CED and the Social Economy at the Peoples' Social Forum

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Last week, over 5,000 people gathered in Ottawa for the Peoples' Social Forum.  It was billed as a convergence of social movements, with support from a wide range of unions and civil society organizations.  The call for workshops led to over 400 sessions and activities on the program, from arts to Original Peoples rights, sustainable development, international solidarity and participatory democracy. 

For CCEDNet, it was a valuable opportunity to build relationships with the labour movement and civil society groups who share our values of inclusion, diversity and equity.  Keynote speaker Naomi Klein noted that opposition and proposition are like twin strands of DNA – you need both – and community-based economic alternatives are exactly what CCEDNet members have to offer. 

CCEDNet and partners were able to put four workshops on the program.  We wanted to: 

  • introduce community economic development and the social economy to people who weren't familiar with those terms (see the presentation);
  • illustrate success stories of partnerships between unions and communities to improve community finance and investment;
  • share information on how co-ops can solve small and medium enterprise business succession challenges while advancing a more democratic economy;
  • discuss the post-2015 development agenda at the UN and strategies to ensure the social and solidarity economy is included in a future global development plan. 

CCEDNet Executive Director Mike Toye presents on CED and the Social Economy at the Peoples' Social Forum

We also hosted a social economy movement assembly that allowed participants to self-organize around their areas of interest and identify actions to advance the social economy in their community or sector of activity. 

Our report to the closing Peoples' Assembly on Sunday morning reaffirmed the commitment of participants in the movement assembly to collaborate in building the social economy and laid out five priority areas for action. 

The Peoples' Social Forum closed with a call to action for a unified social movement to rebuild a healthy democracy and align efforts towards another system, not based on oppression and exploitation, but on an economy valuing life and the well-being of people and the earth. 

That's something CED and the social economy can help with. 

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Michael Toye is the Executive Director of the Canadian CED Network, having worked in various other capacities with CCEDNet since 2000. Michael has also taught courses on CED and social enterprise at Concordia University and has written a number of articles and other publications on CED and the social economy, including co-editing the book, Community Economic Development: Building for Social Change.

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