“It’s difficult to be an anti-capitalist business owner.” With one sentence, Tanuja Jagernauth, a founding member of the Sage Community Health Collective, summed up the complexities of engaging the market to promote social change. Tanuja was speaking as part of a panel discussion at Reading Change: Value of Nothing. Reading Change is an ongoing public events series, bringing together Crossroads Fund donors, grantees and the wider community to read books and discuss the movements and issues that Crossroads Fund has supported over the last 30 years.This month’s selection, The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy explores the disconnect between the way our economic system values goods and services and its impact on workers, communities and the environment. We invited some of our grantees and allies to share their own experiences creating innovative projects that use business practices to promote racial, social and economic justice.Tanuja was joined by Cynthia Main of the Rebuilding Exchange and Magda Melendez of Workers United for Eco Maintenance. All three shared their experiences working with organizations that combine traditional market based and non-profit practices. Sage Community Health Collective is a worker owned business that provides sliding scale, trauma informed healing services, including acupuncture and bodywork.The ReBuilding Exchange keeps building materials out of landfills by promoting deconstruction practices as an alternative to traditional demolition, providing job training programs and running a retail store.Workers United for Eco Maintenance is a worker owned, environmentally friendly cleaning cooperative. Workers United was started by members of Chicago Community and Workers’ Rights to provide living wage jobs for their members who were unemployed.All three groups struggle with some of the core questions of Value of Nothing: How do we create an economy that values our work, strengthens our communities and protects our environment? For the members of Sage, this means not only providing affordable healthcare to the members of their community, but also paying their workers equally regardless of how much money their work brings into the business. As Tanuja explained, “For me to be able to do an acupuncture session that earns $90, someone had to wash the sheets on the bed, someone had to answer the phone, someone had to book the appointment.”For ReBuilding Exchange, it means being a non-profit that in many ways functions like a regular business, running a self sustaining retail shop selling recycled building materials to the general public and earns enough money to pay for all of its employees and operations. It also means promoting deconstruction as not only an environmentally sound but an economically competitive alternative to building demolition.And for Workers United, it means seeing their cleaning cooperative as one piece in the larger workers’ rights struggle, which also includes advocacy for stronger worker rights legislation, picketing businesses that exploit their workers and helping members navigate the legal system.While none of the speakers felt that market based solutions can bring about systems change on their own, they all agreed that our economy affects so much of what we do, it’s important to create alternatives while engaging with it on our own terms.For more photos from the event, see the Crossroads Fund Facebook Page. For information about upcoming Reading Change events, see the Reading Change page.