Villa Comunitaria envisions a community where all families thrive and participate. In particular, they’re working toward a thriving and empowered Latine community in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood and beyond. To them, this means Latine residents participating in community decision-making and civic engagement, quality education, homeownership, rest and recreation, access to healthcare and nutrition, and access to land and space for community connection.
One of Villa Comunitaria’s key strategies for bringing their vision to fruition is economic development. Villa Comunitaria says: “Throughout our 18 years of work as a BIPOC-led organization, we have come to understand that holistic well-being and social justice for our community must include participating in the economic prosperity that our families create for our city. Our families help build and sustain this city, so we deserve to remain in our communities and to thrive as the city continues to grow. This is why we were so eager to join the Generational Wealth Initiative’s Community Roundtable.”
Villa Comunitaria is a participant in the Generational Wealth Initiative funded by the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods (DON). In 2023, DON is supporting BIPOC entrepreneurs and community-based organizations to pilot community wealth building strategies as part of a long-term effort to close the racial wealth gap in Seattle. The community wealth building strategies include:
- Broad-based Worker Ownership
- Community-controlled Capital
- Community Ownership of Real Estate
- Progressive Procurement
- Equitable Small Business Ecosystems
- Wealth Retention and Asset Building Programs
As a pilot project lead, Villa Comunitaria has begun to develop a worker-owned childcare cooperative, representing the broad-based worker ownership strategy. This would be Washington’s first Latine community-led cooperative.
Villa Comunitaria sees huge benefits in worker-owned enterprises, especially for Latina community members and their families. Worker-owned cooperatives empower workers to make decisions in and about their workplaces, as well as share in the profits of their labor. Workers have the opportunity to grow their skills and build community and generational wealth.
Through this pilot, Villa Comunitaria has invited and stipended community members to engage in the cooperative development process. They’re partnering with Northwest Cooperative Development Center to receive training, coaching, and technical assistance, as well as connecting with culturally specific co-op developers around the country.
Through this hands-on learning process, Villa Comunitaria aims to become a Spanish-language resource for cooperative development in Seattle, including hiring a co-op development coordinator and establishing an incubator program. They recognize that the Pacific Northwest needs more support for cooperative development, and they want to fill that need in their community. Villa Comunitaria imagines “a future ecosystem/network of Latino cooperatives that share resources and actively support each other.”
People’s Economy Lab has had the pleasure of working with Villa Comunitaria before. Their executive director, Analia Bertoni, participated in the inaugural New Economy Washington Frontline Community Fellowship cohort, which supported the development of Villa Comunitaria’s Salsa De La Vida Community Farm.
We’re excited to support Villa Comunitaria as a consultant for the Generational Wealth Initiative! We look forward to the launch of the worker-owned childcare cooperative and many cooperatives to follow.