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Kwaku Osei: Pioneering Community-Directed Funds at Cooperative Capital [Ep. 169]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Kwaku Osei is the CEO of Cooperative Capital. He was previously an Executive Associate at Rock Ventures where he worked on special projects with Dan Gilbert and served as CEO to Project X LLC, a $1MM+ tech spinout of Rock Ventures. Prior to Rock Ventures he was at Deloitte Consulting in DC, where he focused on technology, business process reengineering, strategic change and communications for various clients. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Honor's College, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with University Honors.

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Interview Highlights:

  • A window into Kwaku’s background and his assertive, pioneering approach to his work

  • An overview of the purpose and some of the design considerations of Cooperative Capital and it’s community-based fund(s)

  • Kwaku shares his struggle with overcoming some of the legal hurdles pertaining to securities law that have delayed the launch of the fund(s)

  • We hear about some other actors in the Next Economy doing similar pioneering work in the space of democratizing capital and community development

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

Modou Sowe: No-Till Farming in California & The Gambia [Ep. 168]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Modou Sowe is born to a farming community called Wellingara Village in The Gambia. He was among the lucky children of farmers with the opportunity to be educated.

Upon completion of his High School education in 2004, he realized that the ever increasing livestock theft has affected farmers and even forced them to sell the herds.

With the determination for a change, he organized his fellow youths to combat against this problem by forming a small community based organization called the shepherd and livestock owners association which expands to be a national association called The National Livestock Owners Association in which he is the Secretary General.

Modou is also the national youth coordinator of the national coordinating organization for farmers association The Gambia (NACOFAG). Which is the national networking organization for all farmers associations in The Gambia.

In 2018, he was selected to participate in a yearlong leadership training program by the McCain Institute for International Leadership in the USA and specialized in farming.

Modou hopes to increase youth participation in the agricultural value chain of The Gambia for youth empowerment opportunities, economic development and national food security by establishing the first ever no till organic farm academy that will train, support and motivate youth farmers in no-till farming.

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Interview Highlights:

  • Modou shares his background, giving some background on his agricultural work in The Gambia

  • Modou discusses his experience with Singing Frogs Farm, no till farming, and it’s implications for climate change and the conditions for farming in The Gambia

  • Modou shares his insights for what he believes is most needed for the people and the land in The Gambia

https://www.gofundme.com/support-next-generation-farmers-in-the-gambia/

https://www.mccaininstitute.org/next-generation-leaders/modou-sowe/

https://www.mccaininstitute.org/podcast/in-the-arena-episode-29-modou-sowe/

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Erin Axelrod is a Partner at LIFT Economy, helping to accelerate the spread of climate-beneficial businesses, specializing in businesses that address critical soil and water regeneration. She is an avid ecologist, grassroots organizer and regularly forages for wild food in her home in rural Sonoma County. You can follow Erin on Twitter @erinaxelrod or email her erin@lifteconomy.com.

Vincent Medina & Louis Trevino: Reviving & Strengthening Indigenous Foods of SF Bay Area [Ep. 166]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Vincent Medina is a member of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, where he also serves as a Councilman representing his family’s lineage. He and Louis Trevino co-founded mak-‘amham, an organization and restaurant focused on reviving and strengthening traditional Ohlone foods and sharing them with their communities. Vincent was born and continues to live in his family’s indigenous tribal area of Halkin (Southern Oakland/San Leandro/San Lorenzo).

Louis Trevino is a Rumsen Ohlone community member active in the cultural revitalization efforts of his people. He is focused primarily on the revitalization of the Rumsen language and traditional Ohlone foods. He longs for a full and holistic revitalization of the lifeways of his ancestors, including language, story, song, art, food, and every other aspect of traditional Rumsen Ohlone culture, and he is grateful to contribute to the effort. With his partner, Vincent, Louis co-founded mak-‘amham, which works to promote traditional Ohlone foods within their families, as well as to educate the public about Ohlone cuisine and identity.

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Interview Highlights:

  • Beyond the isolation of overcoming suppression of their culture in their own home, Vincent and Louis are creating a space where their fellow Ohlone community can see their traditional culture reflected through Cafe Ohlone.

  • Unapologetic and uncompromising, integrity of culture is paramount in all mak-‘amham does

  • Building allies, calls to action, and standing against misinformation & ongoing oppression

  • How to respectfully connect with your local Indigenous Community

https://www.makamham.com

https://heydaybooks.com/qa-with-vincent-medina/

https://ohlone.tumblr.com/

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Erin Axelrod is a Partner at LIFT Economy, helping to accelerate the spread of climate-beneficial businesses, specializing in businesses that address critical soil and water regeneration. She is an avid ecologist, grassroots organizer and regularly forages for wild food in her home in rural Sonoma County. You can follow Erin on Twitter @erinaxelrod or email her erin@lifteconomy.com.

Kanyon CoyoteWoman Sayers-Roods: Decolonizing & Reindigenizing Our Relationships [Ep 160]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Kanyon Sayers-Roods is Costanoan Ohlone-Mutsun and Chumash; she also goes by her given Native name, “Coyote Woman”. She is proud of her heritage and her native name (though it comes with its own back story), and is very active in the Native Community. She is an Artist, Poet, Published Author, Activist, Student and Teacher. The daughter of Ann-Marie Sayers, she was raised in Indian Canyon, trust land of her family, which currently is one of the few spaces in Central California available for the Indigenous community for ceremony. Kanyon’s art has been featured at the De Young Museum, The Somarts Gallery, Gathering Tribes, Snag Magazine, and numerous Powwows and Indigenous Gatherings. She is a recent graduate of the Art Institute of California, Sunnyvale, obtaining her Associate and Bachelor of Science degrees in Web Design and Interactive Media. She is motivated to learn, teach, start conversations around decolonization and reinidgenization, permaculture and to continue doing what she loves, Art.

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Interview Highlights:

  • Kanyon CoyoteWoman speaks to her experience as an ancestor in training and as an indigenous entrepreneur

  • The importance of establishing authentic relationship through asking, listening, respecting, humility, & permission

  • Why we should be shifting policy to authentically understand & respect local indigenous cultures

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Erin Axelrod is a Partner at LIFT Economy, helping to accelerate the spread of climate-beneficial businesses, specializing in businesses that address critical soil and water regeneration. She is an avid ecologist, grassroots organizer and regularly forages for wild food in her home in rural Sonoma County. You can follow Erin on Twitter @erinaxelrod or email her erin@lifteconomy.com.

Nia Evans & Lucas Turner-Owens: The Boston Ujima Project [Ep. 158]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Nia K. Evans is the Director of the Boston Ujima Project. Her educational background is in the areas of labor relations, education leadership, and policy. Her advocacy includes a focus on eliminating barriers between analysts and people with lived experiences as well as increasing acknowledgement of the value of diverse types of expertise in policy.

She is a co-creator of Frames Debate Project, a multimedia policy debate project that explores the intersection between drug policy, mental health services and incarceration in the state of Massachusetts.

Ms. Evans has a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a Master of Arts in Education Leadership, with a course of study in Leadership, Policy, and Politics from Teachers College at Columbia University. She also studied abroad at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, where she focused on International Labor Relations.


Lucas Turner-Owens serves as the Fund Manager for the Boston Ujima Project. As the Fund Manager, he is responsible for loan packaging, underwriting, and managing Ujima's portfolio of investments. In addition, Lucas also provides technical Assistance to entrepreneurs, connects them with business support organizations, and gives financial education to Ujima's investor base.

Prior to joining the Project, Lucas worked as an economic policy analyst for Operation HOPE, a nonprofit focused on consumer financial education. In this role, Lucas acted as an advisor to the CEO on government affairs and public policy with a focus on strategies designed to benefit underserved communities. After this time spent working in the economic policy space, Lucas worked as a loan officer for Cooperation DC, providing technical assistance and expansion loans from a network of impact investors to grow social enterprises and worker-owned co-operatives in Washington D.C. Following this Lucas joined Next Street Financial as a senior analyst in their Boston office. In this role, he applied his background in small business development and public policy to support clients making impact investments and strategic growth decisions.

Lucas was a founding member of Youth Against Mass Incarceration and has been active in local grassroots movements in Boston in partnership with groups such as Alternatives for Community and Environment and Reclaim Roxbury. Lucas holds a BA from Wesleyan University.

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Interview Highlights:

  • How Lucas and Nia first got into the type of work they are doing today

  • How the Boston Ujima Project is organizing neighbors, workers, business owners, and investors to create a new community controlled economy in Greater Boston.

  • The importance of centering working-class communities of color in the Boston Ujima Project’s work

  • Why the Ujima Project demonstrates new ways to invest, work, buy, own, and advocate.

  • Advice for other groups looking to start similar ecosystems in their own region

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Aaron Tanaka: Creating a Just, Regenerative, and Democratic Economy [Ep. 150]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Aaron Tanaka is founder and Director of the Boston-based Center for Economic Democracy. Aaron is also a community organizer, grant-maker, impact investor, and a founding organizer of the Boston Ujima Project, which brings together neighbors, workers, business owners and investors to create a new community-controlled regional economy. He is an Echoing Green and BALLE Fellow, and co-chair of the national New Economy Coalition and the Asian American Resource Workshop.

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Some highlights from Ryan Honeyman’s Conversation with Aaron Tanaka include:

  • How Aaron got into the work he is doing today

  • Aaron’s thoughts on democratizing capital and the launch of the Boston Ujima Project

  • How social entrepreneurs can get more involved in grassroots activism and movement building

  • The balance between creating examples of Next Economy solutions and organizing for policy change at the government level

  • Aaron’s thoughts on how folks can help create the Next Economy

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Funmilola Fagbamila: Black Lives Matter, White Allyship, & Emotional Intelligence [Ep. 149]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Funmilola Fagbamila is a Nigerian American scholar, activist, playwright and artist. She currently serves as a professor of Pan African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. As a founding member of the Black Lives Matter Movement, Funmilola has been organizing with BLM since its inception in 2013 and currently serves as the Arts and Culture director for the Los Angeles chapter. Her writing, political analyses and social commentary have been featured in publications such as the Guardian, NOW THIS news, and NPR. Funmilola has delivered keynote addresses at colleges and universities across the country. Her public commentary frequently touches on the topics of critical race theory, black complexity, criminal justice, health and wellness, modern pan-africanism, and the Arts.

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Some highlights from Erin Axelrod’s conversation with Funmilola Fagbamila include:

  • Exploring the roots of the Black Lives Matter Movement

  • Discussion of the myth of meritocracy in America

  • Emotional intelligence helps us to hear each other across ideological differences

  • Suggestions for supportive white allyship

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Erin Axelrod is a Partner at LIFT Economy, helping to accelerate the spread of climate-beneficial businesses, specializing in businesses that address critical soil and water regeneration. She is an avid ecologist, grassroots organizer and regularly forages for wild food in her home in rural Sonoma County. You can follow Erin on Twitter @erinaxelrod or email her erin@lifteconomy.com.

Varshini Prakash: Sunrise Movement Sees The Green New Deal on the Horizon [Ep. 148]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Varshini was born and raised outside Boston, MA. She got involved in the climate movement as an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She joined the UMass Fossil Fuel Divestment campaign early in her time at UMass and led the campaign for two years. In Spring 2016, the campaign won after a 2-week long mass escalation in which over 700 students, faculty, and alumni participated. 32 were arrested after peacefully refusing to leave the Whitmore Administration Building until UMass agreed to climate action. For the last three years, she has coordinated fossil fuel divestment campaigns with the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network at a regional and national level. She supported campaigns across the country through training, mentorship, and strategic guidance. Varshini supported the launch of Sunrise, a movement building an army of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. 

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Some highlights from Erin Axelrod’s conversation with Varshini Prakash include:

  • The Sunrise Movement is mobilizing tens of thousands to stop business as usual with The Green New Deal

  • The Green New Deal aims to address our climate crisis as well as wealth- and racial inequity

  • Today’s youth leadership are particularly positioned to be vanguards for social change

  • Envisioning a world where all of our basic needs as humans are met while providing a benefit to each other and our environment and contrasting this vision with our current world which is more of a lose-lose, zero-sum game.

  • How the Green New Deal harkens back to The New Deal and how the Green New Deal will similarly take many pieces of legislation over a period of decades.

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Erin Axelrod is a Partner at LIFT Economy, helping to accelerate the spread of climate-beneficial businesses, specializing in businesses that address critical soil and water regeneration. She is an avid ecologist, grassroots organizer and regularly forages for wild food in her home in rural Sonoma County. You can follow Erin on Twitter @erinaxelrod or email her erin@lifteconomy.com.

Tur-Ha Ak & Nicole Deane: Safety, Self-Determination, and Equity for the Disenfranchised [Ep. 146]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Tur-Ha Ak is the CEO of Urban Protection Industries, a harm reduction security company. He created the unique "harm reduction security" model to provide security for drug rehabilitation clinics in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco in the 1990s. The harm reduction security model emphasizes maintaining and enforcing boundaries within a specific geographical area, and building and utilizing community relationships to enhance security. Urban Protection continues to use this model today as the primary security for the Laurel Business Improvement District in Oakland. Urban Protection has also provided personal security services for Cheryl Davila of Berkeley City Council, Patrisse Cullors of Black Lives Matter, and Cat Brooks (Oakland Mayoral candidate) in the face of heightened threats from white nationalists. 

Tur-Ha is also the founder of Community Ready Corps (CRC), a Black grassroots organization with a mission to organize and empower the Black community towards safety, self determination and equity. Under Tur-Ha’s leadership, CRC has spearheaded and helped build effective multi-racial coalitions that address the most pressing issues facing the Black community in the Bay Area, including the Anti Police-Terror Project (which created the first replicable model nationally for community rapid response to police violence), the State of Black Oakland (a People’s Assembly), and Oakland Justice Coalition. Recognizing that Black people face a triple threat of state, racist vigilante, and inter-communal violence, Tur-Ha has dedicated his life to creating a culture and climate of safety and protection in Black communities by organizing neighborhood safety teams and rapid response networks, and providing free, regular self defense training for children and adults.

Nicole Deane is an organizer, filmmaker, and co-founder of Community Ready Corps (Allies & Accomplices), a cross-class, intergenerational and multi-tendency organization of white people committed to fighting white supremacy. CRC(A) works to move, teach, and support white people to weaponize white privilege and divest of white power, and to organize in a direct and disciplined relationship with Community Ready Corps.

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Some highlights from Erin Axelrod’s conversation with Tur-Ha Ak & Nicole Deane include:

  • Community Ready Corps was born in the moment when Oscar Grant was murdered

  • The “Next Economy” really begins with deep discussion of the existing predatory economy that’s built off the backs of disenfranchised people before we can formulate just and equitable next steps, such as achieving self determination for all people (which is CRC’s Prime Objective).

  • Defining the terms “persistent reestablishment of white supremacy” and “The 5 Methods of Weaponization and Divestment of White Power & Privilege

  • How the 2018 Black Solidarity Week began with listening sessions for each of the “9 areas of self determination” to determine ways to best support existing community efforts and how the 2019 Black Solidarity Week (Feb 17-23, 2019) attempts to organize and present a Black Solidarity Agenda and Plan of Action

  • The CRC’s Black Solidarity Fund, already having raised ~$25k of it’s $30k 2019 goal, is now giving out Black Solidarity Micro-grants of $500-$1500, to support existing programs from other organizations and to fund CRC’s programs

How Listeners Can Support Black Solidarity Week

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Erin Axelrod is a Partner at LIFT Economy, helping to accelerate the spread of climate-beneficial businesses, specializing in businesses that address critical soil and water regeneration. She is an avid ecologist, grassroots organizer and regularly forages for wild food in her home in rural Sonoma County. You can follow Erin on Twitter @erinaxelrod or email her erin@lifteconomy.com.

Rinku Sen: Racial Justice, Feminism, and Economic Empowerment [Ep. 140]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Rinku Sen is a writer and a political strategist. She is currently Senior Strategist at Race Forward, having formerly served as Executive Director and as Publisher of their award-winning news site Colorlines. She is also a James O. Gibson Innovation Fellow at PolicyLink. Under Sen’s leadership, Race Forward has generated some of the most impactful racial justice successes of recent years, including Drop the I-Word, a campaign for media outlets to stop referring to immigrants as “illegal,” resulting in the Associated Press, USA Today, LA Times, and many more outlets changing their practice. Her books Stir it Up and The Accidental American theorize a model of community organizing that integrates a political analysis of race, gender, class, poverty, sexuality, and other systems. She writes and curates the news at rinkusen.com.

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Some highlights from Ryan Honeyman’s Conversation with Rinku Sen include:

How Rinku initially got into racial justice organizing at Brown University

  • Rinku’s professional path through Race Forward and the Center for Third World Organizing

  • How she thinks about centering race, without losing sight of other historically marginalized communities

  • How the Restaurant Opportunities Center (which she covered in her second book, The Accidental American) has created a model for successful organizing of low-wage workers that has actually changed the restaurant industry

  • Rinku’s thoughts on identity politics and her new book that is in the works

Help these ideas reach more eyes & ears:

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.