Creating New Narratives: Youth Are the Present — Episode 157 of Building Local Power

Date: 11 Aug 2022 | posted in: Building Local Power | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

“Young people have the energy to respond immediately to crises,” Addison Turner, Worcester Youth Cooperatives organizer, stated in a new documentary “Radix: Youth Build Solidarity and Worker-Ownership in the Midst of the Pandemic.” The pandemic exacerbated the deeply rooted issues in cities around the nation — but the youth of Worcester, Massachusetts, decided that they wanted to enact change to create a better now. Their action lead to the formation of the Worcester Youth Cooperatives where young people are delivering food and other assistance to neighbors on bikes, growing their own food, and bringing power and a voice to Gen Z.

On this episode of Building Local Power, we are joined by two youth collaborators who played an integral role in developing the Worcester Youth Cooperatives, Mario Harper and Samuel Posner. Our third guest is now an adult ally and organizer, Addison Turner, who is also featured in “Radix.” The guests detail their experience growing up in Worcester, lay out the social and cultural inequities that the city faces, and rewrite popular ideologies to encourage an active community. Addison states that “we need to destroy the myth that youth are the future. Youth are the present.”

You can locate the documentary Radix: Youth Build Solidarity and Worker-Ownership in the Midst of the Pandemic here.

“[508 Bike Life] is in a position to now wield political and economic power through the fact that they’re providing vital services through Worcester Youth Cooperatives to foster and nurture the development of alternative power structures.” – Samuel Posner

Addison Turner: It’s not just about giving people things, and then walking away, but establishing a relationship with the intention of supporting the self-determination and survival of people who are at risk due to oppression, exploitation, and social exclusion. And that’s where we developed the Worcester Youth Cooperatives model is to work our own cooperatives so that we are producing value democratically.
Reggie Rucker: Hello, and welcome to Building Local Power, a podcast from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance dedicated to challenging corporate monopolies and expanding the power of people to shape their own future. I am Reggie Rucker, one of the hosts on this journey. On today’s show, we are engaging with three youth leaders who are going to talk about a new documentary called Radix, which tells a story of youth building power and claiming ownership in a post-industrial city. And I cannot tell you how excited I am to talk to our guests today.
These young people basically just decided they were going to take destiny into their own hands, not accept the world, not accept the community that was being handed to them, but they were going to make it the world and the community they believed it could and should be. It is so powerful, so inspirational. I do need to warn you, there’s a little bit of like technical glitchiness in the recording, but stay with it because what these young people have to say, I can’t explain enough how moved you will be at the end of it, but I’ll stop gushing and I’ll throw it over to Luke. Luke.
Luke Gannon: I am truly just so thrilled to be here with our three guests, Samuel Posner, Mario Harper, and Addison Turner, who are from Worcester, Massachusetts, and our leaders who have played an integral role in the development of the Worcester Youth Cooperatives and this film. Welcome to the show everyone.
So let’s get started. So can you all talk about your role in the Worcester Youth Cooperatives? Mario, let’s start with you.
Mario Harper: I’m the Bike Life Delivery Co-op co-founder for also the Worcester Youth Cooperatives, and I basically run basically the co-op with the delivery and all that. So we have kids that’s on bikes and stuff. We have kids that’s also on new e-bikes that we just had got recently. And what we’re doing is we’re delivering food from food pantries to families in need in the Worcester community areas. We’re just making sure all needs are met pretty much. And we’re also trying to expand also on our deliveries as well. So not also just delivering food, but also delivering like [inaudible 00:03:01] packages and whatnot. Even if it’s a pack of gum from somebody else’s house to somebody else’s house.
Reggie Rucker: And then Sam, you want to tell us about your role in the organization.
Sam Posner: I’ve been active in Worcester Youth Cooperatives, both as a youth member. So I was part of their first round of online programming of a preliminary test that they did back in, I believe April of 2021. And I also served as a representative of the cooperative in Spain. I was sent as a representative of the cooperative to visit the Mondragon headquarters. And I’m currently work alongside Addison and another member of the organization, Justin. We are currently the three members that comprise cooperative economic policy. We’re doing research trying to find a way to integrate cooperative economic principles within the structure of both governance and business in Worcester.
Reggie Rucker: That’s awesome. And then, Addison, you want to tell us about your role with the organization?
Addison Turner: My role as an organizer is to help to create the conditions and access to the resources and hopefully help in the generation of some of the knowledge to help you start cooperative solutions to social problems they care about. I feel very personally connected to this project and this effort as I was a youth born and raised in Worcester. I initially started as a young adult member. Now my role as, I’m an adult ally is just to do what I can and to provide guidance to help push these different projects towards hopefully building real local power. So it’s been an emotional roller coaster being part of this process for the past couple years now.
Luke Gannon: Addison, what you’re saying really resonates with me because when I was watching the film, I could totally feel how it was an emotional roller coaster throughout it. So I’m curious, and I’ll pose this to you first Addison, if you can talk about the title of the film and what it means to you and how you came up with it.
Addison Turner: Sure. So the title of the film Radix came out of a conversation. One of the things that we like to do is discuss etymology. So the origin and the relationship between words and their roots. And we were talking about how words like radical, eradication, and even the root vegetable radish, they all share the same root word, which is radix, which means root. So in jest, discussing those words and their connection and their meaning, we were talking about that with the director of the film, whose name is Andi Lipo and he kind of just put Radix as a placeholder, as a title, which happened to stick. And we haven’t really talked about the title since then, because I guess it stuck. And I think it would be interesting to now looking back contemplate and talk about what that root word of root means to us and our work in terms of being connected to our roots personally, in terms of the effort to really root and establish local power, in terms of eradicating some of the social problems that drive us to action and things of that nature.
Reggie Rucker: So Mario and Sam, did you both also grow up in the Worcester community?
Mario Harper: Yes. I basically grew up in the Boston community. I moved to Worcester from Boston back in 2013. It was a good change in my life. And we ever hung out hopping on a bike and doing what I love doing best. Literally just changed my life from meeting a person like Addison and then him also just making stuff happen also helping us, guide us to make those things happen, made a big impact in my life since I’ve been out here. It’s a true blessing to be surrounded by great people in this city.
Reggie Rucker: Tell us a little bit about your upbringing and Worcester. What was your relationship like with the community before starting this youth collaborative?
Mario Harper: Before everything was going on, it was a lot of confusion. Everything just discombobulate in a way. Everything wasn’t really as organized. And I feel like every youth or every youth group or every youth cooperative needs a personal like Addison. He just puts everything in line in a nice way for everybody to understand. If you don’t understand, he’s going to help you understand the best way possible. I feel like it has a lot to do with just being organized and having a person that’s able to open up a pathway for you.
Reggie Rucker: And then, Sam, how about you? Tell me a little bit about your experience growing up in and Worcester and your connection or again, lack thereof to the community.
Sam Posner: Prior to joining Worcester Youth Cooperatives, I had done some organizing and that’s how I initially met Addison. I think what’s so strange about Worcester is that Worcester has a rich history of both labor organizing and radical political action. Emma Goldman had an ice cream shop.
Emma Goldman: Where I decided to devote myself to the presentation of anarchism, a social philosophy, which aims at the emancipation, economic, social, political, and spiritual of the human race.
Sam Posner: Abbie Hoffman was born and raised here, just to provide two examples. But the organizing community in Worcester has been fairly disorganized or it was fairly disorganized when I initially joined. It kind of consisted of remnants of various anarchist movements. I mean, that’s still, but there wasn’t anything comparable say to Worcester Youth Cooperatives that existed. I’ve done some organizing with providing children the opportunity skateboard, using that as an opportunity to provide disadvantaged residents with access to recreational opportunities. But I wouldn’t say that there was anything of a comparable scope to that of Worcester Youth Cooperatives. And that was challenging because Worcester has been historically impoverished and it’s hard not to be exposed to inequality on a daily basis and especially given how many homeless there are, poor infrastructure. There needed to be something to effectively address that, but didn’t rely upon established institutions. And I think that’s what Worcester Youth Cooperatives did and is still attempting to do. And I think it’s a fantastic initiative for that very reason.
Reggie Rucker: I kind of want to dive in a little bit, you were talking about just like skateboarding, were these things as you were growing up in Worcester that those opportunities weren’t available for you? Were there things that you were looking for as you were coming up that it was like, “Man, this community doesn’t have this for me.” Were there things missing, even in your younger, younger days you were looking for, as you were growing up?
Sam Posner: There just doesn’t really seem to be much here, which is both beneficial and also somewhat of a detriment just because there’s so much opportunity. And unfortunately there are a lot of people who recognize that, people who are external to the community who recognize that are trying to make a profit off of it, you can basically create anything that you so want as in terms of an organization, because there’s no pre-established communities. But it is hard because it’s hard to find the people that would be interested in participating and because of how segregated the city is in some respects, there just really isn’t the ability to develop, say like a cross-cultural group cohort or community of people that would be devoted to one particular interest activity or endeavor, especially if it is political.
Reggie Rucker: And then Addison, I want to sort of throw the same question to you. What is it about things that you saw as you were growing up, whether the opportunities that existed or the barriers that existed, what about those things that you saw as you were growing up that when the opportunity arose for you to play a role in supporting the city, you felt like you were well positioned to do that based on your experiences growing up?
Addison Turner: So I grew up in a mixed race household. My father’s black, my mother’s white, and I grew up with three other brothers as well. I’m the second of four. And my mother was a nursery school teacher. My father was my family counselor, and most of the members of my family were involved in some kind of education or social service in the city. And that really was my main support system and my main world. I think that the most decisive barrier to me growing up, especially now being able to look back was kind of this notion that youth are the future. And I kind of internalized that and was largely disengaged from the world of the social problems that I was surrounded by because I was supposed to focus in school and go to college and then graduate and then perhaps become something after that process.
And that’s where I think the intervention when I started doing youth work, part of this is to counter that narrative that youth are the future with a youth of the present, and that not only that they don’t have to, but they shouldn’t wait until an adulthood to really get involved, to get ensconced and incorporated into what is happening in their community. I think that rather than just giving youth a seat at the table, but giving them the tools to build their own table, so to speak and not just practice leadership skills, but actually embody them and to learn through the process with the right support system, a lot can happen.
Luke Gannon: Thank you for that answer, Addison. Yeah, I think it’s, gosh, it’s so critical to start changing these narratives that we begin to believe are true. And I think that is such an important one that youth are not the future, they are now. They are the present. And that was something that certainly came out for me, especially during the film.
Reggie Rucker: We will be right back after a very short break.
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Luke Gannon: So I’m curious about the model of a co-op and how a co-op functions and works and how the Worcester Youth Cooperative might be different or exactly aligned with that model. So can you talk about how does the Worcester Youth Cooperative model function?
Sam Posner: A cooperative model generally advocates for a collective ownership of, I guess the means of production through the usage of shares that provide workers within the company, the opportunity to express their opinions and engage in for organization and oversight and operation of the company corporation or business without the need to adhere to the demands of the administration or business owners, just given the fact that they themselves comprise for ownership. So Worcester Youth Cooperatives is attempting to apply that model to a number of various organizations, which are attempting to address pertinent social issues within the city.
Luke Gannon: Yeah. No, thank you, Sam. And Mario, I’m curious what that looks like in the day to day. How does that model play out in 508 BikeLife?
Mario Harper: It’s still under Worcester Youth Co-ops, it kind of represents itself pretty much like a foundation. A foundation of mutual aid and mutual support’s help from everybody helping the world all around. It’s really not about how you help, it’s about you can help anybody in any way, shape or form.
Reggie Rucker: And in the documentary there’s a description of at a previous organization, some of you all were at, you had started a co-op there, but the leadership, management, owners, they still weren’t really listening to your ideas or your suggestions. So can you just tell a little bit of the story about what was the motivation for you to not just give up in the face of that resistance, but to push through that.
Addison Turner: You’re part of a community or part of a group that’s working together to work on something together and either external to that environment, there’s something going on. There’s something going on that is so egregious to you and is such a violation of the values that you hold. And also the values that you think the organization is supposed to uphold that you have no choice, but to kind of disrupt and go against what people in your community are wanting to happen. And that develops a lot of conflict, both internal and external to the people involved. We experienced and heard a lot of rationalizations of why we can’t really help homeless people right now, or we can’t really include support for drug users or sex workers into what we’re doing here and now.
And that was kind of a microcosm of the systemic dismissal of why we really can’t come together to address these really violent and pervasive social problems. We’re going to do something and at least talk about the issue or pay lip service to it, but we really can’t do that here and now. And you kind of have to develop the conviction within yourself and some people who feel like you do and call out the issue regardless of how upset it might make some people and see what happens and chart that path forward.
And I apologize for being a little bit vague about some of the things that were involved, because it is sensitive and there actually is a lot of trauma that we’ve been working through. There were people who did not want Worcester Youth Cooperatives to come into being and to do the work that it was doing. And so overcoming that took a lot of courage in the young people that started it, and I will never, ever, ever forget the day when they kind of reached out to me and said that we’re going to leave this organization and want to start our own thing, because the risks and courage that were involved in that is not something that I had personally seen before or since.
Reggie Rucker: The strength to take the risk that were taken and to be as bold and visionary as you all were, I mean, I think that shows so clearly through this documentary and again, is one of the reasons why we wanted to have you on the podcast and talk with you. So appreciate you sharing that and giving us a little bit of that additional glimpse into what was going on in your minds and your hearts and your souls as you were venturing out to start the Worcester Youth Cooperative.
So if I can now, want to pivot a little bit into this story of the 7-11, which is just incredible. Not giving away too much of the documentary, but there’s an owner of a 7-11, start of the pandemic, and he’s just got all this merchandise that he’s going to end up throwing away. And so one of our primary initiatives at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance is a waste to wealth initiative and trying to find ways to move towards a zero waste economy. So when I saw that part of the film, I’m like, “Oh, this is what we do.” So if you could, Addison, tell us about sort of how you learned of this store that was literally going to be wasting tens of thousands of dollars in food and found a way to turn that into good fortune for others in your community.
Addison Turner: So, first of all, in addition to the issue of waste, I think that another way to frame and talk about the issue is through the crisis of over production that is endemic to capitalism, is that there’s the need to produce more and more products. And what goes with that is the need to sell and consume more. And the mismatch in that is a real contradiction that results in capitalism always producing more and therefore having to waste that can be consumed. And kind of the struggle for the capitalist system to produce value in terms of commodities and then to realize that value back as capital through the sale of those commodities and the consumption. It has to work in a cyclical way. And there are economists like David Harvey who references the insights of many others as well that show that the cycle of capitalism is more like a spiral rather than a pure cycle.
And it makes you think, as well as the W.B. Yates poem of turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer. Things fall apart. The center cannot hold. And so the necessary unsustainability of capitalism, as it tries to cycle through production and distribution, and then consumption is something that we encountered when we were at a 7-11 one day and we saw this guy taking a bunch of food off the shelves. And we were just talking to him about what he was doing and he told us that, we can’t sell this food because no one’s coming to the store.
And we explained to him that we were involved in outreach to the homeless community in Worcester and that we might be able to use those resources, not just to provide some of the material needs that was there for people to eat, but also as a vehicle for us building relationships with this community so that we could work towards not just charity, it’s not just about giving people things, and then walking away, but establishing a relationship with the intention of supporting the self-determination and survival of people who are at risk due to exploitation and social exclusion.
So it was definitely eye opening to see so much food being wasted. And that provides an opening for organizers like us to intervene at the point of distribution, which again is not at the root of the system, is not in terms of improper distribution. But the root of it is inequality at the point of production. And that’s where we developed the Worcester Youth Cooperatives model is to start worker owned cooperatives so that we are producing value democratically and then dealing with distribution as a byproduct of that. Equal production of value creates the conditions for equal distribution. And we’re certainly starting to see what we can do to make that more of a robust kind of change.
Luke Gannon: Yeah. Thank you, Addison. It does certainly seem like we have been losing a lot of value due to this crisis, as you say of over production. So I want to turn to Mario for a minute. And I’m curious about the connection between 508 BikeLife and the food rescue program. When was that initiated? How did these two ideas connect and manifest?
Mario Harper: Yeah, two and a half years ago, Addison and I came to the group chat about trying to involve 508 BikeLife, more into community outreach during the whole pandemic there being nothing to do and whatnot. He decided to take upon and give us an idea of making use of our bikes during the pandemic and delivering food from food pantries to people that couldn’t even leave their houses or people that it’s just hard to access food to certain neighborhoods. So that came about and how that started was Addison reaching out and us youth reaching out to food pantries, trying to collaborate on this idea as well.
So what happened was we had a list of food pantries and we would go grab the food from the food pantries. There’ll be an address on where to drop the food off. We either drop it off like front porch or back porch, wherever is desired. You just make sure all needs are met and it was the list. So, it wasn’t something that would get done in 10 to 20 minutes. It was multiple houses and [inaudible 00:25:38] last stops. It was a lot of back and forth, also making sure that every… It’s also a communications thing as well. So if somebody already had picked up food from someplace, you won’t have to double back on the same place, knowing that there’s no more food there. That’s how that came about.
Reggie Rucker: It’s a really smart application of this idea of you’ve got these young people who are getting around town, enjoying life, enjoying public space on their bikes, and to be able to sort of infuse that sense of play, which is in and of itself incredibly valuable and incredibly important. And layer on top of that sense of community mission and purpose, that’s really doing good for others in the community.
Sam, I wanted to turn this question over to you and sort of still staying with the 508 BikeLife a little bit, but it was clear in the documentary that this 508 BikeLife was not just about delivering food to people in need. And it wasn’t just about this claiming a right to public space. But the film talks about it being even deeper than that in that there’s this opportunity to claim political power and claim economic power and what you all are building is emblematic of that. Can you talk about the way that, whether it’s 508 BikeLife or just the organization at large has really started to claim that, like I said, that political space, that economic power space? And curious how the powers that be, the sort of institutional powers, how they’re responding to you as you stake your claim.
Sam Posner: I can speak briefly about 508 BikeLife. I’m an observer, I’m not part of the organization, unlike Mario. But I will say that the existence of 508 BikeLife has always had political implications just because they exist in opposition to the police, which is a good thing because the police are antagonistic towards the reclamation of what once was pedestrian’s space that is now currently occupied by cars. If you see pictures of Worcester from 100 years ago, bikes shared the road with cars and they shared the road with street cars and they shared the road with people and they shared the road with horses and other forms of transit, many of which no longer exist due to the proliferation of the car. And they are really intent upon reclaiming of a road, but the police are very much intent upon criminalizing them, which is very unfortunate.
But I believe that the allegiance between 508 BikeLife into Worcester Youth Cooperatives is a means by which of developing another form of dual power or an integrated power structure, whereby they have support that is being provided by the organization that allows them to expand and to establish a degree of legitimacy beyond merely being a community or an organization comprised of people who like riding bikes and who really want to incentivize bike riding within the city. They actually are in a position to now wield political and economic power through the fact that they’re providing vital services and through Worcester Youth Cooperative’s ability to foster in nurture with development of these alternative structures, these alternative organizations that can provide the same services that have historically been provided by institutions, but are no longer due to the effects of neoliberalism, delivering a way of the social safety net and just social infrastructure in general.
That is very powerful because it sends a message to the city. It sends a message to the city government that these organizations are in a position to effectively rest control from them and can actually establish a new maybe far more equitable, far more just vision of Worcester. One that is not necessarily beholden to corporate interests or the interest of entrenched political machine, I guess, as exemplified in this instance, by the police union and police officers as a whole. T`hey are part of the Vanguard in this instance.
Reggie Rucker: You mentioned the juxtaposition between with the work that you’re doing and the police as an institution. What about sort of other elements, departments in the city, how has that relationship developed over the course of the last couple of the years? Has there been a lot of conflict there, or has it been a fairly collaborative process because of the services that you are able to provide and the ideas and the energy and all that? Yeah, just what’s that relationship like?
Sam Posner: I can just provide a few words that can say that doesn’t really appear as if the city is all too interested in collaborating with us outside of a DYO, which has always been say the most progressive of the department of youth opportunities. They’re the ones who provided us with grant money so as to operate this pilot program, which Addison, Justin and I are members of, doing cooperative economic research and finding ways to incentivize youth participation in cooperative organizing. But for the most part, I think that the city government, if they are at all familiar, kind of considers us to be somewhat of a joke. They’re more interested with attracting external development than they are with trying to ferment or engender any kind of grassroots change occurring here and provide some support.
Addison Turner: I think we haven’t had any direct interface with any other departments in the city, aside from the police with 508 BikeLife and with the division of youth opportunities. Which is under the department of health and human services. And the DYO in its part has been supportive. I think that in terms of the political considerations that may develop out of the issues that are being addressed and raised, down the road the question of cooperative economics as a way to address social issues will become probably more contentious and political as we’re talking about workers, especially young workers, being able to control the means of production and therefore make a hierarchical model of economic organizing extinct, or even dangerous in the face of a massive people that wants society at large, to be controlled democratically.
And out of that, I think will come some level of challenge or confrontation or expectation of the state and the government to kind of follow through with its democratic principles. Which we know through history that the democratic principles are not able to be followed through on because of their being beholden to the system of exploitation that is racial capitalism and patriarchy.
Reggie Rucker: So I’m going to pick up on that thread a little bit Addison, and I always kind of hate this question because everything you’re doing in the present tense is exceptional. And so I wanted to be sure to give you your flowers and celebrate the current moment. But that said, you started sort of talking about what’s next in the future. So I want to give you a chance to give a plug or plant the seed. What is next what’s on the horizon for the Worcester Youth Cooperative?
Addison Turner: So we are preparing for relaunching our Dare to Co-op Academy, which is an educational program where our current youth leaders will guide a new cohort of youth who want to get involved and to develop them into the membership and leadership of their own cooperatives. So that is one of the primary vehicles for our membership development and also the production of the knowledge that is relevant to following through with our mission of being able to support the power of young people to develop cooperative solutions.
And another aspect of what’s next, I think that Sam would be able to speak to in terms of the research that he’s doing and especially in the wake of his visiting Mondragon. I think that this piece kind of gets at the core of what I think you all in this podcast are interested in, which is the building of local self-reliance and power. And by going to Mondragon, Sam was able to with Leslie, who was another youth who was able to accompany him as a representative of us in Spain, he was able to see a very robust system of financial educational and business institutions that are all worker owned and community owned. So it’s kind of as if the logic of using worker-owned cooperatives as a tool for building local power is perhaps best represented at Mondragon. With that being said, we are also developing an internal critique of that model and how it can be applied in Worcester.
Luke Gannon: Yeah. Sam, I would like to turn to you for just a minute to hear maybe a couple of the key takeaways from that trip that you want to implement in Worcester, that relate to this idea of building local power.
Sam Posner: What I primarily took away from my trip is that cooperatives can be wildly successful if managed properly. What I think that Worcester Youth Cooperatives really should do is to best determine what it is that they’re seeking to do, because for as large as Mondragon is and as successful as it’s been, they still have had to make a number of compromises and concessions, which have unfortunately, maybe diluted say the potency of their commitment, or taken away, detracted from their actual commitment to constructing an alternative to preexisting systems. Because if you have a corporation which comprises 80,000 workers, it is very hard to ensure that all of those workers have the ability to express either their discontentment or their own opinions regarding the organization and continued operation of the corporation. And so we also want to find a way to strike a balance between profitability, because we still will be existing within capitalism.
We’ll probably have to receive some kind of compensation to ensure that organizations remain operational, but how can we find a way to ensure that we are not one, exploiting the worker owners and two, not exploiting the people who rely upon our services. And I haven’t yet determined how, but we need to find a way to ensure that we can expand, but not in such a manner that suppresses the voices of not only the members of the organization, but is dismissive of the needs of the most vulnerable who are our target audience or who we will be attempting to serve. And so I think Mondragon, extremely inspirational, just to see the way by which they’ve been able to expand and ensure that the majority of their workers are provided the ability to live without fear of basically economic destitution. We also want to make sure that we really focus on local concerns, but the hope is that through the expansion of the organization we can incentivize the growth of other youth owned cooperative organizations across the country and hopefully the world.
Reggie Rucker: Awesome. What is a book that you’ve read that has really sort of been impactful to you and inspired the work that you do about you? How about you Sam?
Sam Posner: Ursula K. Le Guin The Dispossessed, probably excellent introduction. Especially when I was young, my father was like, “Read this before you come to me and discuss anything else.” Just excellent work. It was speculative fiction. And I think that her depiction of functioning, I guess, anarchist society, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a society not predicated upon the extraction of value and a society very much committed to ensuring equity or equality, and the establishment of equality between all people. It’s definitely guided my own thinking.
Reggie Rucker: Awesome. Perfect. Thanks for that, Sam. How about you, Mario?
Mario Harper: I’m going to definitely say, it’s going to sound probably [inaudible 00:39:29] or not, but I’m going to definitely say Diary of a Wimpy Kid serious. Because that’s probably the only series of books, I probably ever really sat there and read throughout my life. And I say that because in those books with all the chaos happening in those books, the K managers still have fun in life. There’s so much chaos, you deserve to have fun. And life hits you at every different angles in on whatnot. And you may not like what you’re doing or whatever. People and I might not like how you are as a person, but long as you having fun, I personally feel like it shouldn’t be a bother to anybody. I would definitely say that book, me reading those books back then kind of made me who I am, kind of the person now.
Luke Gannon: I love Diary of a Wimpy Kid. That’s a good one.
Speaker 4: Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Speaker 9: This is not a diary. It’s a journal.
Mario Harper: I finished the last book in my principal’s office. Can’t you believe it?
Reggie Rucker: That’s great. How about you, Addison?
Addison Turner: It’s just really humbling being a part of this project and to have the privilege to be in a real relationship with these young people. Not many people have the opportunity to actually be part of such a community. I’m very grateful for both Mario and for Sam, for sticking with this process for so long and it’s a really special thing that I think is happening. But some of the books that honestly have inspired my work, one of them is Eight Hours for What We will, which is a book about how the class struggle has shaped the public space and leisure time of industrial workers in Worcester, Massachusetts from 1870 to 1920. Just so relevant in general, but also to the work of reclaiming public space that 508 BikeLife has been at the forefront of doing. And that provided a historical perspective of the struggle for public space and leisure time that is conducive to development of wellbeing in the community.
Another one is Das Kapital, because in that book Marx I think provides the best critique of political economy that has yet to exist. So in terms of understanding the different aspects in the economic cycle, and it really helps to illuminate kind of the economic world that we are enmeshed in. And then another one is false nationalism, false internationalism, which I think is a really powerful critique of the new African revolution in the United States. Especially as it bears on the struggle to develop an international working class movement. I think that he lays out a really strong argument for how imperialism and opportunistic tendencies tend to link up across the world to go against the revolution so to speak.
Reggie Rucker: No surprise that each of your sort of book suggestions, the things that have moved you to do the work that you all are doing are equally inspirational and powerful and playful. I’m such a fan of your work. You all are truly inspirational. Thanks for sharing your time and your wisdom with us. And thanks for sharing your talents with your community of Worcester, this world. We’re blessed to have people like you as part of this world, serving this community. Thanks again for your time.
Luke Gannon: Yeah. I feel like each of you are incredibly wise and passionate and knowledgeable people. I cannot thank you enough for this conversation. Our last question is, where can people go to see this documentary? Where should we point people to? Addison, maybe you can pick that up.
Addison Turner: If people want to see the documentary, they can go to YouTube and search for Worcester Youth Cooperatives or Radix and Worcester. And they also can go to our website, And we also have a link tree on our Instagram.
Addison Turner: Thank you.
Sam Posner: Thank you.
Reggie Rucker: Thank you for tuning into this truly special episode of the Building Local Power podcast from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. You can find links to everything discussed today by going to and clicking on the show page for this episode. That’s
Luke Gannon: We have all kinds of ways for you to get involved in our work, sign up for one of our many newsletters, connect with us on social media, or even reach out with a podcast guest. All of your reviews, likes and donations help produce this very podcast and support the research and resources that we make available on our website. This show is produced by the brilliant Reggie Rucker and me, Luke Gannon. This podcast is edited by Drew Birschbach. Our theme music is Funk Interlude by Dysfunctional. And before we end, remember to head over to Get inspired and take action in your community.




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Audio Credit: Funk Interlude by Dysfunction_AL Ft: Fourstones – Scomber (Bonus Track). Copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.

Photo Credit: Worcester Youth Collaboratives 

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Follow Luke Gannon:
Luke Gannon

Luke Gannon is the Research and Communications Associate for the Independent Business team.

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Reggie Rucker

As Communications Director at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Reggie develops communications strategies and leads campaigns to build public support for ILSR local power initiatives. Contact Reggie with media inquiries.

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