The Solidarity Economy
The solidarity economy is held together by common values, such as cooperation, democracy, equality, justice, ecological sustainability, community, and respect for diversity. Ultimately, solidarity provides a framework of social and economic development that prioritizes people and planet over the extractive practices of personal profits and power.
In short, people and planet over profit! In the Chicago region, we’ve always had strong grassroots movement of individuals and enterprises for more inclusive change, but making the changes sustainable has often been difficult without institutions carrying the torch further.
Who We Are
ChiCommons Cooperative [also known as ChiCommons CoOp, and ChiCommons LWCA (Limited Worker Cooperative Association)] is a multi-stakeholder organization composed of Worker-Owners, Consumer-Owners, Producer-Owners, and Investor-Owners.
ChiCommons is a racially, culturally, and class-diverse set of individuals who have considerable expertise and experience in broad areas of strategy, technology, community-organizing, business management, and facilitation.
Our members were drawn together by the local civic technology, environmental sustainability, and cooperative movements for specific events and projects.
To work more cohesively for greater impact, we formed as an Illinois Limited Worker Cooperative Association (IL LWCA) in March 2020. This type of organization can make decisions in the best interests of a broader set of stakeholders than can a typical corporation.
The vision of ChiCommons is empowered, integrated, equitable, cooperative/solidarity economies across the Chicago region; connected globally, with ChiCommons-provided tools, services, and strategies.
The Chicago area has been beset with problems of longstanding inequality and lack of access to resources. ChiCommons hopes to be part of the solutions!
Our mission is to cooperatively foster and grow a people-owned solidarity economy in the Chicago region.
How? By serving paying clients such as local businesses, cooperatives, and nonprofits our technology and business consulting services. We also seek to serve local communities with better digital connectivity than they have today, and to map the various assets of the Solidarity Economy for awareness and growth.
We, the owners, have developed this statement of values. This is an evolving list, which will change over time as we grow and develop. Accountability, Balance, Beyond Work, Cooperation and Connectivity, Fairness, Inclusion, Learning and Teaching, Respect, Service, and Transparency. These values are presented in alphabetical order and imply no particular prioritization.
ChiCommons currently hosts three projects,
For 5 years, some of our members have built and are maintaining a map of over 800 cooperative and solidarity entities in the Chicago region. Whether you are looking for cooperative housing, a community garden, a local credit union or a farmers market in your neighborhood, you can find it on our cooperative map.
We plan to eventually offer other capabilities, including for authenticated cooperatives to login and update their own information.
We can use some skills as we develop this map, specifically. Please consider getting involved as a volunteer
Our South Shore partner, Windsor Park Evangelical Lutheran Church, gave us a headstart on our BlockShare program by providing local Internet access in and around the church for over 5 years now.
We’ve extended that concept by imagining a local wifi intranet with a server and applications. Neighbors (co-op owners) can share their garden produce, time, talents, and tools in a time-banking fashion while getting wholesale prices on an Internet Connection. The whole project will be neighborhood owned, operated and governed,
- maintaining control at the neighborhood level
- facilitating growth of a local economy
- bringing neighbors together for positive change
To sustain ourselves financially, we created a full-service worker-owned consulting arm. ChiCommons Consulting offers paid business and technology services to local businesses, cooperatives, nonprofits, social movements, and inclusive real estate developments.
We operate as an agency, charging market rates to our commercial clients and deeply-discounted rates to local cooperatives.
Also, if you are a free-lancer or looking for work, consider joining us as a worker-owner. The first step is to let us know your skills and expertise. Take our skills survey here and we’ll contact you with further details.