A Case for Co-Ops (AC4CO) is a digital media outreach project that is intended to explore methods for increasing the impact of sustainability solutions, by helping to translate research implications into practical approaches for sustainable business design. The goal for this project is to increase public awareness regarding latent sustainability benefits offered by the proliferation of worker-owned social enterprises. In effort to achieve this goal, AC4CO pulls together a collection of information and resources regarding the design of worker-owned business models that implement social and environmental safeguards. This collated outreach material is hosted on a dedicated website, which decentralizes solutions by making educational material accessible to a diverse audience. Notably, AC4CO features edits from exclusive one-on-one interviews with leading academic scholars from the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU, who share their expert understanding of various sustainable business practices. Each expert offers insight into an integral piece within the constellation of considerations that are involved in the design of sustainable social enterprise models – from procurement policies to waste reduction strategies. Parallel to these interviews, AC4CO also showcases the design process for an emerging, sustainable worker cooperative, by highlighting the incubation of a local beverage business called Together We Brew. This incubation process was directed by fellow sustainability solutions graduate student, Nick Shivka, in collaboration with his ASU project partners, on behalf of their incubator program’s pilot cohort of worker-owner recruits. Weaving these aspects, AC4CO’s video components synthesize fundamental research-based knowledge of solution strategies into plainly spoken dialogue and augments the discussion with tangibility that is delivered through a visual narrative. This narrative lends plausibility to the task of designing business solution strategies, by providing viewers a look into the process as peers work together to figure out how to structure a cooperative business model that can present viable economic opportunity, while also promoting social equity and environmental protection. By stripping away scientific research jargon and simultaneously presenting a visual rendering of a theory of change, AC4CO’s approach frames the content of the video components in a way that enables an inclusive vision to be shared with a broad working-class audience. This method is intended to foster popular appeal, by distilling complex and varying issues into concise key points, while following a clear and coherent storytelling strategy for sustainability solutions. Functioning as a call to action, these video components serve a critical role in the overall digital media outreach project by piquing the curiosity of viewers and inspiring them to engage with the website to learn more. In doing so, the video components support the website’s central mission of providing a consolidated anthology of educational and resource tools, as a strategy for encouraging workers to join the movement by creating new sustainable and worker-owned social enterprises around the United States.
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