05 Jan

Happy New Year! Our staff, board, and volunteers at Cleveland Owns have a lot to be thankful for in 2022, and even more to look forward to in 2023. Here’s a preview of how we’re building economic democracy in the new year.

To start, contributions from Cleveland Owns supporters like you make all this work possible. Please consider making a one-time or recurring monthly donationThank you!

Hire an Energy Democracy Organizer to build community-owned solar. We need community ownership of solar in Cleveland so our friend and board member Deborah and her neighbors in Hough have a say in how the transition to a clean energy economy happens – and so they profit when that transition is successful. Applications for the Energy Democracy Organizer position, which pays $45,000 for a one-year contract, are open until January 16th. Please please forward this job description to interested folks!

Introduce legislation to create a People’s Budget in Cleveland! Economic democracy is residents having real power to make real decisions about how to spend public money. Thanks to our advocacy with PB CLE, the Mayor of Cleveland agrees, and he’s introducing legislation to allocate $5.5 million for the first-ever city-wide participatory budgeting process, or “People’s Budget.”

RSVP here to join us and the whole PB CLE coalition Monday, January 9th at 5:30 at City Hall for a press conference announcing this milestone in civic participation and economic democracy.

Above is the beautiful, powerful crew advocating for a People's Budget in Cleveland :) Photo credit: Loh

We’re on pace to launch community-controlled internet. Since the pandemic made clear the failure of our for-profit internet system, we’ve been working closely with ConnectedNEO to find ways to promote real digital justice in the most-disconnected big city in the US. In Q1 2023, we expect to launch a high-speed, open-access broadband network that will enable residents in Central to connect to the internet on demand. Residents will also have the opportunity to make decisions about their network through a Neighborhood Council. We’re planning a big party when we launch the network - be on the lookout for an invite!

We’re on pace to give out our first loan via the Cleveland Co-op Fund. The Cleveland Co-op Fund supports local cooperatively owned enterprises with non-extractive loans – no collateral, no credit schools, repayment from profits only. It’s part of the national network of non-extractive loan funds called the Seed Commons, an innovative model to fund cooperative ownership. We’re proud to be part of this network and bring new resources to Cleveland co-ops.

Ready to incorporate PowerUp as an official co-op and hire an Executive Director. In 2020 dozens of houses of worship and nonprofits banded together to buy contracts in bulk, building economic power together. Since then, our ED, Jonathan, has been the acting ED of what is now called PowerUp Purchasing Cooperative. PowerUp has signed dozens of contracts together worth more than $500,000 and saved 30+ organizations tens of thousands of dollars on electric, gas, waste hauling, copier, and property insurance contracts. In 2023, PowerUp will formally incorporate as a cooperatively owned enterprise and hire a proper ED to give PowerUp the capacity it deserves to enable nonprofits to shrink their bills and expand their mission.

Cleveland Owns is writing a strategic plan. Lots of projects, a small staff, ~so much more to do~ (housing co-ops, anyone? statewide co-op policy? campaign to undermine corporate-first economic development strategies?). Now that we’re more grown up, with a bigger budget thanks to our best-ever fundraising year, our stellar board of directors agrees it’s time to write a new strategic plan.

What projects do we say no to? What sectors do we focus on? There is enough work in the energy democracy space, for example, to keep us busy for a very long time - do we double down on that? We’re in touch with several awesome consultants who will help us produce this plan which we’ll share with you all and with our members and with funders. BTW, if you're interested in weighing in on some of these question, we would LOVE that! Please send us a note.

Here's to a 2023 building a more democratic economy in Cleveland. Thanks for being with us on this journey.

Solidarity forever,


On behalf of the Cleveland Owns board and staff: Mordecai, Michael Robinson, Dawn, Indigo, Mike Russell, Adam, Luther, and Deborah

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