UC Community Economies Network
The initial focus of our group is on transforming the institutions that we interact with every day. The widespread campus sustainability and divest-invest movements occurring on campuses across the nation, have done excellent work articulating what higher education should move away from. We want to define what colleges and universities should move towards. We want to address what comes after divestment by combining critical and constructive thinking in equal measure.
Moving the UC toward community-centered wealth building will require a way to share information, innovation, and experiences across the system. It will require coordinated advocacy. It will require trust. In short, it will require a network of individuals and organizations who share a set of values and a vision for the state’s future.
Questions a community economies network can grapple with include the following:
- how to apply lessons from campus housing cooperatives to state housing needs;
- how UC purchasing decisions can best support local businesses;
- the role of UC-campuses in starting and supporting worker cooperatives;
- how UC campus sustainability initiatives can impact food, energy, and zero-waste policies in surrounding communities;
- how to use UC financial investments to support more just and sustainable communities;
- how to mobilize UC arts and humanities to imagine positive economic futures;
- how to educate and mentor undergraduates about participation in community economies once they graduate;
- how the University of California can be a 21st century anchor institution.
Potential forums for action and reflection include community-based learning classes, field trips, open houses, action research projects, community-based planning and design, training of campus organizers, volunteer days, potlucks, and protests.
The exact form and function of such a network needs to emerge from the collaboration of those leaders who choose to participate. The focus of our group is not on prescriptive planning but on providing a space, structure, and tools for co-creation. The structure we currently envision has three parts:
Campus organizing - Our campus representatives will serve as points of contact for students, staff, faculty, administrators, and community partners with interest and ideas about how to leverage the UC’s position as an anchor institution to build community wealth.
Statewide convenings - Bringing people together to share their experiences and build a sense of community and common purpose will be essential for the UC Community Economies Network to thrive.
Advisory council - To prevent a UC network from becoming insular and disconnected from the frontline communities, we plan to recruit a diverse circle of advisors who can help us with planning, policy, and strategic planning.
Read more about our efforts to form a UC Community Economies Network below: