A Year After Sandy, a Co-op Alliance Could Bring Jobs Back to the Rockaways


One year ago, when Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast of the United States with its high tides and 900-mile winds, it hit communities in 24 states. Damage estimates range from $50 billion to $68 billion. In New York, loss estimates exceed $19 billion with no areas harder hit than that spit of land south of Brooklyn known as The Rockaways.

"If we want a society that looks the way the people want, you should give the people control," Brendan Martin of the Working World told GRITtv. (Working World is the same group that helped the New Era Windows cooperative.)

In early 2012, the collaboration resulted in Worker Owned Rockaway Cooperatives (W.O.R.C.), a training and incubation program with the goal of creating living-wage jobs in the local economy.
Rockaway resident Virginia Deer, who is part of the program, told GRITtv, “A lot of the jobs that are available and that are coming into the neighborhood are mostly minimum-wage jobs. This is an opportunity that can build some sort of wealth in the community and keep it here.”

The worker-owned businesses that went through W.O.R.C.’s 12-week training along with Deer’s cooperative grocery include a bakery, a health food store, a construction company, a restaurant, and an entertainment collective. To date, two have gotten off of the ground and one is in the process of becoming a viable business. The other two might never be realized.

In the world of building worker co-ops this is actually a positive outcome. The program has opened up an even bigger conversation in the community.
Watch the full story, this week on GRITtv. And for more on learning from Hurricane Katrina, watch this warning from NOLA activist Saket Soni.

This story was produced by GRITtv with Laura Flanders. Laura is the 2013 Local Economies Reporting Fellow for YES! Magazine’s Commonomics project in collaboration with GRITtv.
Read More:

Occupy Sandy Funds Growth of Worker-Owned Co-Ops
Welcome to Commonomics: How to Build Local Economies Strong Enough for Everyone
In Hurricane Sandy Relief, a Reminder of Occupy’s Original Spirit

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