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Day 21 — The Cleveland Model

On Day 2 I identified evolutionary reconstruction as a means through which we can build new models of the future without fundamentally changing the entire system all at once.

My favorite example of this is the Evergreen Cooperatives of Cleveland. In the 1970s, cities across Northeast Ohio, including my hometown of Youngstown, were ravaged by unemployment as steel mills and manufacturers shut down and laid off thousands of workers.

While various economic development programs have been implemented with various levels of success, the city of Cleveland identified worker cooperatives as a sustainable, effective method of building community wealth. After decades of decentralized community experimentation with the model, the City of Cleveland, along with several other key partners, developed "The Cleveland Model."

The model outlined the development of Evergreen Cooperatives, a collective group of worker-owned cooperatives working in collaboration with key "anchor institutions," including the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, and the City of Cleveland.

The role of Evergreen Cooperatives is to loosely connect and support the individual coops — which include a laundromat, a greenhouse, a solar installation team, and more — in supporting the anchor institutions and building community wealth.

The Cleveland Model is an excellent example of entrepreneurship being used as an iterative, imaginative tool, developed after decades of trial-and-error from the community and still evolving today.