The Riverwest Investment Cooperative: A Capital Idea That Needs You
by Quinn Wilder
A new era is clearly upon the Riverwest neighborhood. Development is coming from the south. The housing market continues to boom, ignoring the sputtering economy and taking advantage of historically low interest rates. And new urbanism seems to be more than just a theory or a hopeful idea. So what is to happen to our beloved neighborhood? Will it be taken over by developers and investors with no appreciation for the unique character that Riverwest has become? The threat has never been more imminent. And who or what could possibly stop them?
Rewind to a recent Tuesday night in Riverwest. After the February Riverwest Neighborhood Association meeting, a few of us met at the River Horse to digest the bylaw work we had completed and to talk about completely unrelated issues. I quickly found myself in a discussion about building economic wealth within Riverwest. Now fast forward to the present. Iíve helped write more bylaws at another meeting and Iím now writing this article about a cooperative that is being designed to help keep Riverwestís fate and vision in the hands of its inhabitants.
I believe Riverwest needs some way to build the kind of power that gets respected first and foremost in a Capitalist economy: Capital. Our money-driven politics and culture have effectively eclipsed the voices of the capital-poor. But if capital can be built that is collectively owned, it could be used to protect Riverwest rather than rob it.
Now we move to the future: A collective of Riverwesterners and other stakeholders wield enough capital to improve home-ownership rates, influence development and gentrification, make loans for local businesses and residents, and more. This is the vision of the newly created Riverwest Investment Cooperative, a legal entity filed with the state that is bound to state statutes.
The rough details are as follows: Anyone may join with a minimum cash investment and participate in a democratic process of building capital as a cooperative. Dividends may be paid to members, and individuals may opt out and have their investment returned. An elected board makes investment decisions by consensus, with the beginning strategy of purchasing and selling residential property.
Come join us and get involved! Call Quinn at 372-5052 to find out about the next meeting. If you can wait until April to get involved, an information and membership drive will be held at Dinoís on Chambers at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 10.
Riverwest Currents - Volume 2 - Issue 3 - March 2003
Riverwest Currents online edition - March, 2003