Dear friends, cooperators, and supporters,
Maybe you, like me, have felt discouraged about the state of our economy, and the imbalance of political and economic power in the U.S. today. It was this feeling of discouragement and frustration that initially set me on a path to look for concrete, accessible alternatives.
A friend suggested that my partner Mark Dworkin and I learn more about the Mondragon cooperatives, in the Basque country of Spain; when we did, we were moved and inspired. We knew we wanted to do something to spread the word about this successful model of worker-ownership and its potential to change the culture of work—not just in Spain but around the world. We learned that there are hundreds of thriving cooperatives and worker-owned enterprises right here in North America, but that their stories are seldom told. Because Mark and I are filmmakers by profession, we felt that we could help tell those stories, and in doing so help others envision and implement a new economic democracy. We decided to make a film about it.
We are now in the final phases of completing that film, Shift Change: Putting Democracy to Work. It is a project that has been equally grueling and exhilarating; sobering and uplifting; exhausting and encouraging. I’ve been very impressed by the examples I’ve seen of democratically run enterprises in Mondragon and in the U.S. These organizations operate in all sectors—engineering, baking, green house-cleaning, fair-trade food, home healthcare, pharmacies, cab companies, breweries…. They paint a new picture of “work,” creatively and equitably re-imagined.
I know that these stories will change the way that many people think. I believe that the visions of success we are presenting in Shift Change will mobilize people to seek new possibilities in their own workplaces, businesses, communities, and lives.
Like so many of the stories featured in the film, Shift Change itself is a cooperative effort. With your help, we’ll finish the project and show that it is possible to have a successful business where employees have a stake and a say; where decisions are made in a way that benefits local communities and without huge hierarchies and disparities of salary. Employee owned and managed enterprises are not the only solution to many of the difficulties we face, but they demonstrate that it is possible to make a difference, and to contribute toward a society with more equality and fairness—a society of which I will be proud to be a part.
We hope you will let us know about your work and your dreams, and that you’ll help us bring this film to light. Please take a look at our online funding campaign on the website Kickstarter to learn more, leave a comment, and make a contribution: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1287935035/shift-change-putting-democracy-to-work.
Thanks for your help,