01 May

Today we're pleased to release Cleveland Owns' first-ever strategic plan, a document that describes our vision, values, and work building economic democracy now and for the next three years. 

We start our strategic plan with a letter from Jonathan Welle and Moredecai Cargill, co-founders of Cleveland Owns current Lead Organizer and Board President, respectively. That letter in full is below.

We encourage you to check out the full plan at this link.


Dear Dear Collaborators, Cooperators, and Co-Op-Curious Clevelanders,

Welcome. If you’re reading this, you have taken the first step towards joining an ever-expanding coalition of Cleveland residents who believe in economic democracy and are committed to realizing an ambitious vision for the future of our hometown.

For our team at Cleveland Owns, economic democracy means community control over ‘the processes that provide for human life’ - what we call the economy. It means Black, brown, and working class people owning, controlling, and benefiting from the economic institutions that impact their lives – their workplaces, their electric utilities, their homes.

Many of us can squint and imagine a more just world where economic democracy thrives. That’s in part because today in Cleveland, the seeds of economic democracy are all around us: people bringing a meal to a sick neighbor; houses of worship using democratic processes to make big decisions; member-owned credit unions meeting the financial needs of thousands of us and fending off rapacious corporate banks.

For others, that vision is harder to see. Racial capitalism, the economic system that chases profit by disproportionately exploiting Black and brown communities, has so constricted our imaginations that at times we fail to grasp the rich histories of resilience, resistance, and cooperation found in the survival stories of nearly every peoples, particularly those most exploited.

We started Cleveland Owns five years ago to rediscover lost practices of cooperation and to nurture the seeds of economic democracy that already exist in our city. Our goal is to build a movement for economic democracy that will transform our economic system, starting right here in a city struggling to rise above the despair racial capitalism sows.

So we start co-ops. We organize neighbors. We fight for lower electric bills and cleaner air. We spark political imagination with common sense ideas: That there can be nothing about us without us. That only when ownership is distributed in an equitable way will we live in an equitable city. That we must have a city owned by its residents.

This document describes that work and carries it towards three years, projecting a more mature, robust version of Cleveland Owns that supports hundreds of co-op members building economic democracy, one community-owned solar array, one worker-owned business, one grassroots campaign at a time. 

To create this plan, we conducted a rigorous and collaborative process of developing a shared analysis, conclusions, and key questions with our community partners in order to hone in on how we should prioritize our time, energy, and focus in the next season of our work.

We invite you to join us in fighting for a more just, sustainable future for our community.

In cooperation,

Jonathan Welle

Lead Organizer

Mordecai Cargill

Board President

* The email will not be published on the website.