Co-op Faces

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One of the great things about the Association of Cooperative Educators conference is that I have been able to meet and talk with many people that I've known "online" for the very first time. 

 At Tuesday evening's reception, I met Anne Reynolds of the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives.  What a treasure! 

 Of course, I have been hearing about Anne since I first learned about what co-ops were in my 2001 Cooperatives class at the Southern New Hampshire University's Communication Economic Development Program.  I continued to hear her name in co-op circles.  I've been to their website many times. 

But meeting her in person was an experience.  I had told her that my dream was to bring more co-ops to urban areas in particular to help African American and other people of color deal with great unemployment and underemployment.  In a few short minutes that we talked over the fruit and cheese table, she had given me ideas to make co-ops more accessible to people by not getting so bogged down in by-laws and other governance issues. Simply work with people where they are, she suggested.  For example, if people want to cater, they could get together and buy a "pig roaster."   They could work on some "agreements" and sign those.  And explain why it is better to have five people, rather than three, she said.  Numbers can make a difference to cover each other in case someone can show one day. 

We talked of other things, but that way of making it simple stood out.  Something that obviously come from her many years dealing with the issues.

 Audrey Malan was another name I seen over the years.  A few months ago, those of us helping to put together the Democracy at Work Network's technical assistance program had web trainings.  I was introduced to her in the elevator and we said "hi" quickly, but last night I got to talk a little bit more when about 11 of us went to dinner with David Korten.  She is another one very committed to co-ops and is full of life.

Holly Jo Sparks and I have been on conference calls and in my dealings with NASCO have heard her name many times, and got to meet her yesterday during lunch. 

I had talked with Bruce Reynolds at USDA Rural Development when I submitted an article for their magazine on cooperatives.  I met him too. 

 It really is good to see the face of the people from our computers.

Of course is always good to see again those people that we work with even more closely:  fellow GEOed, Erin Rice; NASCO's Tom Pierson, the Margarets -- Bau and Lund, Mingwei Huang and others.

Seeing people in persons allows for an invaluable exchange of energy and ideas and a great bonding. 







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