In addition to subscribing to the 7 Cooperative Principles, Cooperation New Orleans is rooted in the following values:
1. Alternative to Racial Capitalism
Racial capitalism is the dominant global economic system based on exploitation, especially of Black and indigenous peoples and people of color, and on extraction of resources and labor from people and the planet. We do this work to build an alternative economic system based on cooperation and shared stewardship of resources, by developing an interdependent ecosystem of cooperative projects.
Our communities have long legacies and lived experience of cooperative economics that show up in cultural norms and practices. New Orleans is a cultural city, and culture is an essential part of the local economy. Too often, culture that is rooted in communities’ survival, spiritual practices, brilliance and creativity is devalued, exploited, and coopted for profits made by people outside of these communities. Black, indigenous, immigrant, and other communities don’t always use the word “cooperative”, but often practice cooperative economics in their families and communities. We honor these practices, and root our work in generations of survival and creativity.
3. Building Power
We use cooperatives as a tool to organize and build the governance and leadership practices of poor and working class communities of color to build and shift power in our lives and in the economy. The economy is the basis of power in our society and we are building democracy into this area that so deeply impacts our lives. Building power includes community self-sufficiency, ownership of labor, land, property, access to resources and shifting power to the commons.
Cooperation New Orleans works to build and deepen relationships among intersecting communities of color including immigrant, Latinx, African American, and indigenous communities including Vietnamese and Afro-descendent Garifuna communities. Class privileged and white allies are part of this movement. Uniting across communities builds our power and rejects the divide and conquer tactics of oppression. Language justice is a critical tool we use to build solidarity.
Bulbancha is the Choctaw word for the place where many languages are spoken. Through colonization and the violent development of capitalism, and its location on the Mississippi river, New Orleans became the “northernmost city in the Caribbean” because the New Orleans port was important for trade in the plantation economy and the trafficking of enslaved African people. As a French and Spanish colony, this place was connected to revolutionary and counter-revolutionary struggles in places like Haiti and Honduras. We are committed to learning and sharing these historical forces that have shaped the current economy, and stand in solidarity with the spirit of revolution and justice with our family similarly impacted by colonization and exploitation. Cooperatives are one mechanism to rebuild sovereignty, self-determination, and healing from systemic violence.
These values were collectively developed in Fall 2020 using the Informed Consent Decision Making Model