarchist Studies
  • Lenina Nadal, Right to the City

Solidarity Economy Prezi

This panel will explore three approaches to moving beyond capitalism towards a just and sustainable system: democratic forms of socialism, anarchism and the solidarity economy. We’ll discuss questions such as: what are the differences and areas of friction between these approaches? What are the areas of overlap and intersection? What is the potential and what are the limits to working together more deeply?

Thursday │3:30-5:00 │ Workshops

Workshop 5A │Participatory Budgeting: Real Money, Real Power │Donata Secondo, Participatory Budgeting Project

Click here to view the video shown during the presentation.

Secondo -PB Solidarity economy powerpoint
Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Pioneered in Porto Alegre, Brazil, PB has spread to municipalities around the world including Chicago and NYC. By giving people real decision-making power over real money, PB empowers traditionally marginalized communities to create real changes in their neighborhoods. Often, this helps redirect public funding to communities most in need.

Workshop 5B │The Color of Food: The impact of our food system on immigrants and communities of color │Michelle Hughes, Grow NYC │Lorrie Clevenger, Why Hunger │Karen Washington, Just Food

Local Food and Immigrant Farmers

Explore the effects of labor exploitation and institutional  and systemic racism on the production and availability of food in the United States. Who is producing our food and why?  What is being done in the fight against poverty and hunger in low income communities?  Participants will come away with a better understanding who really has the power when it comes to our food system.

Friday │ 1:00-5:30 │ Solidarity Economy Tour, Brooklyn

SolidarityNYC has organized a tour of solidarity economy practices in Brooklyn. The tour will include visits to the Park Slope Food Co-op, one of the oldest and most successful in the country; the Brooklyn Commons, a community and arts space; Occucopy, a worker owned copy shop that grew out of the Occupy movement; OcuScreenPrinting a worker owned screen printing business that produces t-shirts, banners, and posters for the movement; Participatory budgeting in NYC; Working World

OccuScreenPrinting – www.owsscreenprinters.com – our shopping site that is soon to launch / Blog: http://owsscreenprintcoop.tumblr.com/  Twitter:https://twitter.com/owsscreenprint/ E-mail: owsscreenprintcoop@gmail.com



Tom Angotti teaches at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York where he directs the Center for Community Planning, which collaborates with community-based organizations on efforts to reclaim the commons. He edits Progressive Planning Magazine and is the author of New York For Sale and The New Century of the Metropolis.

Vanessa Bransburg, LCSW, has been the Cooperative Coordinator at the Center for Family Life in Brooklyn, NY since February 2008. She provides technical assistance and consultation to three Sunset Park, Brooklyn Worker-Owner Cooperatives and one Collective as well as other evolving cooperatives around New York City. Vanessa has also been a leader in the development of the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives (“Nick Nock”) since its inception in December 2009.

Lorrie Clevenger is the Capacity Building Coordinator for the Grassroots Action Network at WhyHunger where she helps support, connect, and mobilize innovative community – based food justice organizations to create equitable and sustainable change in local and regional food systems.  Prior to joining WhyHunger in 2010, Lorrie discovered her interest and passion for food justice work as the Administrative Assistant and Network Administrator at Just Food, a New York City-based non-profit working to unite local farms and (New York) city residents of all economic backgrounds with fresh, seasonal, sustainably grown food.  In addition to her role at WhyHunger, Lorrie is active in the NYC food justice community as a Just Food board member, a member of the Executive Committee for Farm School NYC, a community gardener at Taqwa Community Farm in the Bronx, NY, and a founding member of Black Urban Growers (BUGs) – serving as core member of the coordinating team for the first and 2nd Annual Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Conference in 2010 and 2011.

Deyanira Del Rio has 15 years’ experience working with community groups, policymakers, and community development financial institutions to promote economic justice in low income and immigrant neighborhoods.  She is the Associate Director of NEDAP, an advocacy center that promotes community financial justice through coalition organizing, policy reform, participatory research, shareholder activism, community education, and legal strategies.  Deyanira is the Board Chair of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union and Board Vice-Chair of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, through which she has worked with financial cooperatives throughout the United States and abroad.  She also serves on the board of New Immigrant Community Empowerment, a worker center in Jackson Heights, Queens.  She has received fellowships from the Future of the City of New York – Revson Program and the Coro Immigrant Civic Leadership Program, as well as the Mujeres Destacadas (Outstanding Women) award from El Diario/La Prensa.

Geert Dhondt, CPE staff economist. Geert teaches economics at John Jay College, The City University of New York, and has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Michelle Hughes is the Director of GrowNYC’s New Farmer Development Project (NFDP) where she identifies, trains and supports immigrants with agricultural experience to establish their own economically and environmentally sustainable family farms.   During her 8 years with the NFDP, Michelle has brought her agricultural expertise, Spanish language and cross cultural skills to the project to help people recognize the breadth of skills and knowledge that they already possess that can be leveraged to create successful farm businesses.   Since joining the project in 2004, she has supported the establishment of 19 immigrant-owned farms on over 300 acres through whole farm planning, land identification, marketing support and a microcredit loan fund.  Prior to joining the NFDP Michelle co-managed a 3-acre organic vegetable CSA in New Jersey, worked with at-risk youth to establish a market garden in Newark, NJ, and worked with rural farmers in Bolivia to build greenhouses as a Peace Corps volunteer.  She has a BS in natural resource management and Agroecology, and is a board member of the National Young Farmer Coalition.   She was a 2012 speaker at TEDxManhattan: Changing the Way We Eat.

Emily Kawano is an economist and the Director of the Center for Popular Economics and coordinator of the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network. She taught economics at Smith College and worked as the National Economic Justice Representative for the American Friends Service Committee. While working in N. Ireland, she founded a popular economics program with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, served on the N.I. Social Economy Network Working Group and worked with two Belfast Community Development Agencies to develop and deliver a social economy training program for community groups seeking to start up social enterprises.

Thomas Masterson is a Research Scholar and the Director of Applied Micro-modelling at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College in the Distribution of Income and Wealth program. Currently he is working on developing an inequality impact assessment methodology with application to climate policy. He is also “Your Friendly Neighborhood Economist,” heard on WGXC 90.7FM Hudson, Catskill, Acra, NY. He has been a CPE staff economist since 1997.

Lenina Nadal is currently the communications director for the Right to the City Alliance – an alliance of 43 member organizations that are fighting for just, sustainable and democratic cities and against gentrification and displacement.  Lenina started her organizing journey as a founding member of the Student Liberation Action Movement which was birthed in 1995 at CUNY campuses and lasted for 8 years. The organization of student activists led some of the most inspiring actions in NYC to protect public education and to bring light to the issues of police brutality and connect local and international struggles. Recently, she was on the coordinating committee of the New York Study group, a mostly socialist grassroots formation to bring together New York City organizers to study together to better define socialism, anarchism, and liberal/progressive politics as it manifests in today’s world and to understand organizing models like transformative organizing and older Alinsky traditions. One of the goals was to align fighting for local reforms with more radical demands and a vision for  alternative models of economy and leadership in our city and society.  On her free time she loves to play with her daughter Vivianna Assata, she writes and reads poetry, is a theatre buff and watches a lot of you tube, for research purposes.

Suresh Naidu is a CPE staff economist and assistant professor of economics and public affairs at Columbia/SIPA and worked in various capacities with Occupy Wall Street.

Cathy O’Neil earned a Ph.D. in math from Harvard, was postdoc at the MIT math department, and a professor at Barnard College where she published a number of research papers in arithmetic algebraic geometry. She then chucked it and switched over to the private sector. She worked as a quant for the hedge fund D.E. Shaw in the middle of the credit crisis, and then for RiskMetrics, a risk software company that assesses risk for the holdings of hedge funds and banks. She is currently a data scientist on the New York start-up scene, writes a blog at mathbabe.org, and is involved with the #Occupy Wall Street Alternative Banking Working Group.

Carlos Pareja, Training and Policy Director, Peoples Production House. Carlos is a media activist, educator and filmmaker who has worked with both adult and youth populations teaching video production and media literacy and organizing around media access. Previously, Carlos has worked with Paper Tiger Television, the Educational Video Center, Indymedia and Brooklyn Community Access Television. His documentaries have screened as part of The Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival, Whitney Biennial and the Museum of Modern Art. He is a firm believer that access to media creation tools, knowledge of media production technique and open distribution platforms are key to a functional democracy.

Max Rameau is a Haitian born Pan-African theorist, campaign strategist, organizer and author. In 2006 helped found the organization which eventually became known as Take Back the Land. In October 2006, Take Back the Land seized control of a vacant lot in Miami and built the Umoja Village, a full urban shantytown, addressing the issues of land, self-determination and homelessness in the Black
community. The local organization inspired the national Take Back the Land Movement, a trans-local network of organizations engaged in land liberation and eviction defense in pursuit of the human right to housing and community control over land. Max is currently Executive Director of Movement Catalyst, providing movement support work to Take Back the Land’s local action groups and other organizations that are building a national movement for economic and racial justice.

Maia Ramnath is a board member of the Institute for Anarchist Studies, Maia Ramnath is the author of two books on South Asian anticolonial movements, Decolonizing Anarchism and Haj to Utopia.  She organizes with South Asia Solidarity Initiative and the OWS-Global Justice Working Group. She is currently  a visiting scholar at NYU.

Steven Renderos is the national organizer at the Center for Media Justice. He comes to CMJ from the Main Street Project, where Steven led Main Street Project’s media justice and community building efforts.. He brings more than seven years of community organizing and training experience, and more than ten years of filmmaking and media production experience to our organization. Prior to joining Main Street Project, Steven served as Project Coordinator of the Minnesotano Media Empowerment Project, an initiative of the Department of Chicano Studies at the University of Minnesota focused on improving the quality and quantity of media coverage and representation of Latinos in Minnesota. He currently serves on the boards of Organizing Apprenticeship Project, La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, and Center for Media Justice.

Anja Rudiger, Ph.D., is a program director at the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), based in New York City. Anja works with grassroots groups and coalitions across the United States to develop human rights strategies and tools to advance social and economic justice, particularly in the areas of health care reform and budget/revenue policies. Anja has extensive experience in promoting a rights-based approach to policy-making at local, national and international levels. In addition to various consultancy assignments, her previous roles include directing the research department at the British Refugee Council, managing the UK Secretariat of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, and leading a small gender & development consulting organization, all based in London, UK. Anja has a range of academic and policy publications and holds a Ph.D. in Political Theory from the University of Kiel in Germany.

Brittany Scott is the Campaign Coordinator of the Human Right to Housing Program at the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. In collaboration with grassroots groups and networks, Brittany develops human rights strategies and tools to advance participatory and equitable development policy that ensures basic and decent housing for all. She received her J.D. from Fordham Law School in New York, and has done extensive research and writing on issues of social and economic justice.

Donata Secondo is the PBP Project Coordinator for PBNYC, the participatory budgeting initiative by which residents of eight NYC Council Districts are directly deciding how to spend at least $10 million of public money this year. She is a graduate in Development Studies and Latin American Studies of Brown University. Her past professional experience includes work with the Watson Institute for International Studies as well CENDA, a leading Chilean political think tank, and CEDEM, a women’s studies research institute. She has been researching the diffusion of participatory budgeting and its impact on social justice for several years.

Richard Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York City. He hosts a weekly radio program on WBAI (99.5 FM, New York City) called “Economic Update” that is nationally syndicated. His book publications in 2012 include: (1) Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism with David Barsamian, (2) Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian and Marxian with Stephen Resnick , and (3) Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism. All his work is gathered and available atwww.rdwolff.com.

Karen Washington has lived in New York City all her life, and has been a resident of the Bronx for over 25 years. Since 1985 Karen has been a community activist, striving to make New York City a better place to live. As a community gardener, Karen has worked with neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens. As an advocate, she has stood up and spoken out for garden protection and preservation. As a member of the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, she launched a City Farms Market, bringing garden fresh vegetables to her neighbors. Karen is on the boards of the New York Botanical garden, Why Hunger and Just Food. As a Just Food Trainer, she leads workshops on growing food and food justice to community gardeners all over the city. Karen is also the former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, a group that was founded to preserve community gardens and on the board of the New York Botanical Gardens. Professionally Karen has been a Physical Therapist for over 30 years, and she continues to balance her professional life with community service.