The Creative Empowerment Cooperative will provide a space for both rest and innovation. It is envisioned as a beautiful, peaceful sanctuary for those seeking wellness and restoration, sabbatical to evolve as creators, and downtime to re-envision their social justice work. CEC will also be a resource facility to help local staff and nearby communities attain their priorities for sustainable, dignified, self-managed development. CEC will embody cooperative ideals on three levels: staff self-governance, guest – staff collaboration and mentorship, and guest – staff – community teamwork on local projects. As such, CEC will be a multi-stakeholder, type B social cooperative that is service rather than product oriented. The demographic composition of CEC guests, staff, wellness personnel, and local participation will reflect the broader community, and as such we anticipate that people of color will account for approximately 80 percent of membership. Guests will participate in the cooperative aspects of CEC on their own terms, and only after the first phase of their residencies.

Nuts & Bolts:

Who Will Benefit

  • Social Justice Luminaries: Life-long activists, artists, writers, and visionaries who are committed to social justice.
  • Local Staff: Residents of nearby towns and settlements who demonstrate high motivation for personal and professional growth.
  • Wellness Personnel: Invited practitioners from a wide range of spiritual and corporal healing modalities that attend to health of mind, body and spirit.
  • Local Communities: Councils, focus-groups, and leadership interested in priority setting for quality-of-life improvement, building local capacity, and creating partnerships to support local self-determination.
  • Everyone: By revitalizing leadership, inspiring synergy between creativity and activism, and promoting transnational and trans-cultural partnerships for community-driven development, CEC’s work will strengthen social justice efforts far and wide.

What the Project Concept is About

  • The Creative Empowerment Cooperative is: a Small-scale, Extended stay, All-inclusive sabbatical residency experience for social justice luminaries. The Cooperative will house 8-10 guests in private cottages for residencies ranging from 3 to 9 months. Guests will enjoy comfortable accommodation, delicious healthful cuisine, customized wellness services, and peaceful surroundings conducive to renewal of mind, body and spirit.
  • The Creative Empowerment Cooperative is: a training and empowerment institute for local staff offering Comprehensive benefits, Worker professionalization, and Limited-term contracts for residents of nearby communities. All local staff will receive an above market-rate salary, generous benefits package, and full access to facility resources. CEC will also provide on-going needs-assessments, pre-service and in-service job and management skills training, literacy and supplementary education, holistic health and wellness workshops, and personal and professional development counseling. Staff will participate in CEC operations and administration decision-making, vote on issues affecting them, and facilitate guest-community project collaboration. CEC’s hiring design exemplifies its “springboard” role by limiting staff contracts to 3-5 years. By fostering transferable skills and inclusive decision-making, the CEC experience creates competent “graduate” staff with advancement potential and long-term access to regional job markets, entrepreneurship opportunities and industry. This in turn aids community leadership formation, local control, and dignified and responsible local economic development. By rotating capacity building employment opportunities throughout local communities, CEC also activates the positive multiplier effect of employment on community development and local quality of life. Limited term contracts help encourage organizational access and prevent elitism.
  • The Creative Empowerment Cooperative is: a partnership facilitator securing human and physical capital for community-driven projects through Guest-staff teamwork, Trans-national resource provision, and Cross-cultural collaboration. CEC will help local residents acquire the expertise and physical capital necessary to achieve their community priorities by establishing staff-community liaisons, old-guest* — staff teamwork and mentoring, and direct-lending micro-credit partnerships. CEC will also provide logistic support for in-kind donation procurement, investment and co-funding facilitation. CEC’s cooperative mission is all about problem-solving, organizational and operational skills-transfer opportunities, and the transcendence of barriers for meaningful collaboration.
  • In all of its activities, CEC will be a model for Responsible environmental stewardship and sustainability. To the greatest extent possible, CEC will use renewable energy (such as solar and wind power) and chemical-free waste-water treatment techniques (such as the Living Machine™), and will build facilities with low-impact, ecologically sensitive techniques and materials. CEC will practice and instruct permaculture and biodynamic soil restoration techniques, and will provide practical environmental awareness training for staff and interested residents.

* “Old-guests” includes guests in the second phase of their residency and former guest residents.

When Activities Begin

The goal is to have CEC fully operational by December 2010. Staff would enter training by June 2010. Guests and wellness personnel would commence residencies by September 2010.

Where CEC Will Be Located

Our endeavor is provisionally headquartered in Sao Tome de Paripe, near Salvador da Bahia.  Several locations in Brazil are under consideration.  An exact site is yet to be determined.


The burnout rate in the trenches of social justice work limits the sustainability, scope and effectiveness of our movements both globally and locally. Social justice luminaries rarely receive the benefits and perks of those who adopt establishment-sanctioned pursuits. They enjoy few vacations and preventative self-care opportunities, and as a result suffer high rates of premature death, illness, and stress-related disease. Financial insecurity and hardship too often demoralize our leaders and truncate their careers as change-makers, which in turn takes its toll on the trajectory of social justice movements. The affects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from political intimidation, violence, and unjust imprisonment must also be healed and transcended if our leaders are to evolve and advance their work. CEC aims to provide our chronically under-supported social justice creators the personal downtime required for healing, reflection, meditation, rest, writing, planning, painting, dreaming, analyzing, experimenting, and innovation. Offering “old-guests” the opportunity to collaborate with staff on local projects also has notable benefits including fresh perspectives, insights, and solutions to common development issues. CEC’s cooperative ethic helps breakdown cultural barriers, xenophobia, and class-laden hierarchical staff-guest and guest-community dynamics, thereby fostering teamwork and mutual respect. CEC seeks to create a fertile atmosphere of political, philosophical, and creative inclusion that inspires all participants and promotes innovation.

By focusing on our own ingenuity and creativity we conserve our energies for building what we want and escape the draining trap of flailing against an oppressor.