A Silent Transformation

The co-operative movement was built by people who took on the responsibility for their collective well-being in the face of government neglect, economic exclusion and cultural discrimination.

As the modern economy increasingly denies vast sectors of the population basic amenities for decent life, this co-operative spirit is as critical as ever. However, over the years the co-op sector has become insular and poorly understood.

A SILENT TRANSFORMATION sets out to explore the innovative self-help efforts of different communities across the Province of Ontario, Canada. By addressing their needs collectively they are helping to regain the radical vision of co-operation.

In these communities are the seeds of economic democracy, global solidarity, and a new popular movement to transform society!

Will it grow and flourish?

'Experience up close both the legacy and revival of cooperative business. Like no other film I know of, A Silent Transformation shows the diverse forms this tradition can take. It's an excellent introduction to a kind of business that is rarely taught about in school but a vital part of economic history and a livable future.' Nathan Schneider, Assistant Professor of Media Studies, University of Colorado at Boulder, Author, Everything for Everyone: The Radical Tradition that Is Shaping the Next Economy

'Capitalism's cyclical instability, deepening inequality, and financially compromised politics make millions critics of the system. They increasingly want and need options to consider, explore, and adapt as systemic ways forward. This film is an invaluable resource to enable and facilitate the transition from what is to what can and should be.' Richard D. Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Massachusetts - Amherst, Co-founder, Democracy at Work, Author, Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism

'Buckle up, because co-ops will be key to surviving the challenges of the 21st century economy. Silent Transformation is a high quality documentary tool that introduces everyday people to the cooperative model and some of its history throughout Canada...Through their eyes, we get to learn how co-ops enable communities to practice economic democracy. Beyond the film's rich storytelling, it offers educators a simple, accessible foray into the impact of cooperatives and the economic benefits they bring to problems of gentrification, displacement, quality jobs, and fair trade products.' Esteban Kelly, Executive Director, US Federation of Worker Cooperatives

'A Silent Transformation is an excellent survey of the cooperative movement. Audiences everywhere should see parallels to their own communities: deteriorating industrial cities, struggling farmers and indigenous communities, and working-class and immigrant neighborhoods battling gentrification, all using cooperative tools to take back some control over their communities and their lives. This film does not shy away from the toughest questions the cooperative movement still faces, like how these still-limited experiments can grow the political power necessary to meaningfully transform society.' Mike Haber, Associate Professor of Law, Attorney-in-Charge, Community and Economic Development Clinic, Hofstra University

'From Co-ops for skateboarders to Native Intertribal Housing, to the Root Cellar worker-owned restaurant, A Silent Transformation tells the story of how Co-ops find diverse and creative ways to build for the next generation where people and organizations look out for each other, rebuild the economy, and strive for the common good of the triple bottom line.' Dr. Alice Ammerman, Director, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Professor of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

'Climate change is the Earth sending us a message. Capitalism will kill us. There is no hidden hand that will make everything alright. This film shows people managing coffee from grower to drinker, housing, money, food production, even skateboarding through their cooperatives; it will cause viewers to start thinking about working together for the good of us all.' E. Paul Durrenberger, Co-founder, The Sustainable Iowa Land Trust, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Iowa and Penn State University

'Whether you are an educator, co-op practitioner or community organizer, A Silent Transformation can be used to spark a much needed conversation about establishing economic democracy.' The Canadian Community Economic Development (CED) Network

'A Silent Transformation takes you for a long walk through the ideas and places of worker cooperatives and consumer cooperatives in Canada. Seeing everyday people actually practicing these ideas makes this film especially effective to teach students about cooperatives.' Professor Joseph Blasi, Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, Rutgers University

'Reveals the myriad possibilities of the cooperative model, which promotes economic democracy as an alternative to the capitalist model.' Roberta Staley, Enterprise Magazine

'A Silent Transformation brings to life the quiet power of cooperatives - and human cooperation in general - to address vexing social problems and transform our communities for the better. The documentary follows creative grassroots economic initiatives in Ontario, Canada, and vividly shows the roles they play in well-being at all levels of society.' George Cheney, Professor of Communication, University of Colorado - Colorado Springs, Co-author, Just a Job?: Communication, Ethics, and Professional Life

'Have you ever critiqued the current economic system and then struggled to explain what the alternative actually looks like? Watch Silent Transformation! It's an intellectual yet emotionally engaging portrait of several businesses' efforts to democratize work in an ecologically and economically sustainable manner: from skateboarders and farmers to community owned housing, and wonderfully shot. I learned a lot!' Michael Menser, Associate Professor, Philosophy and Urban Sustainability Studies, CUNY-Brooklyn College, Author, We Decide! Theories and Cases in Participatory Democracy

'A skateboard cooperative? Yes, and a 'from bean to cup' coffee producer coop, a coffee grower coop, a (very large) credit union, a local movie theater coop, an affordable housing coop, a community garden, a dairy cooperative, and more. This is a sweet, intimate, inspiring film that mixes concrete examples and personal experiences with acute theoretical analysis, pointing ultimately toward social transformation. An exercise in empirically-grounded radical hope. Highly recommended.' David Schweickart, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Loyola University Chicago, Author, After Capitalism

'Social movements are transforming communities on local and global scales. A Silent Transformation offers a provocative portrait of the impact of the co-operative movement in Canada as a means for achieving economic justice. Students and change-makers alike who seek to advance social change will benefit from these informative lessons and practices of this powerful story.' Thomas Vicino, Professor of Political Science, Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University

Citation

Main credits

Brothers, Simon (film director)
Brothers, Simon (film producer)
Mistruzzi, Luke (film director)
Mistruzzi, Luke (film producer)
Smolski, Anton (film director)
Smolski, Anton (film producer)
Preston, Mark (film director)
Preston, Mark (film producer)

Other credits

Original score by Nick Kuepfer; sound design by Michelle Irving.


Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Anthropology
Canadian Studies
Capitalism
Community
Cooperatives
Economics
Labor and Work Issues
Local Economies
Sociology
Sustainability

Keywords

co-operative enterprise model, co-ops, failure of capitalism, economic globalization, high unemployment, local economic development strategy, silent transformation, London Ontario, GM arrives in Canada, GM Diesel, Ford, 3M, Kellogg's, de-industrialization, co-operative housing, London Skateboard Co-operative, Native Inter-Tribal Housing Co-op, Root Cellar, worker-owned co-ops, producer co-ops, consumer co-ops, multi-stakeholder co-ops, triple bottom line, trade unionism, On the Move Organics, Planet Bean Worker Co-operative, economic equality, neoliberalism, fair trade, ownership of the means of production, collective and community ownership, Li Maya Coffee Farmers' Union, credit unions, Harper government, community movie theater, sold memberships, community foundation, gentrification, real estate speculation, planetary suicide, climate crisis, Debbie Nolan, urban agriculture in South Etobicoke, Cafe Femenino Co-operative, Meridian Credit Union, Aron Theater Co-operative, Dufferin Group Housing Co-operative, Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, Family Pastimes Cooperative Games, Gay Lea Foods Co-operative, West End Food Co-operative,Daryl Reed, Richard Wilkinson, Leo Panitch, Maude Barlow, Michael Barrtt, JJ McMurtry, Gil Warren; "A Silent Transformation"; Bullfrog Films

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