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EDA NEWSLETTER - DECEMBER 2019
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THIS MONTH IN EDA NEWS
EDA COOPERATIVE CHARTER - The Big Three Principles
FOCUS ON CALIFORNIA - Crisis in the Central Valley
WHAT WE'RE READING & WATCHING - Culture, Capitalism & Climate Change
UNITY IN DIVERSITY - Integrating EDA Teams Toward a Common Goal
– EDA COOPERATIVE CHARTER –
The Big Three Principles

Simmering civil unrest. Bitter debates over political structure. The United States Constitution under assault. With dissent churning on every side, it’s easy to lose sight of what we stand for as a society. In the Holiday spirit of peace and goodwill, we reflect on the Cooperative Charter that EDA adopted in June 2018 at its convention in Philadelphia. The preamble to our charter states these guiding principles:

During the 18th century French Revolution, these precepts were captured in the slogan, liberté, égalité, fraternité. Yet modern democracies continue to face an uphill struggle in adopting these Big Three values. From the dawn of human society, the ideals of freedom and equality have been at odds, if not at war, requiring the catalyst of cooperation to be fully realized. Yet communities and nations have rarely organized themselves around this triad of structural principals to function in a more balanced and dynamic way.

In practical terms, EDA recognizes that the personal freedom to acquire and share knowledge, combined with the equality of values for collective rights, will lead to responsible behavior through social cooperation. Extensive studies and practical experience show that this is an essential driver of social change. To this end, EDA has modeled its Action Council upon this triad of structural principles.

Our Research Team generates primary data on the sustainability of resources in a particular bioregion. Our Education Team defines the equity of these resources for the people who live in this geographic area. Our Advocacy Team uses this information on the sustainability and equity of resources to organize and train citizen groups in support of legislation to address these imbalances. To our knowledge, no other organization has stated these objectives in its governing charter or has developed these capacities. EDA is uniquely designed to practice the economic democracy which it advocates.

– FOCUS ON CALIFORNIA –
Crisis in the Central Valley

The Central Valley of California — the most productive agricultural region in the United States — is verging on a crisis of epic proportions. Spread over 20,000 square miles, this soil-rich region has long been a prolific supplier of grapes, olives, potatoes, stone fruit, Asian vegetables, nuts, citrus, berries, rice, beans, corn, lettuce and tomatoes. This produce is shipped throughout California, the United States and the world, generating $17 billion a year.

But a decade of drought and over-pumping of groundwater for irrigation has impacted this prolific food production. To make things worse, the area’s cropland is subsiding from the collapse of its aquifers and much of the water that is still available is contaminated with pesticides, salts, nitrates and other toxic residue from corroding pipes.

These conditions are escalating economic and social tensions throughout the Central Valley, where the population is expected to reach 6 million next year. Since 90% of the water in the region is used for agriculture, local communities have started to push back on farmers’ use of water to ensure the availability and quality of this vital resource for personal consumption. Complicating the situation, much of this cropland is owned and farmed by large agri-businesses that are beholden to shareholders from outside the region.

If this power struggle over water intensifies and the steady decrease in groundwater causes the area’s growers to fail, the economic impact will be felt far beyond the Central Valley, which supplies 25% of our nation's food. This is why comprehensive research, education and legislative advocacy are vital in managing the distribution of groundwater in this region.

Having developed studies and made extensive contacts in the Bay Area, EDA now intends to examine the self-sufficiency and equity of the resources in California’s Central Valley for the people who live in the region. We hope to recruit new EDA members and partners and to organize advocacy groups throughout the region in support of legislation that addresses these growing deficiencies.

– WHAT WE'RE READING & WATCHING –
Culture, Capitalism & Climate Change

The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives
To start with, we suggest an entertaining TED Talk by Jonathan Haidt. He details the differences between liberals and conservatives on how they view fairness, orientation toward group action, “respect” for authority (a value which he defines as “purity”) and the moral values of freedom from harm. Haidt has done the research to demonstrate that this applies to developed cultures throughout the world. We need to understand these underlying social dynamics to effectively advocate for change.

The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives     Time: 0:18:39

Hello From the Year 2050. We Avoided the Worst of Climate Change — But Everything Is Different
So, let’s imagine that it's 2050, and you’re looking back at how we survived climate change and all of the resource imbalances that EDA had recognized in food, water, and energy in 2019. This article by Bill McKibben, published in TIME Magazine on September 23, 2019, does just that – situates us in 2050 and describes all of the economic and societal adjustments that we made to get to this point. As the article states, we are not yet “healed,” but we’re on a track that will probably achieve long-term survivability for humanity.

Corporations in The Crosshairs: From Reform to Redesign
Allen White provides a fascinating description of the problems that capitalism inflicts on our economies today. Capitalism and its emphasis on growth may have been appropriate up to the time of the mid-20th century. Today, however, it takes 1.7 Earths to provide the resources that the current population under capitalism requires. Although the article can be criticized for leaving answers to others (like us?), it leaves “no stone unturned” about the problem.

My Generation was Supposed to Level America’s Playing Field. Instead, We Rigged it for Ourselves
By Steven Brill, this is another TIME Magazine article from last year that puts a human face on the results of capitalism’s impact on society. It details the effects of income inequality and suggests some approaches for reversing that disparity.

– UNITY IN DIVERSITY –
Integrating EDA Teams Toward a Common Goal

Among the many changes that EDA will be undertaking in 2020 is our management structure. Over the past three years, each of our Action Council teams — Research, Education and Advocacy — were loosely coordinated within the organization. Having autonomy allowed these distinct groups to develop their own identity and build capacity around their chosen projects.

Now that many of these programs have been developed, our support for them must be integrated to ensure smoother functioning and unified support from the rest of the organization. Going forward, EDA’s teams will be working together more closely to serve the strategic objectives of the organization. All projects will be coordinated through the Managing Director and his team in accordance with our new management and business plans.

EDA is also decentralizing its decision-making process, providing members more interaction with the Board of Trustees and Managing Director than before. Measures we are taking include the development of a Code of Conduct and a Policies and Procedures manual; monthly access to individual Team Briefs; expanded use of organizational polling and member ratifications of EDA policy; and volunteer coordination to match the skills of EDA members with the organization’s needs.

As we approach the end of our first three years, we reflect on the amount of growth and experience that has been required to reach this stage of EDA’s development. In this Holiday Season, we are deeply grateful for the generous gifts of time, talent and financial support from our members. We are excited to be unifying our various programs while optimizing the democratic practices within EDA. By embarking on this integrated strategy, we will be able to face the daunting challenges of economic democracy in the 2020s.

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