We were still grappling with the effects of the unprecedented bushfire season and the growing public awareness of what our new realities might be in a climate-changed world, before Covid19 dominated our every conversation and thought. Now, we are still struggling to understand and deal with the very real economic impacts on our communities, cooperatives and membership.
There are lifetimes, generations, of work ahead of us to repair what has been broken. When we are out of the immediate medical emergency, we must resist being plunged straight back to pressing the pedal to the metal of an accelerating climate crisis (which has not gone away).
We must start to plan now for the future, for distribution of ownership, for public health as a shared commons, for a focus on care at the heart of the economy.
The EarthWorker Cooperative project has from its inception sought to step back and see that crises (to name a few more recent ones) in recycling, ecosystem collapse (bushfires, dying rivers), aged care, privatisations of public goods, are interconnected and require of us new ways of living, working and relating to the world and each other.
If you would like to donate to Earthworker Cooperative you can do so here. Any donations are really appreciated!
If you are not already a member of Earthworker Cooperative you can sign up here and be actively involved in the just-transition to a cleaner and fairer economy. Any questions about membership do please get in touch by replying to this email.
So what’s happening in each of the Co-ops?
Here’s an update, as well as information on how you can support or get involved in each one:
Earthworker Energy Manufacturing Cooperative (EEMC) - The Earthworker Energy factory is still operating, producing ‘Made in Morwell’ solar hot water products, with worker-members taking extra hygiene and social distancing precautions. We’ve always believed in the importance of being able to manufacture things we need here, and the COVID-19 crisis is highlighting the importance of this.
Though we are still in production, the pandemic has understandably led to a reduction in sales inquiries, meaning we now more than ever need your support. The powerful potential for Government procurement of locally-made efficient hot water systems into public and low-income housing - particularly heading into winter - has never been more obvious.
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Redgum Cleaning Cooperative - Redgum Cleaning Cooperative has had to put a pause on cleaning at this time. It was a very hard decision, but given the circumstances and the available resources we felt we couldn’t continue in a way that was responsible for both public and member health. Members are assessing options and working together to help each other. We are very determined to find creative ways of getting through this crisis and coming out the other side stronger. Redgum workers ARE the cooperative and any support for small businesses or wage subsidies from the government will be used to the benefit of the workers.
If you are interested in engaging Redgum’s services when they recommence work, please get in touch!
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Hope Cooperative - HOPE Co-op is focussing its energy on responding to the extreme risk that the COVID19 crisis brings for its members. The divisive and punitive policies of the current government have been demonstrated in action again, excluding people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary visas from all COVID19 income supports. The sense of abandonment and discrimination that many are feeling risks undoing the years of hard work that we and many people- including people seeking asylum themselves - have done to build cross-cultural connections, collaboration and social cohesion.
We need your help to support our members and prevent them from being completely destitute. There are families among them, and they literally have no income, and few if any family networks in Australia.
If you have work, please consider giving one hour's pay a week or a month to the Living Support Fund. It has been a collaborative effort of the Youthplus Foundation and HOPE Co-Op, to help people through university. Now, this fund is under huge pressure to help people survive.
Thanks for your solidarity.
Or Donate via Bank Transfer:
BSB - 064786
Acc - 523030100
Reference - LSF
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Co-operative Power - Earthworker and Friends of the Earth Melbourne are proud co-founders of this new cooperative electricity retailer, which aims to help take the power back of our electricity system for people and planet. CoPower is now offering electricity to Earthworker and Friends of the Earth Melbourne members around Australia!
“As a small co-operative, the biggest difference we can make it to give everything we have. So given the unprecedented times we're all currently experiencing, we have decided to forego all of our revenue for 12 months from 1 April 2020. Instead, we will pass this revenue directly back to those who need it most both domestically and internationally. Anyone who signs onto Energy Locals through CoPower and stays with us will be eligible to participate in our solidarity program. It's a way of offering solidarity at a physical distance to help get everyone through this.”
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Powering Melbourne Cooperative Steering Committee - The current Covid-19 crisis provides the opportunity for the Committee to propose this centralised cooperatively owned utilities concept to the Victorian government. An intervention that is proposed by the Committee could fund valuable socially and environmentally conscious long term jobs for Victorians. The Committee is working on the business case for the broader cooperative in preparation for approaching the Government.
Earthworker is a proud member of Friends of the Earth Australia. Sign up for regular Earthworker newsletters here.
Whilst you are here, please make a tax deductible donation. Friends of the Earth relies on donations from people like you to keep running campaigns for social and environmental justice.