A collaboration between Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, finds that more inclusive approaches are crucial – and beneficial – as cities cannot become more equal or more economically productive if they exclude the vast majority of their workforce, especially the working poor.
What do these informal workers need to become more productive? Street vendors need public space in good locations to vend. Waste pickers need the right to bid for public procurement contracts to collect, sort and recycle waste. Home-based workers need equitable access to core public services. With these needs met, they can be even more productive and have greater security as they contribute to the city’s economy. In “Including the Excluded,” the authors examine innovative ways some cities have found to work with home-based workers, street vendors and waste pickers that can be replicated around the globe.
Four key recommendations emerge from these examples of positive integration:
- Increase informal workers’ access to public services, public spaces and public procurement. To better harness and encourage economic growth, city governments and local officials should acknowledge the economic contribution informal workers make to the urban economy and reduce harassment and penalization. Cities should provide core public services to informal workers to make their workplaces more productive; grant regulated access to public space; and allow organizations of informal workers to compete for public procurement.
- Reform laws and regulations so they support informal workers. City governments and local officials should make it easier for the informal self-employed to register their businesses, as well as make taxation progressive and transparent, and assess what taxes and operating fees informal workers already pay. And they should extend benefits to workers in exchange for paying taxes.
- Include informal worker leaders in participatory policymaking and rule-setting processes. Cities should integrate informal economy activities into local economic development plans and urban land allocation plans. Informal settlements are often thriving industrial hubs and house many home-based businesses. Cities should also recognize and protect natural markets for vendors, and recognize that waste pickers contribute to cleaning streets, reclaiming recyclables and reducing carbon emissions.
- Support coalitions for change. All of the inclusive approaches highlighted in the paper were brought about by coalitions for change comprised of organizations of informal workers, supported by activist allies. Coalitions for change help monitor and highlight the situation on the ground, create awareness with the media, organize policy dialogues and provide technical assistance to advocacy campaigns.
New York tells itself a story. It goes like this. We are sharp-elbowed bastards who live in filth, surrounded by sewer rats, but with enough chutzpah, drive and determination, any of us can rise high enough to scrape the sky. It’s a myth, of course, and like all myths, it contains a narrow shard of truth. But with each year that shard shrinks, under the weight of gentrification, corporations and police.
As I have long predicted, the alt-right revolution has as much chance to come out of the Midwest as anywhere. Having watched the growing misplaced anger among blue-collared whites in Ohio and surrounding states, it is clear that we need to consider this area even after HRC wins. The undying belief in corporate America and the right to become successful through winning the job lottery is the bedrock of this group of voters (see a couple of quotes from this story at the bottom of this post). And so it cannot be surprising that they have chosen one who has been allowed by the media to become a demigod (word chosen carefully) even though his own record belies the media’s slavish devotion to his myth of coming up by his own bootstraps.
In order for this group to not keep growing, becoming more violent and more opposed to the multicultural reality of the US, it is time for the Dems to truly embrace entrepreneurial activity at the local and regional level. The cultural economy is growing smart and capable local leaders with every type of background and the ecological sector is dreaming up innovative, practical ideas that can offer jobs and reduce the damage we have done to our earth since the start of the Industrial Age. Those areas along with the need to invest in vocational education for every region and in large-scale infrastructure repair should be the plan. Green City Blue Lake is one effort right there in NE Ohio doing excellent work connecting jobs (including cooperatives) to repairing the environment and creating a new economy. That initiative and others are brave enough to make the case that it is time for a post industrial solution for NE Ohio, or at least time for a sustainable future. Much more of that type of effort is needed across the Midwest and in every other region.
Also, those of us in already-emerged disaster zones know how the economy stabilizes for a while when recovery starts, mostly due to federal intervention. Yet that intervention overwhelmingly favors multinational, military industrial complex companies over locally controlled ones which short-circuits real recovery and allows developers to entirely control the agenda as happened in New Orleans. Therefore, the Dems should also create a sector that feeds off the resiliency movement already begun and creates opportunities for workers and small companies to help better prepare our regions for those events that happen in every part of North America. Show up at actions, like today’s Solidarity with Standing Rock events across the US or Wednesday’s anti-TPP social media & email action day.
I used the word revolution earlier, and the appropriate response to that is often devolution. Here in the US, it is time for regions to lead and the Dems would do themselves a big favor if they began that process during this election cycle.
“He also says he thinks Trump will eliminate some of the environmental regulations that have affected industries in the region.” “she said. “I know it’s never going to be the same with General Motors or Packard, but with Donald Trump negotiating on trade, maybe we’ll get some of these jobs back.”
Alison Fensterstock has written an insightful and impressive analysis of one hard-working performer’s legal tangle and how giggers interactions with authority often end up badly for the creative community. How many people were sorry they accepted aid after Katrina or BP later on when they found themselves mired in red tape over it? In this case, as Fensterstock points out, the ebb and flow of funds when a performer begins to hit their moment can be confusing and disorienting and can result in a trip to the courthouse. Why would the authorities feel the need to do any more than fine Freedia for a lack of good accounting? Why require further punishment? One might think that those in authority want to find ways to punish him and others like him who won’t just go put on the white shirt and black pants and bus that table.
Cashauna Hill, the executive director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Center, cautioned that she couldn’t speak directly to the rapper’s case. But “especially for a cash-based economy, the requirement to predict income is incredibly difficult,” she said. “Performers don’t have that kind of set, consistent clear structure.”
Update: Big Freedia gets probation
With the debate over worker classification in the Gig Economy raging, many employers who hire freelancers and contractors live in fear .
“That was the biggest issue: If you create something like this, are companies going to take advantage and coerce people to do it?” says Zaino. “We think they are not going to be able to coerce people above a certain income level. They are not providing a routine service that is a commodity.”
It is also possible there could be considerable political opposition to such a proposal–even if freelancers like it.
With labor market trends pointing to a future in which more people do independent work, governments in the U.S. and other nations are moving toward aggressively reclassifying workers now doing contract work as employees, notes Zaino. “They don’t want to lose that payroll tax,” he says.
Well said. No doubt that the corporations that are doing their best to stifle and own creative sharing need to be called out and dismantled before the movement is reduced to the size of their corporate tentacles. I only hope that innovation for collaboration continues but begins to be built through a local and cooperative model in the future. Why aren’t local activists building their own version of car sharing or homesharing with local controls (read transparency) built in?
It is much like the argument about organic food highlighted by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma: that Big Organic and local organic have very little to do with each other. Labor, land use, relationship to the eater and decision making need to stay as directly managed by visible people and entities as possible to be able to be influenced by their neighbors. The same should be true for technology answers inside of the sharing economy, but just like the new alternative food economy, new regulations and oversight need to be designed so as not to squash local creativity and the collaborative spirit. Government as it stands is not capable of that; let’s re-imagine it and make it creative and humane to reflect the impulse of open source technology and sharing.
What is a book worth? The answer to this question is, like most things, relative… A project called 1010 Ways to Buy Without Money will see stalls ‘selling’ books for a variety of prices, set either by the organizers or by the donors of the books. These might involve taking snacks to the office for colleagues, or creating a photo diary, drawing a self-portrait, or more practically, donating clothes, blood and even organs. The one thing they all have in common is they can’t involve the exchange of money.
The initiative is now entering its fifth year and has spread around the world, with events held from London to Georgia, Madrid to Montevideo and Romania. It is now a participatory project in which anyone can create their own book fair of the same style – the organisers provide materials, information and advice, as long as some guidelines are followed, such as adhering to the no-money approach and creating a Facebook event. This year, in addition to Barcelona, individuals are already organising events in four Brazilian cities, the Californian town of Bishop, the Colombian city of Barranquilla, Montevideo in Uruguay, the Ecuadorian city of Santo Domingo and Ciudad Real, in Spain.
An Reddit interview with Bilal Ghalib, an Iraqi American who travels the world sharing maker culture for positive change, with nadeemtron, CEO of danger!awesome (a makerspace) and dawndanby (a tech-environmentalism maven), discussing their workshop “DIY Sustainability.
“My “thing” is creating inclusive spaces to solve problems, start businesses, and strengthen our communities. There’s a movement happening; and we want to see it go global. I’ve been traveling the world spreading maker love – including Iraq, Lebanon, Berlin, and a bunch of other places.
This January, my friend’s 3d printing/rapid fabrication company danger!awesome brought a new type of hackathon to Boston. Our take on the hackathon was more of a free month-long workshop, which you can see a video about, here and learn a bunch about here, on our diysustainability.org workshop site.
We’ve been experimenting with a new educational principals and format for how maker culture can impact environment and community. Many participants weren’t makers, engineers, or designers; to be inclusive, danger!awesome helped with design, fabrication, and training.
Bilal Ghalib, Artist, Activist and Catalyst
Nadeem Mazen, CEO of danger!awesome
Dawn Danby, Lifelong Sustainable Design Practitioner
What should you ask? Well, anything you want. We’re most passionate about the future of 3D printing, rapid fabrication technology, social justice, helping others create their own DIY Sustainability experience, and our mission to spread high-tech tool/training access to everyone.”
Questions/comments from Reddit:
The movement just needs new terminology. Hackspace and makers? That’s the best we could come up with? Someone disrupt some better words.
What’s wrong with those terms? The only thing I can think of is the media’s incompetence regarding “hack”.
Well I was being a bit cheeky I suppose; a word is just a word. But co-opting a word as general as “make” almost seems to suggest the billions of people making things elsewhere must not be really “making things”. (be it a cake, a painting or otherwise).
Hackspace I probably cringe at for the other reason, it’s jargon that I (or others) don’t fully understand. Does it mean doing something illegal, or unauthorized? Is it good or bad for society?
“Maker” is a bit more field-specific, but I use “hack” to minimise ambiguity. The problem is that so many people think it refers to security/cracking rather than creativity, playfulness, etc.
I love this question and probably will love you.
Since 2009 I’ve been helping people set up hackerspaces around the world and visited more than a hundred. I //know// what you’re talking about. The hope and optimism of the transformation of capitalistic culture into one of creativity, connection and support that comes with growth of these community spaces around the world. It’s interesting to see that in 2009 we saw the start of a fast paced growth of hackerspaces internationally which isn’t slowing down. There’s a reason it happened in the wake of the economic collapse in 2008. I myself just graduating college and not looking forward to trying to get a job, instead I started a makerspace and then a business. Then in 2011 after the arab spring I started GEMSI.org initiative to share this value system with the middle east. Fundamentally the support we can offer each other inspired me more than transformation from the top down. This rearchitecting and redirecting of our efforts away from individualistic capitalism into an off-lining of the open source sharing value system is struggling with a lot of the cultural elements that define success today. Getting series A funding or being the “first” to do something. The IOTification of much of the fun creative fun projects you might have seen for the last 5 years in hackerspaces around the world is one way you can catch the drift of the culture.
Now I have no problem with business. In fact GEMSI (GEMSI.org) stands for the Global Entrepreneurship and Maker Space initiative. I recognize that there are needs and economies work. But the values I was excited to share is the vision that we together create the world around us, the responsibility and engagement of entrepreneurship. But after years of sharing “how” we do things using open source tools, sharing community spaces internationally, I recognize that there is too much tool centrism. The language and frame with which we’ve been attracting people, 3D printing, hackerspaces, open source tools have attracted more attention on the //things// happening. Not the philosophy of support, sharing and openness.
Initially I thought that when we bring hackerspaces to places with challenges we’d see projects coming up that address those that would return to the west and inform how people see how we use those spaces. That happened, but it wasn’t the norm. Often we see spaces cloning the image of success (fire breathing dragons) in hackerspaces from the western world. Since this is a cultural issue and to not be prescriptive I’ve started sharing philosophies and frameworks within the global maker community world.
So basically no, I can’t assure you. But I can promise to you that these questions are high on my list of priorities. One of the ways I’m attempting to change the conversation about what we do in makerspaces is starting the DIYSustainability effort. It’s not mine, I’ve only started to propose a set of principals that can transform the workshops/actions we take in hackerspaces that will direct our efforts into connecting to issues of sustainability. http://www.diysustainability.org/principles-to-explore-for-a-global-diy-sustainability/ The workshop and the videos we produced are ways we’re trying to share stories and practices other spaces can reproduce.
It’s a tough and hairy question which requires people like you asking this question often. Being critical about if we’re actually doing what we’re setting out to do and being honest about it.
There is so much possibility. People are getting in touch with their creativity. My main perspective is that if we focus on the community aspect, learn to work across difference, build close relationships we will start to see a transformation of what happens in these spaces.
Recently I returned to Lebanon’s hackerspace Lamba Labs. https://www.facebook.com/lambalabs and I was really moved to see something. The space has been closed for a year, all the tools went into storage and you might have called it a “failure”. Sadly one of our most active members Raja developed cancer and died. This is his video describing the importance of care in the community space: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6caqvenGUx0 I was hoping to visit him before, but I missed him. I did arrive to see the community get together, visiting his mother helping fill the house and bringing her some comfort. It made me cry. I realized that the thing these hackerspaces build that’s indestructible are relationships. The hackerspace crew is now reforming in the wake of his death inspired by his life. That to me is a beautiful story worth sharing with the rest of the maker world.
I’ll be giving some talks at republica about a concept I call “singing with the universe”. Simply the idea to realize the beauty of our collective actions we must look within and see what we have to offer, look outside to see where we’re being called – feel how we’re motivated to act – and then do.
Read the entire AMA here
“What few pundits seem to notice is that these solo entrepreneurs have created 22.7 million jobs—for themselves. These businesses are a valuable source of income for a lot of Americans at a time when the traditional job market is heading down new paths that are sometimes pretty ugly, even in a recovery. And the digital economy is helping more of them to spring up organically.
I suspect that those in positions of power have little interest in these businesses because they are hard to control and the owners are not as easy to tax as W-2 employees. Neither government nor a big business can own the means of production if it happens to be a 3D printer in your basement or a laptop on your dining room table. It’s the workers—who also happen to be the owners—who do. That is leading to a redistribution of wealth—but not with the usual people in charge.”
Who's Afraid Of The Freelance Economy?.