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The YES Camp created the Care Package Podcasts to provide care, support, and humour to youth around BC in response to the crisis of COVID-19.

Our CCEC members have supported our youth to attend the YES camp for many years. At this time, the YES is uncertain if they can hold the camps, so they’ve pivoted their focus to doing what it can for struggling youth.

The podcast – appropriately titled Care Package – aims to engage youth who are experiencing an unprecedented amount of uncertainty and anxiety in a time of already huge change in their lives.

The Podcasts go out every week, usually Wednesdays. You can get notifications from your podcast apps if you subscribe, or you can subscribe to The YES mailing list on the website to get an email notification and their blog. They also post on Instagram and Facebook for each new post. Amongst the segments – interviews with staff members, call-ins from campers, and “poopses and oopses” – a time for embarrassing stories.

For Canada’s young people, the last month has brought about more change and uncertainty in their lives than possibly ever before. Kids Help Phone has recorded a 350% increase in youth seeking help over text since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – leading to Kids Help Phone asking for more volunteers to meet the demand.

The YES and our team are concerned about what’s going on for teenagers out there right now – so we wanted to do something that would provide some care and connection out to all those teens who might just be at home with their family, or they might be in a vulnerable situation.” – Chelsea Lake, Director of the YES

At CCEC, we are accepting sponsorship applications for youth who want to attend camp. Camp registrations are open and payment is on hold until they can confirm the camps can safely run. Email Joanne if you have youth wanting to attend the camp. If you would like to donate to the scholarship fund, please email or phone the branch. 


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"Pandemic Pals," Caremongers, and Good Ol' Friendliness are practical ways more neighbours are now helping neighbours. COVID-19 has led to many random acts of kindness. These are uncertain times and we are being urged to reduce our social interactions to “flatten the curve”.   We have implemented "social distancing" guidelines and a voluntary  "shelter in place".

Many CCEC member groups and businesses have been impacted as they have closed their galleries and restaurants, or postponed festivals and events. Local businesses are struggling as they operate on tight margins. Restaurants that offer take-out are open and may not be accepting cash -  only debit and credit cards. With K-12 classes suspended indefinitely, school meal programs are being reviewed to ensure kids in need don’t suffer.  

We have neighbours who are struggling financially, who live month to month on a fixed income, and cannot afford to stock their pantry.  Let’s knock on their door (respecting social distancing) or phone them and ask how you can help.  

We all know examples of how our  community is reaching out and making connections to help those who are feeling even more isolated and lonely. It is inspiring to learn that some stores are dedicating times each day day for seniors or those who need assistance or consideration; accepting donations to distribute to those in need in their area;  starting initiatives like Breaking Bread that lets you know how you can support your local, independent restaurants.

It's heartening to see so many more people and groups become ignited about neighbourly mutual aid!


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We need social housing and welfare rates enough to cover basic rent in the city. There are 2,223 homeless people in Vancouver, up only 2.2% but there are more seniors, women and those who had housing now in the homeless count. It takes political will and all levels of government to address the problem. Read more in the just released  The Vancouver Homeless Count 2019 


In 2015, Medicine Hat declared it had ended chronic homelessness. The program continues to be successful. "Our definition of ending homelessness never did include the idea that it would never exist again, and that people would never fall back into that state of homelessness," said Jaime Rogers, the manager of homeless and housing at the Medicine Hat Community Housing Society. ​"We still need emergency shelters and we absolutely have people in our community that still experience homelessness. However, anyone who experiences being homeless is for a period that is "brief and short-lived," she said. 


The Mayor of Medicine Hat calls on provinces and Ottawa to provide the funding, but then to allow municipalities to implement strategies that makes the most sense wherever they're at. He says that their homeless strategy is saving taxpayers money in  terms of declining costs of crime, health care and child welfare services. 


Housing is for community not developers. On November 30, a rally was held at what was the Little Mountain Housing site. Ten years ago the residents were removed and the buildings demolished on what was Vancouver’s first social housing site (built in 1954). The 15 acre site continues to be vacant. A rally spokesperson says, “It was a successful social housing community. Many, many thousands of people grew up and lived their lives there. The buildings could have been renovated.”  The spokesperson adds, “It’s clear that the redevelopment of Little Mountain has been a failure. We are calling on the government to #Take Back the Mountain,’ to take the Little Mountain site into public hands and to build the kind of housing that people need and deserve in Vancouver.”


Read the  Vancouver Homeless Count 2019 Report 

Learn more about the Homeless Action Strategy in Alberta 

 
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My book, The Co-op Revolution (Caitlin Press), talks about Roger Inman, CCEC and 1970's co-ops.  It is an account of my time with the co-op movement in Vancouver’s activist years of the 1970s. I was a founder and member of CRS Workers’ Co-op, an organization that was owned and managed by us. We started four projects in Vancouver, all to do with food production and distribution: a cannery that preserved BC fruit in honey, a beekeeping co-op, a bakery and a food wholesaler. As well, we helped other small food co-ops get started.

Sometime in the autumn of 1975 Michael Goldstein showed up at the Pandora Street office of CRS Workers’ Co-op with a sheaf of documents in hand. We knew that the co-op movement possessed its own form of financial institution founded by the people, for the people’s well-being. So when Michael told our group that he and others were trying to organize just such a credit union to be called CCEC, we were happy to sign up. Several of us signed on a charter document that night and some of us expressed interest on serving on the new credit union’s committees when it received its charter in 1976. Right on!—as we said in those days. This was what co-operatives needed—access to funds that were not governed by the big business of Canada's banks or subject to the day’s political whims. The credit union movement would be a big boon to women in business as well, recognizing their abilities to manage a loan without requiring a man at the helm.

From The Co-op Revolution: “Most of us opened our personal share/saving accounts at CCEC when it moved to its first real office at 205 E. 6th Avenue. I was member number 32 and my deposit card reports that on March 4, 1976, I deposited $4 to open my account, after which the deposits and withdrawals continued sporadically until 1981. That first transaction was initialed by K, which probably stood for Katherine Ruffen, the first manager.

The best thing about this credit union was its personal service in the days before ATM machines. If I had neglected to withdraw cash on a Friday for the weekend’s activities, I could call Katherine at work and tell her I was on my way. “Please don’t leave until I get there,” I would say, and I would arrive minutes before closing time.  It’s doubtful whether any bank or credit union today would be concerned about my lack of cash for the weekend.” 

One member of our co-op, Roger Inman, served CCEC Credit Union loyally and after his death in 1989 a memorial award commemorated his work. The award is given by CCEC annually in recognition of a project that has made a significant contribution to the economic development of the community. And that’s how Roger would have wanted it.  

I first met Roger in 1975 when I moved to Vancouver from Ontario. He had moved from Winnipeg around the same time with his tent in his backpack and had heard about CRS starting the Tunnel Canary cannery. He didn’t know much about co-ops or canning at the time but he was most enthusiastic about the project and his sense of humour helped us to get through some of the hot, labour intensive work of processing fruit and jam. Roger continued to work with the cannery collective until its demise when he turned to another CRS project, Uprising Breads Bakery.

There’s more about Roger and other CRS workers in my book, The Co-op Revolution. I’ll be reading from it at the Vancouver Public Library main branch on Tuesday, April 23 at 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend and books will be for sale. (For more, see: jandegrass.com).

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Read about the history of the co-op movement in the '70's including CCEC!  Jan DeGrass is one of the first 25 members of CCEC.

From Jan on her new book: 
I’m excited to tell you that The Co-op Revolution has just been published by Caitlin Press. My latest book gives an account of my time with CRS Workers’ Co-op in Vancouver during the heady, activist years of the 1970s. Hope you can make it to my book launch in Vancouver. 
Visit the publisher or Jan's website for more information. 
Vancouver Book Launch: VPL Main Branch Tuesday, April 23 at 7 p.m

Excerpt from the book: “We were undercapitalized, inexperienced, practiced democratic decision-making and some of us smoked dope occasionally. All elements that would make us grow as human beings and as business people. We ran a helluva show.”

In the spring of 1975, a free-spirited Jan DeGrass backpacked across Canada in search of adventure and greater meaning in life. When she arrived in Vancouver, she met a group of people committed to social change; together they reimagined the food industry in BC.

In The Co-op Revolution: Vancouver’s Search for Food Alternatives, author and journalist DeGrass writes about her journey as a founding member of the Collective Resource and Services Workers’ Co-op. Bounding to life during the heady, activist, grant-funded years of 1974–1980, the CRS Co-op became one of the most successful co-ops in BC and was committed to co-operation and worker ownership. While the decade of the seventies is remembered for its new wave of co-ops—usually organized by a “free-flowing” collection of women and men in their twenties—CRS was unique in its success. Among its many accolades, it created the Tunnel Canary cannery, the Queenright Co-operative Beekeepers, Vancouver’s popular Uprising Breads Bakery and a food wholesaler, which later became Horizon Distributors. The economic, political and social skyline of Vancouver was changing. For some, the co-op movement was about crushing capitalism; for others it was simply about buying cheap, wholesome food from people they trusted, and living in communal camaraderie. No matter the pursuit, co-operation was the answer.

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Helesia Luke, CCEC Board Member says, "A month ago I started a new job and with it embarked on a learning curve that has been a real eye opener. "  As the new Green Jobs BC Co-ordinator, my first observation is that there is no lack of global leadership on the topic. Labour, environmental and financial leaders are rallying for change and scalable solutions that provide good jobs and reduce carbon emissions. As recently as last week, former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney noted the transition to a green economy is a trillion dollar opportunity for businesses and national economies

In the absence of policy however, citizens in Canada are taking matters into their own hands with grassroots initiatives like Iron and Earth. [ttp://www.ironandearth.org/] I&E is a worker-led group formed by unemployed oil sands workers who recently signed an MOU to build six offshore wind farms in Atlantic Canada.

A new study from Berkeley  is reporting that 500,000 people are now employed in California’s renewable energy sector. The study credits state policy for the remarkable growth in good jobs that lower carbon emissions.  

Imagine what could be accomplished in Canada with effective policies and investment in a green economy. The Green Jobs BC Conference is November 24th and 25th. Come and join the discussion about how BC can transition to green and just economy.

Green Jobs BC is an alliance of labour and environmental groups with a shared vision of an inclusive, sustainable economy that provides good jobs, are socially just, protects the environment and reduces carbon emissions. 

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Credit unions are consumer owned enterprises that represent a fundamental challenge to conventional capital corporations.  Credit unions do not exist to generate profits, but to provide services to member-shareholders.  Recent published documents raise some interesting questions about the future of our credit unions.  

Consolidation and amalgamation over the last thirty years has drastically reduced the number of credit unions in BC (and elsewhere).  In the mid-eighties there was 120, now there are 43.  And the two largest credit unions comprise @50% of the deposits and almost 50% of the memberships in BC. Two papers submitted to the provincial government review of credit union legislation were made public online and provide pointed criticism of the erosion of member democracy in large credit unions. Submissions are public and the papers from Bruce Bachelor and Mark Latham both argue for enhanced democratic practices. Also, governancewatch.ca  provides an excellent overview of difficulties at Coast Capital Credit Union. 

But beyond that, credit union members also own "second tier" enterprises, or are the beneficial owners of these; Central 1, Co-operators Insurance, CUMIS Insurance, etc.  Since credit unions control these businesses, consumer owners rarely consider their stake in them.  But a recent paper from Central 1 provides a great overview, and a discussion of a 'restructuring' of these entities - Future State. But this paper fails to recognize consumer ownership as the key 'uniqueness' of our credit unions.

Over time the radical idea of consumer control has been down played.  More emphasis has been placed upon marketing smarts and service. Indeed, co-operative democratic governance has been under-represented and eroded.  Members are no longer encouraged to take active interest in the affairs of the credit union, unless there is a merger proposal. This is unfortunate, as the price of democracy is vigilance.  Our credit unions not only manage our savings, but also control substantial accrued 'wealth'; retained earnings is an asset held/owned in common by all members. This is community property.  

Our organizations do not 'belong' to the managers and directors. When there are big choices to make members should be consulted. Members must not only think about their own accounts and transactions, we all have a stake in the community organizations that we have jointly created over time and organizations that ought to be looking out for us as we move forward. 

CCEC welcomes input from our members on the evolution of the credit union system and how we may play our part.  Feel free to listen into this podcast with Ross Gentleman and Tammy Lea Meyer. 

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On behalf of the board, we are pleased to announce that Tracey Kliesch will be joining CCEC Credit Union as our General Manager as of May 15, 2016. Tracey is coming to CCEC after more than 12 years at Vancity in both operations and community investment. 

“It’s an honour and pleasure to welcome such a strong advocate for co-ops and community organizations to CCEC,” remarked Tammy Lea Meyer, Co-chair of the Board of Directors. “As a champion of co-operative economics and an active leader in the community, we are extremely pleased to have her take on this leadership role at our credit union.”

Tracey has spent the last five years as a Community Investment Portfolio Manager, where she has focused on building meaningful partnerships with mission-based organizations, as well as managing the Youth Community Advisory Committee and online forum. Outside of her work with Vancity, Tracey teaches Cooperatives and Community Economic Development at BCIT, and has worked internationally to promote and strengthen the cooperative model and help build the cooperative movement.

Ms. Meyer continued, “CCEC stands for Community Congress for Economic Change, and as an agent of change, we promote social justice and economic democracy.  It is clear to us that Tracey shares this commitment.  Her proven managerial skills in the financial service industry and a broad understanding of the social profit sector give us confidence that she will represent the values of our members and member communities.  She is well prepared to take on this leadership role at CCEC.”

“I am very excited and deeply honoured to become CCEC’s next GM and I look forward to stewarding the credit union’s continued success,” said Ms. Kliesch. “I have had the pleasure of serving community members in Squamish, Vancouver, East Vancouver and Burnaby for over 12 years with Vancity and look forward to continuing that work in support of CCEC’s members and community organizations. I look forward to working with the Board, our managers, our union and staff to continue to build an organization that is sustainably successful and true to our founding values. I am proud to take the helm of this local, autonomous and independent credit union that so clearly lives and advocates for cooperative values.”

Ms. Kliesch will be replacing Ross Gentleman who is retiring after leading the credit union for three years, having been an active volunteer and contributor for over 35 years. Although he will be missed as GM, we expect he will continue to volunteer in some capacity.

CCEC Credit Union provides financial services to non-profits, co-ops, social enterprises and progressive small businesses, and to individuals affiliated with these community organizations.  As a community development credit union, CCEC has worked with many projects associated with housing, childcare, health, environmental stewardship, gender equality, and free expression.


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The New Economy – still mostly a concept, lots of people have a different vision for the kind of economic environment we are all moving into.  What was the vision for the Impact Economy Whistler, event held in October attended by CCEC Board Members, Tammy Lee Meyer and Marty Frost?  If there was a common word that could be applied to all the visions that were present, it would be “open” as in “open-source” technology - hardware and software; and “open value networks” as a way of organizing groups of people who choose to work together. 

The people who showed up all saw themselves of members of an emerging economy.  They were computer software and hardware engineers, community developers, co-op advocates.  And if there was a common word that could be applied to all the vision that was present, it would be “open”.  The computer people were all working on developing new generations of computer operating systems, applications, communication protocols and hardware, all open source.  Open Source is a concept applied to developments (computer hardware and software primarily at this point) that have no ownership applied to them.  A piece of open source software, for example, carries no license, no proprietary rights attached to it.  Anyone has a right to download a piece of open source software, modify it and put it back up on line for open sharing.  The same principles are being applied to hardware as well. 

Some of those present were also employing “open value networks” as their form of organization.  No incorporation, no legal “rights of a natural person” applied.  Simply a group of people who choose to work together, share projects, share any resulting revenue that may be produced, well, openly.  A couple of examples that people may wish to check out on line would be Sensorica, in Montreal (www.sensorica.co), or 99% Media, also in Montreal ( www.99media.org). Neither has a legal structure, they are networks of workers who get together on a project-by-project basis, and share facilities, tools and revenue. 

The other significant “group” of people were the community development folks, most of whom are involved with local, non-State currencies.  Among these was BC’s own Michael Linton, founder of the LETS system that some of us will remember from its 40 year or so history in and around the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.  The Mutual Aid Network was represented as well, and profiled for us their highly successful time-banking system they have developed under a co-op umbrella in Madison Wisconsin.  Time-banking is in some ways another form of local currency, certainly a local trading system. (www.mutualaidnetwork.org)

In this video podcast, Michel Bauwens chats with Art Brock, Michael Linton, and Matthew Slater about money and new currencies: accounting systems, "open money", current-sees, exchange in the post-monetary economy, trust, and value exchanges.

Is this to be an aspect of the “New Economy”?  An escape from individual ownership – or any form of ownership at all – into an economic paradigm based on sharing?  If you have a need it will be there for you, if you have something to offer you have ways to offer it, and all free of state-based currency transactions?  To people like me, who has spent most of my life assisting people to work in more sharing – but certainly “legally” structured – forms of economic relationships, it raises all sorts of questions:  how scalable can these organizations be?  How are disputes – those that are now “settled” through the market – be settled?  how would “value” of goods and services be determined?  These are questions that need to be answered as we move forward.  For my part I am thankful that there are people out there who have the passion and nerve to just get out there and do it.  Test these models in the crucible of the capitalist economy in which we live, find the challenges and develop solutions. 

Marty Frost

For more information: 

http://www.impacteconomy.io  and other podcasts  https://soundcloud.com/impact-economy

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The prevalent economic development practice is ineffective, unaffordable and in need of a makeover.  In his book, The Local Economy Solution, Michael Shuman suggests an alternative where cities nurture a new generation of enterprises that help local businesses launch and grow.  These “pollinator businesses,” create jobs and the conditions for economic growth, and are doing so in self-financing ways.

Two years ago, CCEC partnered with like-minded organizations to present a conversation with Michael Shuman speaking to his book, “Local Dollars, Local Sense – How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street”See the blog   So, what's new? 

In his new book, he says, “A growing number of small, private businesses are facilitating local planning and placemaking, nurturing local entrepreneurs, helping local consumers buy local and local investors finance local business."  These functions are performed by “pollinators”.  They are locally-grounded, and succeed by building local support in pursuit of the shared goal of revitalizing the local economy.

Shuman feels that the traditional “economic development” model of chasing after large companies with huge taxpayer subsidy deals is the wrong way to revitalize a crippled or stagnant local economy.  He says, “economic development today is creating almost no new jobs.” 

There is another far more promising path.


At CCEC, your investments and funds give us the capacity to provide business loans to your neighbours who are creating “pollinator businesses”.  Refer friends and co-workers to CCEC.  Think of us when you are buying a home, renovating, going back to school or (fill in the blanks)!


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