Our past newsletter began, “Many changes are afoot in the world. The same is true for EDA.” Little did we know the startling changes that March would bring upon the world.
The focus of last month's newsletter was the reorganization of Economic Democracy Advocates. This remains our guiding light for action. Soon we’ll be calling for our Governing Council of members to join us in decision-making, bringing in strong staff support and strengthening our Action Teams to carry out our mission:
Ensuring the sustainable development and management of vital resources
to meet the basic human needs of current and future generations
through economic democracy
That is an ambitious goal, even under the best of circumstances. And now, in the course of a few short weeks, we find ourselves in a global catastrophe unlike anything we’ve seen before. On every front, people are being challenged to meet their most basic needs under strange circumstances.
At the same time, the enormous scope of this pandemic makes our lives more difficult by orders of magnitude. Those who are already vulnerable in society – without jobs, homes or health insurance – are further stressed by Covid-19 and its vast economic repercussions.
Like many organizations in the United States, EDA is determining how we can best respond to these adversities while staying true to our core purpose. To start with, we are not planning to hold a physical conference in 2020. We will be concentrating our efforts on virtual discussions and events, focusing on education, advocacy intensives and training, even as our research team continues its groundbreaking work on the carrying capacity of bioregions.
EDA’s Action Teams Respond
EDA’s Research Team is the heartbeat behind all our other efforts, measuring resource sufficiency in various areas of the US. Our Education Team provides the dimension of values, developing basic literacy on community resource management, economic democracy and social action. Our Advocacy Team offers training to educate and prepare citizens to speak with their elected representatives in support of legislation that will better the lives of everyone living in their locale.
At the moment, we are exploring ways to collaborate effectively for greater impact by making better use of the virtual world made available to us through our Zoom platform. What does this mean? Webinars. Interactive Advocacy Intensives and Training. Educational videos.
We plan to develop online material for the rest of the year as we expand EDA’s outreach activities with our members, partners and public. We can do all of this without exposing anyone to unsafe health conditions while economizing on our financial resources and minimizing our ecological footprint.
If you have any interest or experience in developing videos, curricula or the production of webinars, we hope you will join us.
Covid-19 Systems and Human Cooperation
Most of us know that a system is a set of organized and interconnected elements that are doing their best to achieve something. That achievement, at its most basic level, is self-sustenance or what we call survival. This is particularly true for biological systems, such as our own human body. Another example is, yes, a virus.
A big difference between a virus and a human system is the human capacity to cooperate, to be in a helpful, sustaining relationship with others. Viruses are intrinsically incapable of doing this. To survive, a virus must attach itself to a host cell, get inside of it, and commandeer its DNA or RNA; it must take over the cell's reproductive machinery. The problem with this survival strategy, of course, is that the host cell ultimately dies because it can no longer cooperate with the system that sustains it. The invader perishes along with the system it has invaded.
The human system, on the other hand, is designed to cooperate, to be in mutually supportive relationships. In our individual bodies, the immune system is continually on guard to contain and expel what is not good for the body. Presently, our bodies are faced with a virus that is both silent and so intensely communicable to fellow human bodies that we, as the Humanity System, must now recognize our full potential to effectively manage this virus by doing what it cannot do.
We all have the capacity to cooperate so that the social systems we have created will continue to function. Being in accountable and supportive relationships with others during social isolation is a highly creative challenge that is training us to engage more deeply and persistently as we strive to advocate for economic democracy.
The epidemiological threat of COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the world’s economies. As people leave their jobs to self-isolate, global supply chains are being impacted, creating disruptions in deliveries and making it hard for stores to fill orders. The effect of quarantines, travel restrictions, restaurant and store closures is driving people away from public places in fear of potential exposure to the virus, resulting in worker pay cuts, layoffs and factory shutdowns. This is leading to lower incomes and rapidly declining consumer demand for non-essential products and services, which is blunting the profits of businesses, large and small.
This sudden decline in economic activity and growth is generating high levels of uncertainty and anxiety. How do we lessen the impact of this downturn on the financial stability and prosperity of households, especially those which are already struggling? The United States’ $2 trillion fiscal stimulus will do little to boost long-term consumption and investment or ignite a new cycle of economic growth. Likewise, the ham-handed efforts of the US Government to eliminate paid sick leave, public health insurance, SNAP and financial relief for hospitals and health care providers are only contributing to the deep slump in productive output, not reversing it.
These problems are structural and will take time to master, yet the solutions must start with the suffering of the poor and marginalized. Here are a few proposals that would provide immediate relief and create a more equitable playing field for everyone.
Why not offer free access to testing and treatment for the coronavirus and protect patients from unexpected bills? Why not forgive the debt of households, including student debt, car loans and credit cards? And what about moratoriums on rent payments? Or an emergency tax on the wealthy to help governments restabilize households and small businesses? And why not provide financial assistance to America's most vulnerable persons, so that they can afford everyday necessities and avoid the dire consequences of financial disaster?
These remedies will not solve everything, but are vital first steps of an integrative plan for a new economy.
What We’re Reading & Watching
How Covid-19 Spreads -- Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which is caused by SARS-COV2, is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.
Why Covid-19 will Become a Way of Life -- Global health expert Alanna Shaikh talks about the current status of the 2019 coronavirus outbreak and what this can teach us about the epidemics yet to come. She is a global health consultant and executive coach who specializes in individual, organizational and systemic resilience.
EDA will be holding a Special Election from April 14 - 20. Two offices are currently open: President and At-Large Trustee. Successful candidates in the upcoming election will serve out the three-year terms (through August 2021) that were begun by the previous officials who resigned. These new persons will then be eligible to run for two more three-year terms.
All members are welcome to submit an application for one of these positions no later than midnight PST on April 8, 2020. Job descriptions can be found under the Active Members thread > Election 2020 > Job Descriptions.
Candidates must be an Active Member of EDA to apply. If you are not already an Active Member and wish to apply, please join through the EDA website, https://economicdemocracyadvocates.org/> Get Involved > Membership > Yes! I Want To Be An Active Member. Applications shall include:
- a CV or resume
- a statement of relevant experiences and/or personal qualifications
- a 500-word or less description, written in the first person, of why the
candidate wants to hold this position
- a headshot
These items should be put in a single document and uploaded to Active Members > Election 2020 > Candidate Submissions on Loomio.
Active Members of EDA have the responsibility to vote in our elections. If you are uncertain whether you are currently an Active Member, please email EDA’s Secretary, Eva Simonsen, at email@example.com.
Additional information on the election process is available in the Active Members > Election 2020 thread on our network platform, Loomio. You can arrange to be emailed whenever there is activity on this thread. To ensure that you don’t miss any communications, please go into the Loomio Active Member thread, select the dropdown menu for ‘Options’ in the top right corner of your screen, select option ‘Email Settings', select ‘All Activity’, and click ‘Update’.
We will be holding a "Get to Know Your Candidates Night" at EDA's Town Hall meeting on Monday, April 13, at 8:00 pm EDT. Individual candidates for EDA's elected positions will have an opportunity to speak directly about their personal qualifications and their objectives for EDA, as well as answer questions from members.
This is a very exciting time for our organization. We hope you will consider joining us. It’s not too late to become an Active Member! And thank you for voting!
Join us for the next CONNECT with EDA
Fridays at 4:00 PM PDT/ 5:00 PM MDT/ 7:00 PM EDT (US and Canada)
On March 20th and 27th, more than 20 EDA Active members held informal discussions that focused on the most challenging issue facing us right now – the Coronavirus.
These conversations gave us the opportunity to share our experiences, talk about our concerns and support each other through this crisis, realizing that we’re all in this together. Yes, we’ve all been quarantined in place, practiced social distancing and wondered how long we have to endure this great change in our lives. No one knows how long this will last, nor the long-term effects it will have on the economy or our ability to protect the vital resources that we need to survive. As days turn into weeks, the isolation and extreme caution are taking their toll on everyone.
EDA’s Cooperative Charter reminds us that the power to make ecological and economic decisions is vested in the hands of local people. The situation we’re in now has forced us to think and act more locally. People everywhere have been coming up with safe and creative ways to engage, problem-solve and support the most impacted individuals in their communities. It’s a time to ask ourselves, what can I do to be of service? We are continuing these themes in our weekly conversations. EDA’s action teams, Research, Education and Advocacy, are also available to answer any questions.
Please join us as we continue these informal Friday discussions
Our themes vary and if there’s anything in particular you’d like to discuss, please post your suggestions on the EDA Active Member website under ACTIVE MEMBERSHIP DISCUSSION. The Zoom call information is also posted there.
EDA and EDA Foundation are asking for financial support from friends and members to help amplify our work and our messaging. As we continue our outreach with new collaborative partners, funds are needed to expand our Research, Education and Advocacy Teams. We also need to develop a new website and increase our online and social media presence.
We're grateful to those of you who have already donated and want to give our special thanks to those who have signed up for regular monthly contributions. Your generosity helps us sustain our work.
All contributions to EDA Foundation are tax-deductible and support research, education and training programs. All contributions to EDA are non-tax-deductible and support our advocacy work with your elected officials.