A prayer for the work of the caisse populaire and other similar
Sacred Heart of
Jesus, I beg of You the special grace of Your divine light.
If I am making a
mistake, enlighten me, and inspire in my a strong aversion, a great
dislike for the idea that I would pursue and which is the aim of my
May I repel it with
a sort of scorn, if it is Your good pleasure and make it disappear
from my mind. If I should never think about it again from this moment
I would be a thousand times happy.
Remove from my
heart all false vanity, all impractical desire, all chimeras and
If You wish that I
persevere in this way, oh my God, fill my weakness with your
strength; clear away the obstacles or give me the means to surmount
In this case as in
the other give me the most perfect resignation to your holy will.
May your purpose be
mine, may your desires be as commands to me.
Deign, oh Jesus, to
direct, to inspire my activities toward whatsoever be the end of your
eternal purposes; bring it about that I may find perfect harmony with
your will in the hearts of those who follow me, but especially in the
heart of my wife, the beloved companion of my life.
That she should
always be my consolation and my help, whether you inspire me to the
complete abandonment of these projects or to the thought of
accomplishing them. Amen.
—Alphonse Desjardins, quoted in George Boyle, The Poor Man’s Prayer: The Story of Credit Union Beginnings (Harper & Brothers, 1951), pp. 203-204
Another thing: I’ve started a lab. I was terrible at chemistry, and
we don’t even have a physical space for our beakers, but together with a
growing group of grad students at CU Boulder, I’ve assembled the Media Enterprise Design Lab
to advance the cause of community-owned and -governed media economies.
We’re doing research, experimentation, and consulting (including for
Action Network, the platform that sent you this email). It’s fun, even
if we only sort of know what we’re doing so far.
But at least we have a podcast—which is also a radio show on KGNU community radio. It’s called Looks Like New: Conversations on Tech and Justice. The latest guest was my hero and friend Douglas Rushkoff. You can get it here.
We’re cooperativizing Colorado
So much is happening up here in mountain-land! A few weeks ago, the Denver Postfeatured my book, Everything for Everyone,
as part of an article on the long tradition of cooperative enterprise
in the state. Then, a few weeks later—in part as an outgrowth of a conference I co-organized at the university last November—Governor Jared Polis announced a new initiative for expanding employee ownership across the state. This is huge.
Give the gift of possibility. My new book, Everything for Everyone,
tells how the tradition of cooperative enterprise has shaped the better
parts of our world and poses a radical challenge to the forces eroding
democracy around the globe today. Since it came out in September, it has
been featured in places like Fast Company, WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, and Democracy Now. In times when democracy is under attack, it shows how the seeds of a deeper, fuller democracy are scattered all around us.
“It is a book for everyone and a book for our times: read it, share
it, but don’t just talk about it.”—Robin D. G. Kelley,
author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
“Charting a wealth of renewable ideas, tools, and commitments that
are poised to reinvent democracy, Schneider tackles an immense subject
with precision and grace.”—Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough and This Changes Everything
If you want to support the new cooperative movement more directly, also, consider a year-end donation to the New Economy Coalition and its members organizations.
Writing the book left me with a wealth of unanswered questions, and
lately I’ve been putting a lot of my energy into research projects that
try to address them. Here are some of the papers I’ve been hacking on:
A slide-deck I’ve been using around Everything for Everyone, which summarizes some of the major parts of the book. Some of them. It has two dimensions; advance with spacebar. See below or here for full-screen.
Preorder your copy. Find a list of places where you
can get it—online and off, evil and
Post a review. Once you’ve read it, be honest. Or
just be nice! Do this anywhere, but especially on your favorite
monopolistic everything-store. This is really one of the best ways to
help new readers find a book they otherwise might not.
Come to an event. I wish I could go everywhere, but
I’m also grateful for the childcare and teaching that will keep me home
in Colorado most of the fall. I hope to see you (and the people you
share these with) at one of the launch events:
In advance of the meeting tomorrow, I would like to write in support of moving forward on expanding our city-owned broadband resources. Several years of research on municipal and other community-based broadband solutions has made clear to me that communities need to take an active role in ensuring that their internet access is accessible, affordable, and neutral. Although our situation is different from neighbors like Ft. Collins and Longmont, I believe Boulder is in a position to be a national innovator on community broadband.
Having gotten to know the city staff members involved in this effort, I’ve been very impressed with the rigor and thoughtfulness that has gone into the process. Boulder will most likely not be in a position to deliver fiber-to-the-home without a municipal energy utility, but I think starting now with a backbone buildout would create the following opportunities:
+ Faster, more affordable service. Over and over around the country, we see that the large ISPs will not provide fast, affordable service without being somehow compelled to do so. A city-operated backbone could enable new competitors to enter the market and raise the bar for all. This will help strengthen our already vibrant tech business community and benefit consumers.
+ Opportunities for serving the underserved. Troubling, often disguised inequalities plague the country’s connectivity map, and Boulder is no exception. We already have good evidence that lower-income neighborhoods receive far poorer access opportunities than others. Recognizing this, the school district has been developing programs to use civic networks to serve underserved students. Expanding the city’s backbone would allow us to extend such services and ensure that all of our neighbors have affordable connectivity. We can show other communities what it looks like to treat internet access as the essential infrastructure that it is.
+ Leverage for fairness and neutrality. Today, as I write, net neutrality has officially been repealed on the national level. This is a development that could change the meaning of internet access in fundamental ways. It’s now up to local jurisdictions to protect their citizens’s rights of speech and access. Here, again, Boulder can be a leader. A city-owned backbone network could give the city leverage to negotiate arrangements with ISPs that ensure we are a net neutrality zone. This is an issue of concern to many people in town, and while it could be a difficult fight, it would be a fight your constituents would surely support.
In a sense, it is fitting that your decision to proceed with the broadband expansion comes the day after our federal government significantly relinquishes its regulatory powers over internet service. Tomorrow, we have the opportunity to step up and fill the void. Thank you for your consideration and your attention to this important matter.
I apologize because I’m entering this promotional phase. I’ll be reaching out again asking you to help, if you’re so moved. But I don’t apologize about that, really, because the book shares stories that I believe need to be known—stories of the promise and struggle in the new generation of the cooperative movement. At a time when democracy is on the rocks, when the economy seems to run on a mix of autopilot and superheroes, we need these reminders that cooperation has helped build our world and can shape its future.
Learn more here. Retweet this. Maybe even place a preorder. Let me know if you’d like to publish a review or interview, or to schedule an event. Together, let’s help bring this radical tradition back to life.
In the meantime, there are powers-that-be to troll. Here are some recent publications of mine more or less in that vein:
This month I have a new title—I’m an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, on tenure track. It’s not fully clear to me how this departure from the precariat happened, except that it involved a move across the country with my family, astonishingly supportive colleagues, patient students, and an opportunity to do some good that I hope I can live up to.
All this has gotten me reading about the origins of universities in self-governing medieval guilds and remembering my grandfathers—one a state-university professor and one who never made it to college because of a hail storm.
I’ve also been getting kind of worked up lately about the potential for co-op and municipal broadband, especially in the wake of the FCC net neutrality decision. I’ve been writing on this for Quartz and The Guardian, and my congressman, Rep. Jared Polis, had me on a webinar to discuss it. Scientific Americanquoted me on the subject, too.
More to come. I’m currently (or currently should be) hard at work on edits for my next book, which will be out in time for Co-op Month from Nation Books.
Hi there! We’re just a few weeks away from the third #platformcoop conference at The New School in New York—a celebration and strategy session for a truly democratic internet. It’s called The People’s Disruption, and it runs all day November 10 and 11.
Douglas Rushkoff, author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus
Learn about the Friday event here, and register for the full conference here. A million thanks to my co-organizers, Camille Kerr, Trebor Scholz, and Palak Shah.
Study and hone
I’m now in my third year of helping to create CU Boulder’s MA in Media and Public Engagement. I haven’t talked about it much, mostly because of the busyness of doing it, but now I feel like I should. My colleagues and I have worked hard to create a space where creators of diverse backgrounds can come and study together the crafts of media and social change—activists, social entrepreneurs, narrative hackers, solutions journalists, future academics who want to get their hands dirty, and more.
Maybe this is something you need. Maybe it’s something your community needs. We need you.
Please consider sharing this program with anyone you think might be interested. Let me know if you have questions. The application deadline for this year is January 10. It’s a lot of time and it isn’t.
Want to help bring democracy to the internet? On the heels of the successful platform co-op conference in Toronto, I’m now working with a mighty team of collaborators to organize November’s conference in New York, The People’s Disruption. It’s all about connecting the resources of the present with ambitious visions of a cooperative future online, featuring speakers from #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza to venture capitalist Brad Burnham. I hope you can join us! Space isn’t infinite! Register today (and retweet this).