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Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution Paperback – June 4, 2012
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“This magnificent book is a kind of recipe for how civilization might cope with its too-big-to-fail problem. It’s a hardheaded, clear-eyed, and therefore completely moving account of what a different world might look like—what it already does look like in enough places that you will emerge from its pages inspired to get involved.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy
“This book is not only brilliant but also tremendously important. It’s one of those rare books that opens our eyes to the fact that something we’ve taken for granted is actually intrinsically destructive and can be replaced by alternative, healthier forms of organization. I found it exhilarating.”
—Fritjof Capra, physicist and author of The Tao of Physics and The Hidden Connections
“As a serial entrepreneur who’s started three traditional shareholder-owned businesses, I know from experience what’s wrong with that model. The future belongs to the alternative forms of ownership Kelly writes about. This is a book the world desperately needs.”
—Jeffrey Hollender, cofounder and former CEO, Seventh Generation
About the Author
Marjorie Kelly is a fellow at Tellus Institute, a Boston think tank, and director of ownership strategy with Cutting Edge Capital. She is the author of The Divine Right of Capital and was cofounder and president of Business Ethics magazine.
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William Greider's fantastic book The Soul of Capitalism spurred me into shifting the focus of my activist thought to the importance of alternative business models. Myself, I was a working member at a Food Co-op in New York at the time. I can't help but notice some important stylistic similarities between Kelly's new book and Greider's 2003 work, but only as a compliment. Moreover, Greider's book was itself inspired by Kelly's first one, I have since discovered rereading his preface in Divine Right of Capital. To Kelly's further credit on one detail, Greider never mentions the historical origins of the employee ownership model in his book, and keeps his focus on the 20th Century innovations by Louis Kelso and Senator Russell Long, and the penetrating insights of David Ellerman and Herman Daly. Kelly refers to the latter two also, but gives a sharp if fleeting mention of the co-ops pioneering accomplishment as a model and practice in history. However, she gives no bibliographical reference. I can only think she is wary of some kind of a reactionary witch hunt to explain this omission. Johnston Birchall's major 1990s work on co-operatives is a good reference to get a look at the history. An article I wrote on Fair Trade and available on line at the university journal Anamesa called The Real Price of Coffee gives a range of references in this area, some thanks to Kelly's first work.
I really like Kelly's theoretical umbrella around purpose and design, including catagories like Living Purpose, Rooted Membership, and Generative Ownership. She provides an unhurried and usually clear narrative as she introduces crisis and alternatives, ideas and examples. In the occasional moment where she loses clarity, it is not so difficult to regain your place in the network of ideas and examples Her ideas about design are brilliant, and remind me of William McDonagh's cradle to cradle ideas about green industry.
The book is an excellent blend of density and light, with ample material to probe further into the subject. Nevertheless, she only mentions Greider by name, but without any reference to his very unsung work cited above. She does mention Gar Alperovitz's work America Beyond Capitalism. She also makes reference to the Solidarity Economics movement, but while noting its origins and prevalence outside the US, fails to note the progress in the US such as the 2009 SE Conference, following the two US events of the World Social Forum.
This is the kind of book I thought David Korten would write in The Great Turning, but didn't. That he does recognize this approach is clear from his introduction,and an especially nice touch I'd say since he did found Yes Magazine along with his books.
Dive into this book! I heartily recommend it, since here we have a new conceptual articulation of individuals in co-operation and possibilities for grassroots sustainable development.