Ep 222: Omar Freilla – Building Community Self-Determination Through Cooperatives

Ep 222: Omar Freilla – Building Community Self-Determination Through Cooperatives

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The Impossible Network
Ep 222: Omar Freilla - Building Community Self-Determination Through Cooperatives

Omar Freilla is co-founder and steering committee member of Collective Diaspora, a global community of Black cooperatives & Black-led cooperative support organizations. 

Omar is a serial trailblazer, social entrepreneur, and movement builder dedicated to community self-determination and regenerative economies.

Drawing from his experiences growing up in the South Bronx and witnessing struggles for community empowerment, he has dedicated himself to creating just and regenerative economic systems. 

Omar’s time with the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance and Sustainable South Bronx inspired him to utilize cooperatives as a vehicle for transformative economic development.

He established Green Worker Cooperatives and launched the first worker cooperative business accelerator in the United States, pioneering innovative approaches to cooperative development. Omar co-founded several local and national cooperative support organizations, including the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the Democracy At Work Institute, and the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives. 

Omar is also an adjunct lecturer at the City College of New York, serves on the City of New York’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board, and is a member of New York State’s Just Transition Working Group.

This interview opened my eyes to the potential of new worker-led economic models for historically marginalized and economically exploited communities. It also made me re-evaluate the privileges I’ve experienced.

What We Discuss

What we discuss 

00:00  Intro 

02:50  Who is Omar?

03:50  Who or what made him? 

06:50  The impact of neoliberalism on marginalized Communities 

08:50  A defining memory that affected his life direction 

17:50  Nature or nurture impact on his development 

21:30  Early activism against apartheid

25:20  Early ambitions 

27:30  Becoming environmentally conscious 

30:50  Activism triggered by the Rodney King beating 

34:35  Seeking out new economic alternatives in Cooperatives

40:50  The lack of Venture funding for cooperatives

43:40  Creating new Benchmarks for Return on Investment

45:10  What Omar is working to achieve with Collective Diaspora

49:45  Forming a Cooperative Business 

54:00  Becoming a Fellow of Echoing Green 

1:00:30  Imperative for Black and Latin Cooperatives  

1:07:54  Omar’s ambitions for 2030 

1:10:00  Raising funding 

1:16:00  How to become part of the Collective Diaspora 

1:18:00  Remaining resolute 

1:19:45 Omar’s gifts 

1:20:40  What he’s complimented for

1:22:00  Omar’s advice for anyone wanting to support 

Social Links 



Collective Diaspora


The Bronx 

Black Panther party

Young Lords 

Green Worker Cooperatives

U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives,

Marcus Garvey 

Malcom X 

Seed Commons 

Don’t Stop Here

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