New Civilization News: NCN: Should It Be Worker Owned? or is it already?    
 NCN: Should It Be Worker Owned? or is it already?14 comments
picture3 May 2006 @ 19:49, by Richard Carlson

The flowers in the breeze are swaying, swaying,
The whole world is out a-Maying.

---Genevieve Mary Irons

Somehow---I [Jakuso Kwong] didn't drop it---the teacup, a temple treasure, dropped itself. You know how those things go? You're positive you didn't drop it, but somehow the teacup left the table. And I missed it and it fell on the floor and broke! And I felt SO bad. And then Katagiri Roshi went, "Oh ooooooh." And the Suzuki Roshi went "ooooooh, ooooooh, ooooh, ooh, oh." Then my mind started working. I could glue it back together! But Suzuki Roshi came over and we picked up the pieces. And he took the pieces and he stuffed them into the garbage so deep that even my mind couldn't get to them.

---"Dropped" Zen

All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.

---James Thurber

Messenger photos by John Halley
Slicing and wrapping bread at Crumb’s Bakery in Athens are, from left, Jeroch Carlson, Jen Strecker and Lisa Trocchia- Balkits. The bakery is marking its 20th year as a worker- owned business.

Our Webmaster, Flemming Funch, tries to make clear that each Log is "owned" by the member who sets it up and writes here. I thought maybe this was some kind of legal device to divert libel lawsuits or something---which probably wouldn't hold up in court---but I think people here really are interested in ownership and money exchange and what that all means. The meaning and value of work, which is the root of it all, doesn't get discussed so much. I send Ming money at least once a year, which I consider a kind of rent...but actually is a contribution for the upkeep of the site. I pay other sites too for maintaining what I create there. Seems like a fair exchange---and there's no (visible) government intervention or regulation. But should NCN take the next step?

Here's an example of what can be done by member-operation in any sort of common initiative. My son is very happy with the organizational role into which he has evolved during the past few years at Crumb's. There are many such experiments in this community, and a major reason so many people move here.

The Athens Messenger
A community climate
Crumb’s celebrates 20 years as worker-owned
Matt Gallagher
Messenger staff writer
Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Getting up to bake before the sun rises is a labor love, and workers at Crumb’s Bakery in Athens have been doing it for many years. This year, the bakery is marking its 20th year as a worker-owned business.

The bakery had its struggles and growths, its early morning frustrations and baker meditations. But being worker-owned instills a sense of community and ownership among the workers, and a sense of fulfillment that eases the tension of the early morning alarm clock.

“Being worker-owned creates a sense of cooperation that leaves room for a whole range of personality types,” said Jeremy Bowman, who has been a Crumb’s worker-owner for more than 10 years.

“Things can get grueling and the work can be arduous, but it’s labor that we love. If the bosses are in the trenches working just as hard as anyone else, there’s this sense of ownership that develops, a pride in what we do.”

The bakery is run by a board of directors made up of employees who work at least 20 hours a week. Everything is done by consensus, and everything gets done through cooperation and collaboration.

The bakery was formerly owned by Steve Koch on a much smaller scale. When he learned he was going to be a father, Koch approached the Worker Owned Network to see what it would take to make the bakery a worker-owned business, according to Charlie Moseley, one of the founders of Crumb’s.

The Worker Owned Network — which is now the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks — negotiated the purchase of the bakery and helped train workers to manage the business and take over its operations.

The Worker Owner Network helped Casa Nueva become a worker-owned business in 1985, and also helped start several other worker-owned businesses that failed to stand the tides of time. Casa Nueva and Crumb’s are the only local worker-owned businesses to survive.

Crumb’s quickly grew, and its five worker-owners expanded to 16, tripling its production that was then sold in health food stores throughout Ohio and surrounding states.

“We made the decision we wanted to be a respected bakery and increase our business,” Moseley said. “You don’t get a lot of administrative talent with people who are underemployed, and we needed a lot of guidance. We were trained for six weeks and then had to do it all ourselves, everything from marketing to production to sales. And we did everything on a consensus basis.”

Like all new adventures, there was a certain amount of risk involved. Not only did the worker-owners have a profit-sharing agreement, they also agreed to share any losses.


Although Crumb’s Bakery started as a bread business, it now bakes a variety of goodies.

[link]
Copyright © 2006 The Athens Messenger, Brown Publishing Company


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14 comments

3 May 2006 @ 20:05 by scotty : should NCN take the next step?
heh heh heh you make it sound like an entity !!
um - doesn't something strike you a bit strange in that it you asking the membership what the next step for NCN should be ?
( I'd understand it if you said something like hey folks I've got some ideas as to how I'd like to see a site like NCN be ... and throw it open to discussion )  



3 May 2006 @ 20:06 by vaxen : Nice advert...
for Crumbs but NCN? Perhaps you should develop and discuss this idea, by itself, more fully. I should think that a thorough study of the Federal Reserve Fractional Banking Fraud (System) based totally on ''debt'' would be more expedient than...

Good old fractional reserve banking. Even the fraction there is a total fraud! There is NO MONEY in the UNITED STATES. That'll go over big...

But I digress. Please continue...  



3 May 2006 @ 23:15 by jmarc : sounds like communism
the pastry looks good though.

[link]

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

I don't think they make croissants for fear of being banned in New Hampshire: too French and too Arabic at the same time!



---jazz  



4 May 2006 @ 08:39 by jazzolog : Some Bling For Ming
Well yes vax, I confess to the proud papa's desire to preserve his son's picture on the front page of the local newspaper. But Scotty, in a way NCN is an entity...and there's my motive in bringing the site into this. I don't know of any active member here in the "Open Area"---or of anyone in the Behind-the-Scenes Area---who knows the mechanics of how things run. If Ming travels---and doesn't have the oomph on his laptop---the site has to wait if there's an emergency. What if he becomes ill or otherwise incapacitated? I'm sure I'll croak before he does...but eventually we all dissolve into the Great Light.

In any organization where so much depends on one person, eventually talk must come of a successor. Ming may have people already who step in and could take over someday. Does anybody know? Since I don't and I put a bit of time and effort into this Log, I maintain a backup at another site---which I believe is incorporated and has a group of people who care for our needs.

There are 10,341 members. Only half of them EVER have logged in here. I have no idea what benefits those other people derive from joining. Maybe there is a safety net of which I'm simply ignorant. This is my way of asking...and also suggesting perhaps of group of involved members might volunteer for different aspects of maintenance and operation.  



4 May 2006 @ 09:56 by rayon : The most creative
art always fulfills two things at least, simultaneously. This piece does so gloriously. Hope it gets deserved attention. Jazzolog: first concern, the baked goods fresh, not frozen intermediately which most bread goods nowadays are, and extremely bad for one. It would appear, if the bakers work overnight, that the doughs are being prepared freshly for the oven. Food prep and cooking is considered to be a holy action, conferring grace(*) upon the participants, done freshly that goodness of the people working actually goes into the baked items. Similar to home baking. (I believe this would show up on the scientists new methods for measuring HAPPINESS, which they now put down to increased blood flow to certain brain centres together with extra minute electrical impulses). Neatly tying in with all the yogic knowhow.

Second, the analogy to the maintenance of this site certainly makes me think, as I have no back up system. Niether do I operate a computer worth writing about, only dream of an Apple. Have always been nervous of investing in soon to be obselete technology. However, I for one, am quite interested in any outcome here, and can offer to be listed as such, if required. Thank you Jazzolog.

####################################################

Jeroch's mother is on a wheat-free diet now. (She does them all.) Fortunately, he understands.

---Jazzolog  



7 May 2006 @ 12:26 by jazzolog : Are There Any Workers?
Probably this thread is off the spool...at least in terms of NCN. The creation of worker-owned networks and businesses in the US is thriving and well. But NCN limps along from day to day without much life or input. Of the last 40 personal log entries, all of them interesting, carefully constructed, and written within the last week, exactly 14, or 35%, have received any comment from members or visitors as of this moment. (That doesn't mean people haven't been reading them of course.) I mentioned above how many members have bothered to log into the site even once. The graph on the Activity page shows not much has been going on during the same period. The site needs revitalization if it is to survive beyond the whim of the current actual owners...whoever they are. I believe the fact is nobody really cares if the URL gets clicked one day and there's nothing here. If I'm right it is a sad commentary on the work necessary for New Civilization.  


7 May 2006 @ 15:12 by martha : I AGREE
it is a sad commentary on the work necessary for a New civilization.

One could give all sorts of excuses as to why NCN is fading away. Lack of respect for oneself, others and the world is the main reason along with no role model to follow that is not disfunctional. The level of abuse at NCN has gone on way tooo long and as a result the furtile ground that ming originally provided has become toxic. Nothing has changed much since I came here.

With that said I still do have a vague hope that enough like minded people can come together to create a new model based on respect and honest communication. Or maybe because of the impersonal nature of the interent that might never happen. On the internet most people have the idea that they do not have to be accountable for their actions which creates an energy of mistrust. Trust is the foundation and most people aren't interested in that.

We have talked about this subject many times Jazz and it just goes round and round.

i DO appreciate your above comment and DO think it is very important and needs to be discussed further here at NCN.  



7 May 2006 @ 16:46 by ming : Worker Owned
Hm, yes, it is an interesting thought how NCN would look if it were a worker owned cooperative. Like, would there a basis for doing that with who's hanging around at this point?

I would sort of guess that "worker owned" operations that work do so based on a certain shared philosophy, a certain tone that somebody has set at some point, which is continued, and which also evolves. However much I'd like complete self-organization to work, it usually doesn't. It works if somebody, an individual or small group, has outlined some objectives and a philosophy, and then it takes a life of its own, and becomes self-managing. Because it manages to become an entity, which works even as different people come and go.

Whether there's hope that NCN can be that, I don't know. Maybe if somebody puts together a coherent enough vision and plan for what it would look like, and what it should do.

Which at some point would have been my job. Maybe it still is, or maybe I'd be in the way, I don't know.  



8 May 2006 @ 10:03 by jazzolog : For What It's Worth: To Ming
There's little need to guess about the nature of worker owned networks. The article that is the basis of this entry mentions the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks. (Notice the word "network"!) A nice description of ACEnet is here [link] along with a link to the ACEnet site. A fine paper entitled Building Smart Communities Through Network Weaving, which features the story of ACEnet's success, is this pdf file [link] . The model for ACEnet, as you can learn at any of those links, is Mondragon, an economic network in the Basque community just a few kilometers from Toulouse. You can drive over and get involved. Obviously the Internet is full of information about this approach to a Network, and clearly you know more about it than I do. But this is not the time for a history lesson about networks, NCN, and why some fail and some succeed.

It has not been easy for ACEnet to continue in Ohio through this Bush regime, because funding projects out in the hinterland is exactly what it is about. Their own funding sources, which you can see at their site, involves a stew of private foundations and government support. Obviously the government grants have been gobbled by the big money operations that rule America now. I think there have been changes there...but adaptability is what a thriving Network is about. It is not about sitting around thinking up why we can't do something or shuffling people off to write more proposals. It's about actually doing and creating things. Please observe the organization of ACEnet and other networks involves an open and transparent group of individuals. A site may be webmastered by a single person, but that guy is accountable...and not the end-all of the Network. Who owns NCN, and what is the funding source...besides a few small contributions? What kind of grant facilities are offered to the many folks who join NCN with obvious business needs? What do we do to provide similar help to what ACEnet does in Appalachia?  



10 May 2006 @ 08:57 by jazzolog : Mingman's Comment
I'm not sure totally what Bushman is getting at here. Is he implying worker owned business is a tool of the Illuminati? Is a network like ACEnet the cover for a conspiracy to enslave freewill individualists? Or does his comment attempt to answer an ongoing question of mine: who owns NCN and who are their henchmen here at the site?  


20 May 2007 @ 16:26 by pam @76.211.31.145 : Jen Strecker
How can I get in touch with Jen Strecker. We met at shows years ago and I wanted to catch up with her. (Jen, I'm the one that was doing the master's thesis on the jamband scene - still working on a dissertation at Kent State!) Contact me! Pam  


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