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Aug. 31, 2022

Cultivating Abundance Beyond Capitalism: Experiments in Commerce & Economy

“What does a post capitalist future look like?” ~ Renee Hatcher

In our season finale, our brilliant guests share their experience and experiments in commerce and economy to answer this question. Tune in to learn more about:

  • Worker cooperatives and the solidarity economy
  • Spirit led creative entrepreneurship
  • Participatory budgeting
  • Democratically governed investment funds
  • Time banks

We get into capitalism 101, the limitations of Black capitalism, the myth of meritocracy, redefining success, and the role of mutualism and cooperation in our collective liberation.

Be sure to take our quick survey! 

And sign up for the upcoming Taja Tuesday Artist Talk on Tues 9/6 – the day after labor day! - to learn more about the love and labor that went into this podcast, and what’s on the horizon. Join the Patreon at the Creative Conversation level or above to access the live virtual event or the replay.


Renee Hatcher is a human rights and solidarity economy lawyer. She is an Assistant Professor of Law and the Director of the Community Enterprise and Solidarity Economy Law Clinic at UIC Law. Listen to her full interview on Patreon (running time: 01:21:45) 

Nia Evans is the Executive Director of the Boston Ujima ProjectListen to her full interview on Patreon (running time: 01:29:58)

 Azua Echevarria is a scent alchemist who sells Spirit care products via her brand Age Into Beauty. Alongside Toni Johnson, she is the co-creator of Wild Woman Twin Flame and 2 Dope Rags. Support their GoFundMe campaign!

Toni Johnson is a healing artist who founded Rework Creative in 2005 where she makes and sells an eclectic collection of jewelry and future relics. Listen to her full interview with Azua on Patreon (running time: 01:43:57)



Visit to learn more.



Creator, Host and HBIC: Taja Lindley

Audio Engineering by Lilah Larson

Music by Emma Alabaster who also served as the Pre-Production Associate Producer

Additional Music Production by Chip Belton

Vocals by Patience Sings

Mixing and Mastering by Chip Belton

Lyrics by Taja Lindley and Emma Alabaster

Logo and Graphic Design Templates by Homegirl HQ

This podcast is produced by Colored Girls Hustle and supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project

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Producer’s Note: The Black Women's Dept. of Labor is produced as a podcast. Transcripts are generated using a combination of transcription software and human transcribers, and may contain typos. Please confirm accuracy before quoting by contacting us.

[00:00:00] Renee Hatcher: What does a post capitalist future look like? 

[00:00:02] Azua Echeveria: My goals are just different. I want a life that is full of ease.

[00:00:06] Toni Johnson: There are so many things that we can do to encourage a slower pace.

[00:00:11] Renee Hatcher: Capitalism is a system that is simply based upon exploitation.

[00:00:14] Toni Johnson: There's no way for me to mass produce that. And I don't want to. 

[00:00:17] Azua Echeveria: Success to me was dictated by the relationship I could cultivate with my clients. 

[00:00:23] Renee Hatcher: How do we make our institutions more democratic? 

[00:00:26] Nia Evans: We made history as the nation's first democratically governed investment fund.

[00:00:29] Toni Johnson: I've always believed in collaboration and I've always believed in community.

[00:00:33] Nia Evans: A time bank is an economy where the unit of exchange is time. 

[00:00:38] Azua Echeveria: We go by our own clock.

[00:00:41] Patience Sings: Now listen, now converse. Using our labor for more than wages. Our bliss, our rage, they're both contagious. Beyond the grind, we move through time. Joy is the compass, we live in our purpose. Telling our own stories, birthing new possibilities. Telling our own stories, birthing new possibilities.

[00:01:17] Taja Lindley: You are listening to the Black Women's Dept. of Labor, a podcast and project by yours truly, Taja Lindley, where we examine the intersections of race, gender, and the double entendre of labor: to work and to give birth. 

[00:01:29] Taja Lindley: We've made it y'all we have finally arrived at the season finale and I couldn't be more proud of what we've accomplished with and through these episodes! 

[00:01:38] Taja Lindley: This season initiated the pivot from the Birth Justice Podcast NYC to the Black Women's Dept. of Labor. And I give thanks for y'all rocking with me into this new direction. 

[00:01:48] Taja Lindley: We've traveled across space and time to discuss domestic labor, birth stories, astrology, discovering our purpose, welfare reform, back to work labor narratives, disability justice, racism in medicine, diversity equity and inclusion work, the history of Black women's labor and so much more. 

[00:02:09] Taja Lindley: On September 6th, the day after Labor Day, I will be sharing more about the podcast process, accomplishments and future during my Taja Tuesday Artist Talk. 

[00:02:19] Taja Lindley: Join my Patreon at the Creative Conversation Level or above to get access to the live virtual event, or to watch the replay if you're unable to attend. 

[00:02:28] Taja Lindley: I'm so excited to reflect on the labor in producing this podcast and to share what I'm dreaming up. Becoming a patron not only gets you access to this event, but it also gives you an opportunity to invest in the sustainability of this podcast, as well as my other creative work. 

[00:02:43] Taja Lindley: Now, before we close out the season, it felt important to explicitly address capitalism. What it is, the harms it has caused, and how we can do commerce and economy differently. 

[00:02:53] Taja Lindley: In this episode, you'll hear from folks who experiment and have experience with going beyond capitalism to create products, businesses, and processes that are more aligned with our inherent abundance in ways that honor and value humanity and this planet. 

[00:03:09] Taja Lindley: There are so many possibilities that we'll cover from spirit led creative entrepreneurship and time banks to worker cooperatives and investment funds that use a participatory budgeting model. 

[00:03:20] Taja Lindley: Before we jump into the episode, I want to invite you to fill out a short survey. I'd love to hear from listeners like you, about what you think about the podcast. Check out the show notes or the blog on for the link. Your feedback will help us strengthen and improve your listening experience. 

[00:03:38] Taja Lindley: Now let's get into this season finale.

[00:03:44] Renee Hatcher: I am someone who's committed to Black liberation. I am someone who grew up in a political household. My parents were very much committed to the Black freedom struggle. I'm a daughter of Gary Indiana where I'm from and grew up. 

[00:04:00] Taja Lindley: That's Renee Hatcher, a professor and a human rights and solidarity economy lawyer. 

[00:04:05] Renee Hatcher: I spend most of my days at UIC Law School, where I am a professor and direct a clinic called the Community Enterprise and Solidarity Economy Clinic. And we provide free legal support to grassroots organizations, community based businesses, cooperatives, other types of solidarity economy initiatives.

[00:04:24] Renee Hatcher: My route into the work that I do now is one of both trial and error, but also trying to figure out the ways in which to use the law in service to Black liberation or to think about the ways in which the law can be used to mitigate harm but also to build the institutions that people need.

[00:04:42] Taja Lindley: Renee got her start in civil litigation, addressing issues of employment discrimination. So between her politics and practice of the law, she's got some really great insights into what capitalism is and how it operates. 

[00:04:55] Taja Lindley: When I asked Renee to give us a simple definition of capitalism, here's what she offered: 

[00:05:00] Renee Hatcher: When people talk about capitalism, it can be so conceptual.

[00:05:03] Renee Hatcher: But just a simple definition of capitalism is that it's a economic political system that is based on exploitation in which goods and services are accessed based off of a market. And also one of the main characteristics is this idea of profit maximization. 

[00:05:22] Renee Hatcher: So in terms of a common definition, usually folks will kind of highlight five things that are inherent to a capitalist system. 

[00:05:30] Renee Hatcher: So wage labor, profit maximization, market exchange, private ownership, and commodity production, which simply means that things are produced for selling and to maximize profit, as opposed for things being produced based off of the needs of people. Right? 

[00:05:48] Renee Hatcher: Like even within that, in trying to make it as simple as possible, it probably feels really heady. But you know, one of the things that I want folks to consider is that, you know, it goes way beyond this idea of like the stock market or the fact that, you know, we go to work to earn a wage that we then need to actually be able to live, which is a large part of it.

[00:06:11] Renee Hatcher: But it affects everything. 

[00:06:13] Renee Hatcher: And that's why I say it's, it's more than an economic system. It also affects the way in which people can have relationships. The way in which our social kind of structure, is characterized by a caste system that includes race and gender.

[00:06:27] Taja Lindley: There are many ways to engage in relationships. 

[00:06:31] Taja Lindley: Capitalism is set up for our relationships to be defined by exploitation. Where someone is benefiting at the detriment of, or more than someone else. 

[00:06:40] Taja Lindley: And this exploitation isn't just about our relationships with each other, with other humans. It's also about our relationship to the land, to this Earth, to natural resources. 

[00:06:51] Taja Lindley: Let's examine who does and does not benefit from capitalism. And why and how that happens. 

[00:06:56] Renee Hatcher: If we were to talk about it in traditional terms, we would talk about the bourgeoisie, you know the capitalist class, the owners of the means of production. People who do not have to work to make a living to, to earn money, basically capital.

[00:07:10] Renee Hatcher: When we use the term capital, the only thing that that means is like money in search of making more money. Right. So capital isn't necessarily just money. It's just simply money that is motivated to accumulate, to make more. That's why we would refer to them as the capitalist class. They don't necessarily have to work to make money, but that money that they are earning is coming from somewhere.

[00:07:33] Renee Hatcher: And so then the next class we would maybe think about is like the manager class, like the folks who are perhaps like in a, a managerial status or they're the CEOs. They're actually working in the firms um at a certain level, you know. We know, for example, when we look at just like the pay inequity now that it's higher than it's ever been in comparison to what we would refer to as just simply like the workers. 

[00:07:59] Renee Hatcher: And there's, I mean, there's so much, there's so much nuance now, right? Because I think a large part of certainly like my work. And I think sometimes what we talk about is like entrepreneurship, like people who are working for themselves. But we would not necessarily consider them to be um, capitalists in the same ways. Um, they might be aspiring to build money, wealth through their business, but they simply aren't um, in control of what we would think of as like the larger corporations or means of production.

[00:08:30] Renee Hatcher: And also there's a lot there just in terms of now the gig economy that's exploded. So, for example, if you drive Uber or Lyft, right. In a way you're an entrepreneur. Right. And also we know that there've been big fights just about like, well, what is your legal classification? Are you a worker? And you know, entitled to certain benefits and rights in a position like that? Or are you an independent contractor? Uh which has, you know, different legal implications in terms of your relationship with your employer.

[00:08:58] Renee Hatcher: Um, so I feel like there's, there's a lot of nuance now, but I mean, for the most part, there is a small percentage of folks, you know, when we refer to like the 1%, these are folks who are in a ownership class, we would refer to as capitalists. And the majority of us, we're workers, we're workers. If you have to get up and go to work to make, you know, your rent for the next six to 12 months, you, you are in the working class. 

[00:09:26] Renee Hatcher: There are certain ways in which the rhetoric is used to separate the working class, right? To, to sow division amongst the working class, even though the vast majority of people in this country are workers and their labor in fact is being exploited. 

[00:09:42] Renee Hatcher: And this concept of exploitation, what that simply means is that when you go to work, the value of whatever you do for that eight hours, is created based off of your work. 

[00:09:55] Renee Hatcher: However, what you are typically paid in exchange for that eight hours is less than ultimately what that eight hours is producing and the additional value that's created through your work. Right? You don't get, you don't have a right to that. That ultimately would go to the owner of the company, or, maybe your boss, maybe just the shareholders of a corporation that you're working for, but ultimately you aren't receiving the value that you're creating by doing your work. Right. And therefore that is exploitation of the inputs and the value you're creating. 

[00:10:33] Renee Hatcher: Capitalism is a system that is simply based upon exploitation. That the profits go to the owners who do not do anything related to creating value within a company.

[00:10:45] Taja Lindley: And you may be thinking, this ain't so bad. The capitalist class earned their positionality. They got the business going so they should reap the profits, the benefits and the rewards. 

[00:10:56] Taja Lindley: But this line of thinking assumes a meritocracy. That everyone has what they have because they earned it or deserve it. 

[00:11:03] Taja Lindley: And that is not always true. 

[00:11:05] Renee Hatcher: So this idea of meritocracy, right? That certain people are rich because they are smarter or they've worked harder or that they simply are special in some way, and therefore, right, are deserving or have gotten to where they're at simply because of those characteristics. 

[00:11:22] Renee Hatcher: When we start talking about capitalism, capitalism is also based off of this idea of primitive accumulation, which means that the initial capital, like the initial economy is built somehow. In this country, we know that primitive accumulation took place through the genocide of Indigenous people, the taking of land through settler colonialism, and slavery, most of which was Africans enslaved in the U.S.. And so when you think about the United States and one of the things that I sometimes tell my students, it's like, you know these were small colonies right of the British empire.

[00:11:56] Renee Hatcher: And the only reason that it turned into what it is now is because there was 400 years of free labor and the taking of land and genocide of people. Um so, but for those things, does this become the richest country in the world.

[00:12:11] Renee Hatcher: And so when you start to think about it like that, we can literally trace the ways in which racism has existed prior to the development of modern day capitalism, but has always been joined and embedded in the capitalist system 

[00:12:28] Renee Hatcher: You know, part of it is just simply disrupting these stories that are told around, like meritocracy around this idea that, you know, this is the country where you can come and pull yourselves up by your, your bootstraps and anybody, anybody can be a millionaire. And like this idea that, okay, well maybe it'll be me. Right? I think also is one of the reasons why so many people buy into this idea of meritocracy. 

[00:12:50] Renee Hatcher: The truth of the matter is, is that so many things affect people's opportunities and outcomes in life. There's so many overlapping uh, systems ultimately that are, exist to actually decide where you end up.

[00:13:07] Renee Hatcher: And, you know, not to say that people don't have the freedom, agency, capacity to manifest their own destiny. But it is to say um that no matter what that looks like, that we are all navigating a system that is based on exploitation and based on inequality. There's never a situation where we all become bosses. Right? Like at some point, right, somebody is being exploited within the context of the system. And that is because it is based upon that.

[00:13:35] Renee Hatcher: That's the logic of it. That is essentially like what all of this is about. And, to the benefit of just simply the maximization of profit, not the wellbeing of people. 

[00:13:45] Renee Hatcher: And so again, like all, there's so many different stories that we could look at, meritocracy I think being a big one that also is, is both meant to justify the injustice of the system, but also to get all of us to buy in to the system being set up the way that it is inherent with exploitation, our own exploitation. 

[00:14:06] Taja Lindley: Speaking of the buy-in let's get into Black capitalism, what it is and its limitations of actualizing true economic freedom for Black folks. 

[00:14:15] Renee Hatcher: Black capitalism was a policy program by the Nixon administration in part to co-opt, right, to directly dissuade and co-opt you know, as, as many people as possible and as many Black folks as possible who were actively engaged in the civil rights struggle. 

[00:14:31] Renee Hatcher: But it's this idea that Black folks' road to freedom is simply by accumulating more money and more wealth. I always, you know, I have strong reactions to this idea. We're focusing too much on this idea of like the wealth gap, which is like a problem of course, but the idea isn't just simply for us to build wealth, is to change systems that are actually gonna create a just society for Black people.

[00:14:53] Renee Hatcher: And so, you know, Black capitalism, I also wanna be sensitive to it because the experience of Black folks in this country, being enslaved in this country, um, being property in this country, and there's different ways we can think about this, but feeling in part that simply having financial stability is a way to also disengage some of the more exploitative systems in the country. 

[00:15:18] Renee Hatcher: So like, if I have my own money, I won't have to go and work for a corporation in which like, I have a very like prejudice white boss. More or less like I can create conditions in which I might be better placed to protect my family, right to live a freer life." 

[00:15:37] Renee Hatcher: Um, the problem with that is like that it doesn't at all address the larger system or the masses of Black people. Like, if, if you actually really want freedom for Black people, you have to come to a point where you wrestle with the fact that capitalism will never be a situation in which Black people are free.

[00:15:58] Renee Hatcher: Once we understand this whole I'm gonna get rich charity model. Like that's not gonna save Black people. 

[00:16:04] Renee Hatcher: Um and I was just saying this, the other day like, you know, Rihanna and Jay Z, aren't gonna save us.

[00:16:08] Renee Hatcher: We have Black billionaires. That doesn't necessarily translate to the improvement of Black people's lives en mass. That's not to say they don't necessarily engage in charitable activities or give back to their community, but that's to say that structurally this economic, this political system, it does not work for us, does not lead us to a place of freedom. 

[00:16:31] Renee Hatcher: So Black capitalism is I think in large part, you know, something it's hard culturally. I come up against this in my work sometimes in trying to encourage cooperative development, which has always been a strategy of resistance for Black people in this country.

[00:16:46] Renee Hatcher: I mean, we have used both mutualism and cooperation time and time, again, both to resist, white supremacy and economic violence. Like that, that has been our way in which we were both resisting, organizing in terms of cooperation. And that's not to say we shouldn't own you know, small businesses or start our own businesses.

[00:17:06] Renee Hatcher: Like that's not at all what I'm saying, but part of what I'm saying is that we have to think about what our "why" is. Like, what is the underlying logic? Also how we do it?

[00:17:16] Renee Hatcher: And part of it is from my own experience in working with Black entrepreneurs, who, you know, some of which who went on to be very successful, but also, you know, you have to realize it's like, well, Black folks can exploit Black folks too.

[00:17:27] Renee Hatcher: They pay minimum wage. You know, they also might withhold wages or be on the other side of wage theft in part, because we are just simply integrating into a system that does not work for people's needs and for the thriving certainly of the Black community.

[00:17:45] Renee Hatcher: But it's this idea that simply Black people will ascend or advance through capitalism, through simply building wealth, and integrating into the current capitalist system. Like more Black billionaires are going to advance the Black community, which is not true. 

[00:18:02] Taja Lindley: That is a word. Okay?! This reminds me of episode four where we talked about the limitations of a diversity only strategy to address racism in medicine. That simply adding more Black providers to a for-profit healthcare system was not enough to address inequitable health experiences and outcomes. That Black folks in these systems can also cause and/or be complicit in harm. 

[00:18:27] Taja Lindley: Similarly, having more Black capitalists and billionaires is not enough to achieve economic freedom. At some point, we've got to look beyond representation and address the very systems and institutions that we're participating in. 

[00:18:40] Taja Lindley: This is why many folks are experimenting with other ways to be in relationship with one another economically. To exchange goods, services and information that is explicitly departing from the exploitative nature of capitalism. Many of these folks, though not all, identify as anticapitalist. 

[00:18:59] Renee Hatcher: Someone who is anti-capitalist simply is committed to a politic and a praxis to fight for and to organize for a different system.

[00:19:10] Renee Hatcher: That the logic of society shouldn't be based off of the maximization of profit for a few people. You know, we want a society based off of different values that center what people need um, and that everybody can fully participate, and fully experience their own humanity. That's all it truly means to be anti-capitalist. 

[00:19:36] Taja Lindley: So let's get into what else is possible. 

[00:19:38] Taja Lindley: How are folks imagining and trying on new ways to do economy and commerce? How are folks engaging and enacting the mutualism and cooperation that Renee mentioned? We're going to get into cooperatives, a time bank and an investment fund. 

[00:19:53] Taja Lindley: But before we do, I want to begin with artists cause you know, your girl is a creative. Okay?! And how artists both navigate this economy and operate outside of it is worth serious study and examination because creativity is required to live, be, and do differently than how we've been conditioned to be an economic relationship with one another. 

[00:20:14] Taja Lindley: I've been an enthusiastic customer and friend of Toni and Azua, the artists entrepreneurs behind Rework Creative and Age Into Beauty, respectively. They are a Black queer couple who hand-make and sell their heart filled creations. What they create, how they create and the way in which they choose to live is, in my opinion, very aligned with anti-capitalism. 

[00:20:37] Toni Johnson: I create spirit armor, but I also create many things. I'm kind of like a Jill of all trades. I like to use my energy to either assist or ignite the creativity in others.

[00:20:51] Taja Lindley: Many folks who become familiar with Toni's work may refer to it as jewelry. I own a few of her pieces, namely rings, pendants and bangles that have supported me on my path of creative expression and healing. But what Toni creates is more than just fashionable adornments. 

[00:21:06] Toni Johnson: Well, I call them future relics because they're very raw, but they're um, alive in the sense that they embody such pure, positive, powerful energy that they're like museum quality accoutrements. And you can wear them or you can use them in your house as ways to amplify or balance or protect your surroundings and you and the people around you.

[00:21:33] Toni Johnson: Also I have a background in music, so I understand how sound and frequencies play a huge role in creating these objects that I make.

[00:21:43] Taja Lindley: Before Toni began Rework Creative, she was a singer and a hairstylist. At the age of 19, she moved to LA to pursue music and worked at a salon as her day job. She later toured with Maxwell and signed to Capitol Records in the nineties. When that didn't work out, she moved to New York to continue to pursue her music but ended up in Texas and began working in corporate America at retail corporate offices. 

[00:22:06] Toni Johnson: My creative energy was kind of festering, but like wanting to get out and do something. 

[00:22:12] Toni Johnson: Something in me was shifting spiritually and I started beading and making jewelry for myself. And at the same time with the company, I, when I got paid, I would buy tools to make jewelry.

[00:22:26] Toni Johnson: And I was amplifying my awareness of creating in a different way without knowing that's what I was doing. And I was also stockpiling tools that would later benefit me when I decided to go full time creative. Cause honestly, at that point I had never gone full-time, even though I was doing the singing, I always had the hair as a backup or extra work in entertainment. But this time I was pretty much working two full-time situations.

[00:22:52] Toni Johnson: So I was being creative and working the day job. And that's how Rework was born because I had it as a side hustle, a moonlighting hustle.

[00:23:00] Taja Lindley: While Toni works primarily with the mineral kingdom, namely crystals, metals, and gemstones, Azua works with the plant kingdom, crafting delicious smelling perfume oils and sprays, scrubs, and more. 

[00:23:12] Azua Echeveria: I have always had a connection to scent, like the smell that's coming from our kitchen right now truly connects me to my grandmother. Life has led me to this place currently of tapping fully into my relationship with scent. So I utilize that gift to create and transform scents into spirit care products that can be used in someone's daily self care rituals.

[00:23:43] Taja Lindley: I like to call Azua a scent alchemist. Her nose is unmatched. She creates complex formulas that are truly a delight for the senses. Her products support the mind, body, and soul tapping into the medicinal and spiritual properties of her carefully selected ingredients.

[00:24:02] Azua Echeveria: Your relationship to scent allows you to know yourself better. It allows you to communicate without words as you move around in the world, because your scent becomes a part of your aura.

[00:24:11] Azua Echeveria: What you intentionally choose to use as your communication, your non-verbal scent communication, it's very, it's very telling. It can be a magnet or it can be a form of repelling. And so when you have a better understanding of the scent, their spiritual meaning, their metaphysical meaning, or simply because you like it, you know, that's intention, you've chosen it and, and choosing something for that reason, it really does communicate something.

[00:24:38] Taja Lindley: Azua has been a professionally trained makeup artist since she was 19. And after her mom passed away and after going through a divorce, she experienced a spiritual shift and jumped head first into entrepreneurship. 

[00:24:50] Taja Lindley: She quit her full-time job and became a freelance makeup artist, which amplified and deepened her connection to scent. 

[00:24:56] Azua Echeveria: In the isolation of divorcing and losing my mother and delving into my own uh, knowing my own spiritual self, so much growth really was spawned from that. So much clarity and, um... and I really was able to strengthen my, my core connection to Spirit and to myself.

[00:25:17] Azua Echeveria: And really utilizing visualization, my imagination to bring forth to fruition what I wanted for myself. So that really kind opened up a whole new pathway of possibilities for me, as far as what I could experience in my own reality and through my own rituals, creating my own self care practices and really setting out on a path to heal my pain and my trauma from my mother's death and from divorcing and getting to know this new version of myself. It spawned a whole connection to scent.

[00:25:53] Azua Echeveria: The first oil I ever created was something that was introduced to me through the practices of ayurveda. I really honed my energy on lavender, tea tree, and lemon. I kept it really simple in the beginning. 

[00:26:07] Azua Echeveria: I was able to develop my own ritual for massaging myself with oil every day that were infused with those ingredients. So that really is how Happiness Oil was born. And I learned through that experience that I could heal myself.

[00:26:25] Taja Lindley: While capitalism is rooted in exploitation, Toni and Azua take a different approach. One that is Spirit led and filled with love for each other, as well as their community of customers, clients, and supporters. 

[00:26:38] Taja Lindley: Their romantic partnership supports their independent ventures as well as their joint endeavors. They met online on Instagram in 2012 and met in person for the first time in 2016. 

[00:26:50] Toni Johnson: We didn't formally get to see each other until the fall of that year. And at that time then it turned into even deeper connection. We fall in love. We call ourselves twin flames.

[00:27:01] Toni Johnson: I can tell you almost immediately it was inevitable that we would collaborate. Because her energy was so uh, congruent with mine. So complimentary with what I was doing. We're both working with the natural kingdom, the natural elements.

[00:27:17] Toni Johnson: We were in alignment, which alignment plays a huge factor in why and how we even collided, our worlds collided. 

[00:27:26] Azua Echeveria: Yes, 100%. Collaboration is such a gift, especially when it can be seamless and come to fruition, but even just the spark or the desire to collaborate with another person, it's very, very powerful.

[00:27:37] Azua Echeveria: Our union in the physical was a huge kickstarter for our future collaborations and how we live and operate and work in such a unison today. 

[00:27:48] Toni Johnson: So when we think about alignment, flow is part of that. 

[00:27:52] Toni Johnson: It honestly was one of those things that you find yourself being more and more selfless when you're in love with someone or you're aligned, aligned with someone and your heart space is wide open with this zeal or this vigor to explore the possibilities. And you trust. 

[00:28:10] Toni Johnson: So the trust and opening and allowing, just made it even more sensible that we like, she'd be creating something. And I'd be like, what if I create something to go along with what you're doing? And then we'd do events, and I'd be like, what if we do our events together?

[00:28:25] Toni Johnson: You know, it was, just like natural. And we weren't using a blueprint. It was just happening that way. And then doors would open. 

[00:28:31] Toni Johnson: I've always believed in collaboration and I've always believed in community. Now, mind you, I've not always had that because it's really about lining up with the right people in the right time. And sometimes we will you know, as far as creatives, we would think we see the potential in a situation. Well Azua's the first time it wasn't just seeing potential. I met someone who applied. It wasn't just words. It was like the words and the actions they matched, which built this beautiful momentum that we could create together. 

[00:29:00] Taja Lindley: Toni and Azua have a couple of joint ventures and collaborations: Wild Woman Twin Flame and 2 Dope Rags where they sell vintage and repurposed upcycled fashions. 

[00:29:11] Azua Echeveria: When we had first been in touch with each other, after connecting on Instagram, we both had the desire to start working with textiles and start doing some sort of expression utilizing fiber or fiber art.

[00:29:23] Azua Echeveria: I had actually started doing that with a line of uh, wearable art that I was making called Black Punk. I was taking vintage textiles and utilizing and repurposing them and crafting them into talismans to wear and adornments and things. 

[00:29:42] Azua Echeveria: And we fast forward into meeting and, and falling in love and sharing a space together and creating around each other.

[00:29:49] Azua Echeveria: And it evolved into okay, well the fabrics, you know, can combine, we can really be resourceful with creating garments. She would introduce me to working with leather and making pieces with leather, incorporating denim into these wearable art pieces. 

[00:30:05] Azua Echeveria: So it really naturally flowed into what would come to be known as Wild Woman Twin Flame, which is a, a source or a container for utilizing this creativity and these found objects and found textiles and vintage textiles and recreating clothing that was and is gender fluid, non-conforming in their shapes, modern in shape.

[00:30:30] Toni Johnson: And I don't know if we said it, but we both, as kids had a love of vintage. So our line of creativity, as far as our clothing, is about sustainability. 

[00:30:40] Toni Johnson: There are so many things that we can do to encourage a slower pace, a slower ideal to the way we move forward in this world. And part of that is to think about our environment. And when we think about our environment, as far as the clothes we wear, everything is kind of a throw away culture.

[00:30:56] Toni Johnson: And so we take what we create from things that are already old and bring new life into them. Or we take textiles that people would never think to make into an outfit or something. And we rework them and make them into keepsakes that you don't want to actually sell. You want to keep it and maybe pass it down to someone.

[00:31:14] Toni Johnson: And it plays a huge part in the sustainable mindset. We could see ourselves really evolve if we took more time into the intentionality of wearing more organic fabrics, the cottons and the wools and the silks and the linens and the hemp, rayon, you know, because most fast fashion is, is polyurethane. It's, it's, it's flammable and it's not good for us.

[00:31:37] Taja Lindley: And it's not good for the environment either. What Toni and Azua share here reminds me of a cooperative that Renee has worked with. 

[00:31:44] Renee Hatcher: Yeah so Blue Tin Production Cooperative is based here in Chicago and they are a worker co-op owned primarily by refugee women, women of color. 

[00:31:53] Renee Hatcher: And I think they're such a beautiful example in part, because of both the ways in which I think they lead with their politic and also draw attention to how exploitative the fashion industry is specifically to women of color around the world.

[00:32:09] Renee Hatcher: Part of what their work is, and their success is, is actually kind of demonstrating a way in which to produce ethical fashion that does not rely on the exploitation of labor. And that prioritizes the needs of its workers in a way that is completely counter to, right, the majority of the fashion industry. 

[00:32:28] Renee Hatcher: And so through them, I've like been able to learn a little bit about fast fashion and the way in which most of our clothes that we actually would go to purchase in the store are made is inherently connected to violence within the fashion industry, that's so entirely like worldwide widespread in terms of what it takes for people to create and make as many clothes as we both consume and then, you know, discard every year in this country. 

[00:32:54] Renee Hatcher: And so you know, they operate with ethical fashion principles. They work with both local and national designers to produce clothing. 

[00:33:02] Taja Lindley: Renee has also worked with another worker cooperative, Chi Fresh. The Chi stands for Chicago. 

[00:33:08] Renee Hatcher: It's a Black woman owned worker co-op that does food services and catering services. A lot of their vendors are community based. Meaning for example, they provide meals to schools or some living communities here in Chicago.

[00:33:25] Renee Hatcher: And one of the reasons why I think that's a really good example to highlight is that it's owned by Black women. And all of them have unfortunately had experiences with the criminal legal system. Right? So a lot of them are returning citizens. A lot of them have had experiences with the criminal legal system that we know vastly limit people's access to jobs, opportunities when they come back home. 

[00:33:49] Renee Hatcher: And so, you know, part of what I think is really special about Chi Fresh is like that they've been able to successfully start during the pandemic and to establish a really, you know, wonderful worker co-op. Um, but also simply that it allows them to make decisions about their own future.

[00:34:07] Renee Hatcher: It gives them agency and self-determination in terms of like their sustaining and actually having access to like the money they need to sustain themselves. 

[00:34:17] Taja Lindley: Now Renee has mentioned two worker cooperatives that she's worked with, but let's backtrack. What exactly is a worker co-op? 

[00:34:24] Renee Hatcher: So worker co-ops are simply businesses, typically they're for profit, but we can think about them as nonprofits as well.

[00:34:30] Renee Hatcher: But a worker co-op is a business that's owned and controlled by the workers. Simply put meaning that the folks who actually are receiving the profits are the same folks who are working in the business. Right. But what it means ultimately is because, you know, you not only are owning your labor, you both then have a say about your working conditions about how you set things up at work, you know, just so much more is possible.

[00:34:55] Renee Hatcher: So, you know, for example, in terms of things like setting hours of work. Actually, I work with a number of worker co-ops, for example, that think about and start to provide additional services to their worker members, things like transportation or childcare, or they think differently about what we would think about like traditional HR systems in part, because the very people who are gonna have to experience those conditions are the ones who get to make the decision.

[00:35:22] Renee Hatcher: Um, so worker co-ops simple working definition: businesses that are owned and controlled by the workers themselves. And there's a lot of variation within that. You know, it can look different, but a lot of worker co-ops, I would say smaller ones, startup worker co-ops, are directly controlled, meaning that folks are using a democratic decision making process to actually make decisions about the business, to govern and to manage the business.

[00:35:50] Taja Lindley: And while Toni and Azua are not operating in a formal worker cooperative, they too have a practice of creating their own routines, their own rules, and their own rituals for their daily working conditions. 

[00:36:02] Azua Echeveria: We go by our own clock first and foremost. We don't go by an outside exterior clock or set of parameters for our day. 

[00:36:14] Taja Lindley: Their days includes slowly rising in the morning, taking their time to get the day started, checking in, eating yummy foods, running errands, including shipping their online orders. 

[00:36:24] Taja Lindley: Some days include making products or making time for play like skateboarding at a nearby park, as well as making time for self care and for parenting, especially since Azua is a mother of two young adult children. 

[00:36:36] Taja Lindley: In addition to redefining the workday and how work gets done, creative entrepreneurs like Toni and Azua, as well as the worker cooperatives, like the ones Renee supports with her legal clinic, are also redefining what it means to be successful. 

[00:36:49] Taja Lindley: These redefinitions are departures from capitalist notions of productivity and accomplishment. 

[00:36:55] Renee Hatcher: Some of the tensions that I think come up a lot of times just um whether or not we should be using the same types of metrics as the mainstream economy, like the capitalist firms.

[00:37:07] Renee Hatcher: Like, I don't think that that's, those aren't necessarily what we're trying to do. We're not trying to accomplish like the largest cooperative corporations. That's not the point of this. The point of it is to improve people's lives and to make sure that people actually have access to the things that they need.

[00:37:23] Renee Hatcher: And so what I have been trying to really focus in on is like, well, what are those things? How do we change the metrics around success for cooperative businesses? Because I don't necessarily know for example, that, you know, it's how long the business actually lasts, even though cooperatives tend to uh be more resilient and still operating.

[00:37:45] Renee Hatcher: More often they are better off than traditional businesses. Right? Five years out. They're still operating during the pandemic, for example. There's research that's come out that cooperatives were more resilient during the pandemic. More of them were able to actually survive the economic downturn and like literally are still in existence when you compare them to traditional firms.

[00:38:06] Renee Hatcher: But you know, part of what I'm most interested in is thinking about how do we actually identify and measure the residual effects of cooperatives? How many people they employed? What are some of the additional things that they're providing for members? Which they often do. What are some of the ways in which they're engaging in community?

[00:38:26] Renee Hatcher: Like not just this idea that it's more and more and more, we have to scale and scale and scale, but it's more so about, like how do we create different systems of the economy?

[00:38:36] Taja Lindley: When I asked Azua and Toni about how they define success for themselves, they were very clear that big box store dreams were not aligned with how they want to live, create, and do business. 

[00:38:48] Azua Echeveria: I did envision growth of the products that I create to be available on a more broad geographic scale or accessibility to the client. 

[00:38:58] Azua Echeveria: That definitely began to morph and change the deeper I got into my own spiritual gifts and path.

[00:39:05] Azua Echeveria: My goals are just different. I want a life that is full of ease and that uh, I, in which I feel fulfilled. And so I began to realize that I didn't necessarily need to have that vision to uh, satisfy my own definition of success. 

[00:39:23] Azua Echeveria: That success to me was dictated by the relationship I could cultivate with my clients. By seeing clients come back to repeat and buy products again and again, and again. To uh, be able to verbalize the impact that the products I create have on their lives and the lives of the people that they love. To me is far more priceless than um, selling more products to more people, perhaps at less of a quality and product.

[00:39:50] Azua Echeveria: As I continue to make products and under the previous mindset I had of wanting to go into stores or whatever, I did start to realize that my expectation for the quality of the product would also have to change. And that no matter what my intentions were maintaining the handcrafted artisan experience that I was pouring into the bottle, but that would have to give at some point to mass produce.

[00:40:16] Azua Echeveria: So I started to realize that I should dig deeper more into my niche, and I should dig deeper more into my gifts in order to create products that could fetch a higher price point due to the level of energy that was being put into the product. 

[00:40:36] Toni Johnson: In the mid two thousands, like 2010 ish time I had gone overseas for a while. So I had actually found some people that could have helped me maintain the integrity of the handcrafted production, but I've could have done a larger runs of things and duplicates of things, but still handcrafted. But I would have had to outsource to meet the demand of having, you know, within stores or boutiques. I had done boutiques. So what I would do is do still one-offs or I would do pieces that would vary in look, but similar, and that was cool.

[00:41:08] Toni Johnson: But to be honest with you, I find the most gratifying feeling when I do one of a kind pieces or maybe I do two or three of these pieces.

[00:41:18] Toni Johnson: And I liked the small close proximity the pieces have to me. They literally go from the Earth to my hands, well, to the Earth, to the gem dealer that I get them from, to my hands, to the person who buys it from me. So the energetic properties to me are still so pure. And then I clear my pieces and I, I amplify them with sound.

[00:41:41] Toni Johnson: So it's like, there's no way for me to mass produce that. And I don't want to. 

[00:41:47] Taja Lindley: Beyond selling products and services, there are other ways we can organize, manage and share resources in our economy. Participatory budgeting is one of those ways. 

[00:41:57] Taja Lindley: Participatory budgeting is a democratic allocation of money. Usually referring to public money where the public decides how money is invested in their communities, namely which businesses and projects get to receive resources.

[00:42:10] Taja Lindley: The Boston Ujima project has adapted this democratic process towards an investment fund called the Ujima Fund. 

[00:42:17] Nia Evans: Ujima's Swahili for cooperative work and responsibility. So really important, especially in a country like this, where individualism is a, a core tenant. 

[00:42:26] Nia Evans: I think to really think about how it is we're working. We're, we're very intentionally deliberately working with, with other people towards a common goal. 

[00:42:33] Taja Lindley: That's Nia Evans, the Executive Director of the Boston Ujima Project. She was volunteering with the organization before she came on staff as the Founding Executive Director in March of 2017. 

[00:42:45] Taja Lindley: She learned about Ujima when she was searching for an opportunity to work with folks more collectively around local economic justice efforts. 

[00:42:52] Nia Evans: Economics, I would say at its core is about how we relate to each other. So there's the resources piece. And then I would say underneath that is how we interact with each other. 

[00:43:02] Nia Evans: And what I know to be true is that as human beings we're inherently valued. We don't have to prove it to anyone. We don't require defense. Those who would dehumanize others are the ones that actually need to defend themselves.

[00:43:17] Taja Lindley: And it's with this understanding of everyone's inherent value, and that our economy is based on interactions and relationships, that the Ujima Fund is stewarding resources with a multi-class community. This community participates in the Ujima Fund via membership. 

[00:43:32] Nia Evans: So, in terms of membership, we have two broad tiers. We have voting memberships and we have solidarity memberships.

[00:43:37] Nia Evans: Short answer to, can anybody be a member? Yes. 

[00:43:40] Nia Evans: So membership is via application and, and membership dues. Voting memberships are for people who live in Boston proper, uh, ideally who identify as either working class or a person of color. 

[00:43:52] Nia Evans: Uh, solidarity memberships are for people who live outside of Boston proper and/or if they do live in Boston, they don't identify as working class or a person of color. 

[00:44:02] Nia Evans: And that's a, that's a nice self-organizing principle that we added that we find people take up. So we find, for example, that white people who live in Boston will take out a solidarity membership, or we find that people of color who don't identify as working class who live in Boston will take out a solidarity membership.

[00:44:16] Taja Lindley: And there's a difference between members and investors of the Ujima Fund. 

[00:44:20] Nia Evans: Voting members are members who vote on what it is we invest in. And it has nothing to do with whether or not they themselves have invested. They can invest if they want to, they don't have to. So that also means that they do invest doesn't matter how much they've invested. Each voting member gets equal votes in what we invest in. In other words, one person, one vote. 

[00:44:39] Nia Evans: So what's important about that is you know, we can look at a whole bunch of, you know, different decision making processes, particularly when it comes to development, particularly when it comes to business, particularly when it comes to planning where we see that decision making power kind of accrues to wealthy people. It kind of accrues to people who have kind of accumulated the most comparatively. And here we're saying it doesn't matter. 

[00:45:00] Nia Evans: Um, as I said, there's another group of people who are investors. And investors can be members. They don't have to be. So again, different groups of people. There's some, there's some overlap. 

[00:45:11] Nia Evans: Minimum investment in the fund, and, and I'll say, we're not taking investment right now, we're closed. But minimum investment in the fund is $50. Maximum investment is $250,000 for an individual. And so again, just really driving home, a person who has invested $50 and is a voting member gets the same voting power as a person who has invested $250,000 and is a voting member. 

[00:45:33] Nia Evans: And so that is one of the things that makes the Ujima Fund unique. 

[00:45:37] Nia Evans: And so when we launched in 2018 we made history as the nation's first democratically governed investment fund. It's a $5 million fund. Uh, four, 4.5 million of which is in, is investment capital. Uh, $500,000 is grant for loan loss reserve. Um, so trying to get as much of $4.5 million out the door into businesses, real estate, community infrastructure investments as possible.

[00:46:01] Nia Evans: Uh, we finished raising that last year. And so now, ongoing activity is deploying that, getting that out the door. Um, and so that's a whole process and that's, that's part of our democratic process is, you know, having our members name businesses that we should, we should invest in.

[00:46:16] Nia Evans: So that's also a part of that kind of direct say. 

[00:46:18] Taja Lindley: So to recap. The Ujima Fund is a pool of money that will be used to finance small businesses, real estate and infrastructure projects in Boston's working class communities that are Black, Indigenous and communities of color. These investments will be made to projects at the direction of its members. And membership includes a diverse range of folks. 

[00:46:37] Taja Lindley: What makes the Ujima Fund unique is that decision-making power is not wielded by the wealthiest of its members. Decision-making power does not correlate with how much someone has invested. And there's more. 

[00:46:48] Nia Evans: We also very intentionally designed it to be redistributive, which again, fairly unusual.

[00:46:52] Nia Evans: So when you look at our returns chart, we have three pools. 

[00:46:57] Nia Evans: So we have a pool that's called Kujichagulia uh, a pool that's called Umoja and a pool that's called Nia. 

[00:47:03] Nia Evans: The Kujichagulia pool that's that pool is the one that's the most accessible minimum investment is $50. That is reserved for unaccredited investors in Massachusetts.

[00:47:13] Nia Evans: Unaccredited means essentially you're not super you're, you're not wealthy. So un- so unaccredited means you don't have a million dollars net worth and/or if you're working salary is $200,000 or above for two or three years. And, and there are rules. 

[00:47:27] Nia Evans: The rules for investing privately in a bus- in a business was you need to be an accredited investor. That got kind of loosened a little bit over the, over the past few years.

[00:47:37] Nia Evans: But you know, again, this is, this is where we, where we see some kind of classism coming in uh, in terms of who, who can access an investment opportunity. So, as I said, this pool we've said is for unaccredited investors in Massachusetts. And that was our way of really trying to reserve opportunity for working class people of color uh, in Massachusetts.

[00:47:55] Nia Evans: And again, that $50 pretty, pretty accessible. Our target returns for that pool was 3%. 

[00:48:01] Nia Evans: The Umoja pool, the, the minimum investment is $1,000. And we have two levels, one for unaccredited investors and then a pool for accredited investors, both minimum $1,000, maximum $250,000. The target returns for, for that pool is 2% essentially. 

[00:48:18] Nia Evans: And then we have the Nia pool where minimum investment is $5,000 is really kind of targeted at philanthropic and other, other large institutions. The return target for that, for that pool is between 1% and 1.5%.

[00:48:29] Nia Evans: So then what you notice is the return targets are going down in relationship to higher investment and that's unusual. That is very intentionally designing it to be redistributive. So that's us redefining risk, redefining reward. Because generally what you see it go the other way, the, the $5,000 investment would get the higher returns.

[00:48:49] Nia Evans: And cuz the notion is, oh, well more risk. They, they put in more, they're risking more. And we flipped it and we said, no, we think that the person with less disposable income, actually who's making a $50 investment, we think maybe that's riskier. And lets also not forget uh, histories of disinvestment, lets let's also not forget how wealth as we understand it has, has largely accrued in this country in the first place, which has been first theft and then inheritance.

[00:49:19] Nia Evans: Um, and so let's also account for that. And so that's why the, the largest returns in this fund is gonna accrue to that pool.

[00:49:27] Taja Lindley: In addition to this democratically governed investment fund, the Boston Ujima Project also has a time bank, which is experimenting with how to use time as a form of currency for folks to meet their needs by sharing their resources, skills, talents, and assets. 

[00:49:42] Nia Evans: A time bank is an economy where the unit of exchange is time as opposed to money. Uh, so for example you can, you can say I, I'd like to offer guitar lessons. That's a, that's a gift that I have and, you know, I'm willing to offer that in exchange for time. 

[00:49:59] Nia Evans: And it doesn't have to be a direct to direct exchange. So for example, you know, I can say, oh great, you're offering guitar lessons. I'd like you to take you up on that. I, I'd like to get an hour of guitar lessons from you and you will earn an hour in the time bank. You don't have to exchange it back with me. You can exchange your hour with someone else in the time bank who has an offer. 

[00:50:18] Nia Evans: Um, there are a few things that are interesting about that. One, it's an additional avenue for people to acquire resources, not involving money.

[00:50:27] Nia Evans: And so I think this is how we can see where you know, it could be a real resource for low income communities and it, it's not a, it's not a widespread practice yet. So, you know, we definitely have some work to do, for communities to, to see like, oh, wow, these are real resources that we could, we can have in our communities.

[00:50:44] Nia Evans: You know, we had kind of done an exciting pilot with, with one community member, for example, who was trying to start a nonprofit um, steep learning curve. Uh, doesn't have, you know, a whole bunch of staff, you know, isn't getting a whole bunch of uh, funding, but we talked about how she could use the time bank to use all of the kind of volunteer work she was already doing, all of the volunteer hours that she was putting in. She could put that into the time bank and that's a, again, an additional avenue for her to access some of these resources that she wouldn't have been able to get otherwise, cuz she wouldn't have had the money to pay for them. So that's one of the, that's one of the things that makes it interesting.

[00:51:19] Nia Evans: I think the other thing that I, I find compelling about a time bank is you know, when we were first starting and we were going around and talking about the parts of the ecosystem, we would do this really neat activity to, to illustrate a time bank called "head hands heart." 

[00:51:32] Nia Evans: And we would ask everyone in the room um, name a gift of the, of the head that you, you would be able to offer your community. And the gift of the head is something that you know, that you could teach fellow community members. Hands, something you can make. Heart, something you're passionate about.

[00:51:47] Nia Evans: And so what what's great about that was doing that activity live and then having people see in the room, all the assets, all the gifts, all the skills. Because again, you know, what are the stories about our communities? What we lack. So many stories are, are what we don't have. 

[00:52:02] Nia Evans: Many of us have skills, gifts, talents, and can't command a wage on the market. Uh, the time bank is a way to properly value that. To say, yeah, we recognize this as a skill. We recognize this gift. We recognize this talent. And you can actually, again, exchange it to get, to get resources.

[00:52:22] Nia Evans: So for me, the, this notion of a time bank, if we, if we could really kind of build them out in our communities, really powerful, like example, I think, of, a additional economy.

[00:52:32] Nia Evans: Um, so the rules kind of say, you know, you have to be, you know, part of this local area, but we're, we're hardly the only time bank.

[00:52:44] Renee Hatcher: What does a post capitalist future look like? The way in which I root my own work and a lot of the organizing work that I do, or the clients that I work with um, use now what we refer to as like a solidarity economy.

[00:52:58] Renee Hatcher: Solidarity economy simply put is a both theory and a movement to organize society around the needs of people and the planet. 

[00:53:09] Renee Hatcher: A lot of this is not just how do we create that future? But like how, what are the actual steps that we take to get there? And so some of that is personal transformation. Some of that is interpersonal transformation. And a lot of that is institutional transformation.

[00:53:24] Renee Hatcher: How do we make both our institutions more democratic? How do we make more broadly like society, more democratic? So I've worked with participatory budgeting projects and also use different types of tools related to kind of like people's assemblies. 

[00:53:40] Renee Hatcher: So this idea of solidarity economy is really trying to deepen the ways in which we practice democracy, including economic democracy, but much more broader than that.

[00:53:50] Renee Hatcher: And it also has to take on a liberatory kind of principle around like what we also have to do some of that work in getting to a better future is to intentionally and explicitly dismantle systems of oppression and dominance, right? Like, so we have to address white supremacy. It's not enough that we're creating cooperatives.

[00:54:10] Renee Hatcher: We have to address racism. We have to address patriarchy. We have to address ableism. We have to look at all of the structures that are inherent to this very problematic system and we have to actively and intentionally try to incorporate that into our work as we try to build a better future. 

[00:54:31] Taja Lindley: Indeed. Each of our guests offered examples of how they are answering these questions for themselves and within their communities. It's as micro is choosing how to spend your time each day as a creative entrepreneur, and as macro as a democratically governed investment fund. 

[00:54:46] Taja Lindley: We can co-create economies with our lovers, our partners, our neighbors, and our communities. 

[00:54:52] Taja Lindley: And we depart from capitalism when we choose mutualism and cooperation over exploitation and competition. 

[00:54:58] Taja Lindley: When we decolonize our dreams, align with our values and define success on our own terms. 

[00:55:05] Taja Lindley: When we participate in commerce and economy with love and respect for one another and our planet. 

[00:55:11] Taja Lindley: When we are resourced to express and share our talents and our gifts. 

[00:55:15] Taja Lindley: Capitalism thrives in experiences and perceptions of scarcity. So attuning to our inherent abundance, our inherent worthiness is also how we depart from capitalism 

[00:55:27] Azua Echeveria: I would define abundance as awareness of infinite possibilities in all realms and on all planes, on all levels. 

[00:55:37] Azua Echeveria: Abundance to me is clarity, being able to clearly see, know, receive messages. 

[00:55:47] Azua Echeveria: Abundance for me is ideas. Ideas are abundance. If you can tap into, come up with new ideas for whatever it is you're doing. New sparks of interest, curiosity, new things coming in, just openness to new, new, new that is abundance.

[00:56:04] Azua Echeveria: That is the seed for which all abundance can come through you.

[00:56:07] Taja Lindley: Exactly. We will need clarity, new ideas, curiosity, and an awareness of infinite possibilities to create new economies that serve all of us and meet our needs. 

[00:56:19] Taja Lindley: And with that y'all this season is complete! 

[00:56:23] Taja Lindley: I give thanks for your time, attention, and listenership. If you're enjoying your experience, tell a friend and leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts or on our website. Be sure to fill out our listener survey to help us strengthen and improve this podcast.

[00:56:38] Taja Lindley: If you'd like to share your story or perspective with us, write us a message or leave us a voicemail at 

[00:56:45] Taja Lindley: Find us on Instagram @BlackWomensLabor and sign up for our newsletter to receive project updates in your inbox. 

[00:56:52] Taja Lindley: And support this work y'all at where you will be able to access exclusive content and full length interviews with each of our guests, including everyone you heard from in this episode and this season. 

[00:57:05] Taja Lindley: You can also support this podcast by dropping some coins in our PayPal or purchasing the podcast music on 

[00:57:13] Taja Lindley: This podcast is created and hosted by yours truly, Taja Lindley, also known as the HBIC. 

[00:57:21] Taja Lindley: Audio engineering by Lilah Larson. 

[00:57:23] Taja Lindley: Music by Emma Alabaster, who also served as the Pre-Production Associate Producer. 

[00:57:28] Taja Lindley: Additional music production by Chip Belton. 

[00:57:30] Taja Lindley: Vocals by Patience Sings. 

[00:57:33] Taja Lindley: Mixing and mastering by Chip Belton. 

[00:57:35] Taja Lindley: Lyrics by Taja Lindley and Emma Alabaster. 

[00:57:38] Taja Lindley: Logo and graphic design templates by Homegirl HQ. 

[00:57:41] Taja Lindley: This podcast is produced by Colored Girls Hustle and supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. 

Renee Hatcher Profile Photo

Renee Hatcher

Assistant Professor, Lawyer, Director

[Prof.] Renee Hatcher is a human rights and solidarity economy lawyer. She is an Assistant Professor of Law and the Director of the Community Enterprise and Solidarity Economy Law Clinic at UIC Law, a legal clinic that provides free legal support to grassroot organizations, community-based businesses, cooperatives, and other solidarity economy enterprises. Prof. Hatcher is a member of the leadership team for Resist Reimagine Rebuild (R3), Partners in Abolition, Transformation, Healing and Solidarity (PATHS), and Law for Black Lives Movement Lawyering Squad. She also serves as a board member for the New Economy Coalition and the Detroit Justice Center.

Listen to her full length one-on-one interview on
Interview length: 01:21:45

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Nia Evans

Executive Director

Nia Evans is the Executive Director of the Boston Ujima Project. Her educational background is in the areas of labor relations, education leadership, and policy. Her advocacy includes a focus on eliminating barriers between analysts and people with lived experiences as well as increasing acknowledgement of the value of diverse types of expertise in policy. She is a co-creator, along with artist Tomashi Jackson, of Frames Debate Project, a multimedia policy debate project that explores the intersection between drug policy, mental health services and incarceration in the state of Massachusetts.

Ms. Evans has a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a Master of Arts in Education Leadership, with a course of study in Leadership, Policy, and Politics from Teachers College at Columbia University. She also studied abroad at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, where she focused on International Labor Relations.

Listen to her full length one-on-one interview on
Interview length: 01:29:58

Azua Echevarria Profile Photo

Azua Echevarria

Scent Alchemist, Artist

Azua Echevarria is a Northeast native whose work as a scent alchemist materializes and embodies the wisdom of her life experience via spirit care products.

Her brand Age Into Beauty offers products, services, events and experiences that celebrate authenticity, self mastery, and personal sovereignty.

Creatively she has many forms of expression and is currently in an intentional practice of speaking her truth.

Listen to her full interview with Toni Johnson on
Interview length: 01:43:57

Toni Johnson Profile Photo

Toni Johnson

Healing Artist, Creative

Toni Johnson is a Texas bred healing artist currently living in the Northeast.

In the early 2000s a divine master plan intervened and completely changed the course of Toni’s life sparking the search for a new form of creative expression and she decided to start teaching the art form of making jewelry.

In 2005 Rework Creative was born, emerging into an eclectic collection with a wild indigenous vibe reminiscent of future relics and now consistently breaking the mold of uniformity and redefining individuality.

Listen to her full interview with Azua Echevarria on
Interview length: 01:43:57