Dedicated to the legacy of activist and scholar Mel King, the Mel King Community Fellows (MKCF) program builds upon a 40-year-old tradition of bridging practice-based knowledge and academic research. The program’s goal is to create a dispersed learning network among the Fellows, who are recognized community leaders with experience in a range of social justice pursuits. Fellows focus on exploring emerging issues in cities and regions, investigating longstanding debates about deepening democracy and improving their understanding of the connections between economic justice and democracy – economic democracy.
The 2016-17 Fellowship program includes leaders throughout the Americas, who will share their knowledge and experiences from practice and leverage tools and theories from the academy to create collaborative transnational projects.
In a globalized world with increasing wealth inequality and interdependent political economies, there is rising urgency to replace exploitation and corporate interests with shared wealth and local community ownership of resources. Numerous organizations, some of which have worked directly with CoLab in recent years, have developed and/or implemented models to transform their local or regional economy. From worker center and cooperative networks to community banking, participatory democracy, and solidarity economies, this rising trend of local experimentation with economic democracy creates key opportunities to learn, connect, and build with potential collaborators across space and place.
The purpose of the MKCF 2016-2017: Transnational Economic Democracy program is to advance and strengthen the work of participating organizations, build Fellows’ leadership skills, and develop a transnational learning network of leaders that can support agendas and movements for economic democracy across the Americas. The goals for the MKCF 2016-2017 program are transnational learning and knowledge co-creation, individual and organizational capacity building to deepen understanding and actualization of economic democracy and self-determination at various scales, and long lasting relationships to continue learning and potentially collaborate beyond the program.
CoLab reached out to our collaborating organizations in diverse regions throughout the Americas - Colombia, Chile, Brazil, New York, and the US Southeast - to nominate rising leaders from their networks to be considered for selection. The class brings together a strategic grouping of community leaders from around the Americas who are interested in investigating new frameworks for advancing self determination and economic democracy – and working more effectively together.
The members of this Mel King Class are both seasoned and emerging leaders who are concerned with the current state of economic development in the Americas, and are pursuing new ideas and directions. The Fellows have experience leading economic and community development in their own regions, as well as a strong commitment to building transnational connections to support collaborative projects for - and analysis of - economic democracy in the Americas.