Profound Change in America

The Annual Meeting of the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires will be held on Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 7:00 PM at the First Congregational Church, 251 Main Street, Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Gar Alperovitz, the guest speaker for the evening, will speak on “The Possibility of Profound Change in America.”

Gar Alperovitz has had a distinguished career as a historian, political economist, activist, writer, and government official. He is currently the Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland and is a former Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge University; Harvard’s Institute of Politics; the Institute for Policy Studies; and a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution.

He is the author of the 2006 book America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy and of the more recent Unjust Deserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance and Why We Should Take It Back. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New Republic, the Nation, and the Atlantic among other popular and academic publications. He has been profiled by the New York Times, the Associated Press, People, UPI and Mother Jones and has been a guest on numerous network TV and cable news programs, including “Meet the Press,” “Larry King Live,” “The Charlie Rose Show,” “Cross Fire,” and “the O’Reilly Factor.”

He is one of the initiators of the much watched and discussed Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio. The initiative is inspired by the Mondragon Cooperatives started in the Basque region of Spain in the 1950s—a model of successful worker ownership of industry. The Cleveland project promises to create green industry jobs in one of the most depressed neighborhoods of the city and make owners of workers. Aware that this rebuilding could raise land prices and lead to gentrification, the project is employing a community land trust from the start to gather and hold land for and by the community into the future.

The central principle motivating the work of a community land trust is that buildings, homes, barns, fences, gardens, and all things done with or on the land should be owned by individuals, but the land itself is a limited community resource that should be owned by the community as a whole. The Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires owns three parcels of land. It has 22 sites leased for affordable housing for year round residents, a site leased as offices to a non profit, and a site leased as an organic farm. Membership in the Land Trust is $10 or 10 BerkShares per year.

Gar Alperovitz is a leading thinker on strategies for democratic, community-based economic development. He is also the president of the National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives and is a founding principal of the University of Maryland-based Democracy Collaborative, an international research institution sponsored by leading universities and citizen organizations.

The annual meeting of the Community Land Trust is open to the public. Tickets are $5 or 5 BerkShares at the door. Current members of the Community Land Trust may attend for free.

We hope you will join us to welcome Gar Alperovitz to the Berkshires.