This presentation focuses on the central role that co-operatives and commons play in the formulation and implementation of a new political economy oriented around the common good. The presentation will review the historical links between the two movements and how their respective histories and values reveal the underlying social dynamic that is at the heart of a continuous struggle for economic democracy and social justice. A key part of the presentation is exploring a new vision for the role and operation of the State as enabler and resource for the empowerment and mobilization of civil society for the production of social benefit. I call this the Partner State. How such a state might operate is explored through the examination of how co-operative systems have operated in regions such as Emilia Romagna, in the use of social co-operatives, and the experience of digital commons in scaling democratic systems.

Active in the co-operative movement for over twenty years, John Restakis is former Executive Director of the BC Co-operative Association in Vancouver, a position he held since 1998. He is currently Executive Director of Inspiration in Action (IIA) in Vancouver. His professional background includes community organizing, adult and popular education, and co-op development. Restakis was Research Co-ordinator on Social Infrastructure and Institutional Innovation for the FLOK Project in Ecuador. He has done consulting work on international co-op development projects, researches and teaches on co-operative economies and the social economy, and lectures widely on the subject of globalization, regional development, and alternative economics. Restakis has also been an advisor to Syriza in Greece for the development of a national strategy for the social and solidarity economy. He is also Research Associate for Co-operatives UK. Restakis earned his BA at the University of Toronto with a Major degree in East Asian Studies and specialist studies in Sanskrit and Classical Greek. He holds a Masters Degree in Philosophy of Religion.
Publications
Scaling Up, The Convergence of Social Economy and Sustainability, BALTA, 2015.
Commons Transition: Policy Proposals for an Open Knowledge Society, P2P Foundation, 2014.
Tax Justice and the Civil Economy, Ch. 8, The Great Revenue Robbery – How to Stop the Tax Cut Scam and Save Canada, Between the Lines, 2013.
Human Services and the Caring Society, Ch. 8, Seeds of Transition, Athabasca Press, 2013.
Humanizing the Economy – Co-operatives in the Age of Capital, New Society Publishers, 2010; 2nd Printing, 2015.
The Co-op Alternative: Civil Society and the Future of Public Services, Institute of Public Administration of Canada, 2001.
Storylines, Oral Histories for Literacy, Ontario Ministry of Education, 1987.

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