Notes on Advancing the Development of Worker Cooperatives 3

Sketches of a Conversation

[Editor's note: below are notes taken at our Advancing the Development of Worker Cooperatives 3 conference.  This interactive one-day event was centered around the topic of regional cooperative/solidarity economy organizing, with a group conversation broken into four sessions - each addressing a particular question.  Two note-takers were assigned to each discussion section. The (lightly edited) notes from the discussion sessions follows each framing question below. For more about the conference process and structure, see here.]

Framing Question 1: In your experience, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the following three regional models (approaches) to economic development: 1) worker co-operative economic development; 2) cross-sector co-operative economic development (worker, consumer, financial, producer, and housing co-ops); or 3) co-operative/solidarity economic development?

Notes by Julius Jones and G. Paul Blundell

There are going to be disagreements, and they should be treated as opportunities

Participants are encouraged/suggested to share their context for their opinion i.e. where your experience comes from

DAWI offers a framework for thinking about co-op development
- concentric circles diagram
inner circle- co-ops
second business develpnt
Third - ecosystem devlmt - GEO as an example, macro level
We need all of these things to happen, and we should know which circle we are working within

Low touch High touch framework
Low touch - little more than conversation, all risk lives with the co-op
High touch - embraces more risk, more involved

Low touch offers the chance of engaging more orgs, and less impactful, while high touch is more hands on, but perhaps doesn’t allow for as many contacts.
Where do you as a supporter want to live on the spectrum

9:26am
Q:regional coop networks, where do they fit in here? how is the coop related to the policy? bc indiv. may have a demo structure, but have no advocacy level influence. How do you get equity and justice between concentric cirlces

A:regional fed. of coops so far don’t offer membership or a place for ecosystem players. Federations don’t have all the partners that they need at the table often times, but needs to be able to incorporate others at the table.

Comment: What of the role of the communities in which we are embedded? Some of our work is low-touch, and some is high touch within our small office. Some national work, some financial skin in the game, and investment in other projects. There is this question of power that is not going to be resolved within coops, but at the ecosystem level. How we interconnect and create the power we need to create a community and coop connection that is needed.

comment: high touch aggress. place based, we are a coop developer, in many senses. Go bigger, more cross-sector, using ‘place’ as a means of centering coops.

clarification: not talking about regional networks, talking about communities where people live and work

Comment: In detroit EW resonantes, felt that some funders were hands off detroit, exclusive coop economics is not cooperative. How do we bridge the gaps. We know coops is what is needed, but for us the money and support is not there. Also we need to edcuate the community about the potential of coops. We need help.

Comment: rethinking local is a concept and way of living that is spot on, food, healthcare etc, revisioning the system

Comment: focus on scale and equity piece, depending on where they are on the spectrum defines how high or low touch we are. To EW’s point, how are we confronting corporate capitalism? Every org should have relationships with groups who are challenging capitalism, or an understanding of their relationship.

Comment: CFNE is all along the spectrum (circles) very high touch at times. All three elements of the question are presented as either/or is unture because they are interconnected. Working class people face challenges with financing, for example. Lack of equity in access to funds. The idea of 3 sectors coming together is how to effect policy. People need to let their policy makers that they vote, and exercise weight thru voting. Race class status etc are relevant/central. POC immigrants, live in a geographically disadvantaged area, making it harder.

Comment: at the USSF, coops can be a harbinger of gentrification, esp. in borderline communitites. There needs to be sensitivity. Food coop as the particular example. On frameworks: coops are embraced by solidarity economy, but one of the differences is that cooops are one form but SE is about systems change. We call it resistance in SE. SE is focusing on the build but you need both resistance and build, together. SE is inherently about change of the capitalist system. Coops are not inherently. There may never be agreement b/w the two

9:57
We fall on low and high touch depending, scale is important. Coops are a form of resistance, and if you are not resistance, then you are status quo, and should not exist. People should craft the policies we need, by the community. we are far from that. we’re still in a box framework, but are we pushing boundaries? are we expanding? Challenge ourselves to ‘go there’ and use our time for movement building. How can we craft a cooperative economy and solidarity economy?

Comment: excited about this as a theme. we’ve transcended the framework but area 3--coop/solidairty economic development--is closest to what we’re doing. Radicalization of youth is MN, and eco development is a part of that. Democratization in all fronts, school, economy, within a framework of who owns and controls this world. Policy is a political powerbase potentially, use the coop model to leverage and build political power.

Comment: cross-sector org. in PA area, are we PA people focused or PA co-op people focused? We have b/w med to no touch. Food coops are discovered by white, mid-class folks, and if we just focus on that, we’d be narrow, but how can we be movement builders and meet the needs of coops

Comment: Portland has become gentrified, portland food coop is shiny and new, and the area where it is was low-income but is not now, for more reasons than the coop. Anti-cap, anarchist origins to city meetings with chambers of commerce folks and the mayor etc. How can we show coops as business development? If I framed it as anti-capitalist in certain spaces, it’d probably be not heard in the same way. Working with immigrants to farm, navigating what their culture and needs are, and access to land is a challenge, Works on food systems in Maine, everyone is looking to get what they want. Challenging the 3 largest food service corps with a local network. (big deal!) broadening the group will make the work stronger.

Clarification: is being cross sectional bending towards the old paradigm, or standing for something new?

Response: the latter, we are building a biz to counter the large corps.

Follow-up: did you consult the community?

Response: we are not one community focused, but institution focus.

10:19
Comment: coop devlpt education - low to high touch at times. how to build awareness of the possiblities to close the gap. we are low touch to build a bridge towards high touch resources. Profit paradigm instead of capitalism is the language we use. We are proactive and very basic in community organizing skills.

Comment: relationship of community to power. if we want a true solidarity economy, we have to take land into account.

Direct response: take land off the speculative market, there’s better models of land use.

Comment: domination and control are systemic problems we should avoid or grow out of, moving from ownership to Stewardship

Comment: an advocate for micro-experimentation and support, to learn how to trikcle it back up. Practice at the local level to inform what we want to do at the policy level. Co-ops are a tool to learn democracy, to learn stewardship. Love them but they’re just a tool. Gentrification: Co-ops as part of a colonialization in Canada, and gentrification in US. Are co-ops gentrifyers or liberators? How can we figure how to make it move forward.

Comment: Nerd for participatory process. cross sector solidarity economy work in NYC. Process of exploration, SNYC did interviews with SE groups across 5 boroughs/city-wide, community based POC orgs, immigrant orgs, timebanks, comm. gardens, and all manner of orgs of similar threads, in low-income POC communities. asking how are you already working together? how can you help one another? Feels that the collaboration of gardens, and timebanks is just as exciting, but co-ops are occupying alot of space, in the alternative economic justice work. Suggests looking in more places then just cooperatives, for solidarity economy partnerships, inclduing some interesting work in the non-biz sectors that work in the same population groups.


10:41
Comment:  how can we be self-aware of our problems, and beware to take our assets and problems to scale. If we don’t we will bring our issues with us. Racism and sexism cheif among them.


Participatory budgeting: the model/framework we are in is from the perspective of the engagers, and not the community.


Racial Justice: needs to be addressed, awareness has increased in the white (co-op) community america wide. Scale vs. Density - as you get larger, it gets less dense (finger on the pulse, nose on the ground etc)


Erasure: POC leadership is important for my coop, my work, my history, and to gauge it as the same story of a food co-op in another place where gentrification has occurred can distort the story. Became integral to the development of the co-op

Comment: named many co-op ventures in philly. INvestment cooperatives could serve well to bridge these divergent forces. In west philly there needs to be another org looking at macro co-op needs assessment.
10:58
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[paragraph breaks represent change of speaker]

Intro: This is an opportunity for us to talk with each other rather than to each other like a typical conference.

Question on the framework laid out: coop/business/ecosystem and low touch - high touch spectrum

In the coop/business/ecosystem framework how does DAWI prioritize? What do you think is most important? What is underdeveloped?

We think that business consulting is the area where the coop development is most lacking and thus the area that we put the most emphasis and attention. After that we focus on policy change (ecosystem) because we think it can be very powerful and it is often neglected. DAWI has a local initiatives and local coalitions project. The important realization is that you cannot do it all yourself. We need to cooperate.

Could you connect these frameworks to the regional coop development context? Also, how is the coop related to the policy (the members and their relationships and what is their relationship to policy advocacy)?

The second question should be a question for the group. The first question: My impression is that regional coop federations cannot hold all the people necessary for success. The regional coop federation will reject policymakers, solidarity economy people, others who fall outside the narrow definition.

The communities in which our work is embedded is very important/influential. When we talk about policy work we’re talking about the community. And when we talk about policy and communities we’re talking about power relationships outside of the coops, often in less democratic spaces. Coops cannot resolve this via internal work but they can be a part of the work of bringing equity and democracy to the larger community.

I’m in an aggressively place based high touch group. We’re either a space developer or a cooperative developer depending on who we’re talking to. My inclination when trying to do community or regional work is that we should not go big but rather go small and focus in but to do so in a cross sector way. Using a model in some ways similar to “tech hubs” where there are multiple groups working on different but similar projects all in a single space thus encouraging cross pollination, alliance building, etc.

When I say communities I do not mean “regional networks” I mean the places that people live.

I’m from Detroit. The experience in Detroit is very much what has been described above. The city situation is pretty undemocratic. We had experiences where developers did not want to come into Detroit. We know we are in a system that does not care if we go back to work so we need to start cooperatives and take control of our own economy. This means that we not only have to build coops and the ecosystem to support them but also have to do the community education and outreach to convince/remind people about the value of cooperation.

There’s a group in the Hudson Valley called Rethinking Local that is working on… [i didn’t quite get what they were saying]

Our organization’s primary focus is to confront corporate capitalism. These first framing questions are not directly taking on the question of how we take on corporate capitalism. I think we’ll address it later today. I think it’s important that we all work to build relationships with other groups that are taking on corporate capitalism.

I think that the way this section’s question is posed it seems to set up the three approaches (worker coop economic development, cross-sector coop economic dev., coop/solidarity economic dev.) as opposed to each other but I think they are actually all necessary. They are interconnected. There is also a whole equity thing where different folks have different access to financing. People (often working class, often POC, often immigrants, often geographically disadvantaged) frequently have a hard time raising capital (no excess funds in their family that they can borrow).

Solidarity economy networks entering disadvantaged communities can be a harbinger of gentrification and lead to displacement. In particular, I’m talking about food coops showing up. Coops are embraced by solidarity economy work but solidarity economy and coops are different. Coops are a particular form. The radical left is primarily focused on resistance (oppositional politics). The solidarity economy is more focused on the build (propositional politics). The solidarity economy is necessarily anti-capitalist. Coops are not necessarily anti-capitalist.

There is a conflict that I am learning about in the coop world. Some people are into coops because the system is broken and failing them. Some people are into coops because its a cool way to make money. Not everyone is into equity/equality and bringing economic development to low income communities. I don’t think the coop or solidarity economy work can proceed without POC especially considering the changing demographic reality of the country.

9:57

Just got back from Italy. I think that where you fall on the low touch - high touch spectrum and which regional approach you take are a question of scale: what are you trying to change/dismantle? Coops are a form of resistance. They were created as a strategy of resistance. If you are not engaged in resistance as a coop you should not exist and you will eventually be recouperated by capitalism. When we identify our point of resistance then we can figure out what our particular strategy should be. In my work I try to get the people who are most affected by a decision to make the decision. The realm of what is possible, the imagination we have, is so much more constrained here than in Italy. Let us use our precious time here at AWDC to really stretch our imagination. If we are timid and limited then we might as well have stayed home.

If we’re trying to transform society then the framework of solidarity economy makes more sense than the narrower worker coop economy. What I think is most powerful is building a movement around a narrative of democratization. We work with high school students trying to radicalize them and then work with other organizations.

Our organization is definitely #2 on the list (cross-sector coop economic development). Our question is: are we valuable to people in Philly only or also people beyond Philly? In Philly a lot of people are discovering food coops. Mostly those are white, middle class people. If we are a purely reactionary organization then we would serve those people. If we are not purely reactionary then we can reach out to other communities that might benefit from cooperatives more. This is our challenge.

I came to coops through anti-globalization activism. We saw it as a useful tool. We have also seen a lot of gentrification happening in the neighborhood around our development coop displacing many neighbors including the community center that I helped start that birthed the worker coop. It’s been weird going from anti-capitalist protest and organizing to where I am now sitting on the economic development committee and working with chamber of commerce members and being friends with the mayor. If I was straight up with those capitalists that I work with I would not be heard in the same way in those spaces. I would not be as effective. Figuring out how to be radical in an effective way is an interesting challenge. I work a lot in the food system in my region and am starting up a coop to serve the food system there that is trying to take on Sodexo and others displacing them from six state college campuses. To do this we have acquired as allies people from the corporate world who want to do something good (former corporate actor, former school system head). It is tricky to navigate this area with people in different places politically. Here cross sector work is crucial and complicated.

reply: Are we getting lost here thinking we’re doing cross sector work when really we’re just fitting into the established system. Are we trying to beat out the corporations or are we trying to imagine something that the corporations never thought of?

reply: We’re trying to do something different, cooperative, democratic.

10:19
I do cooperative development education around the state and region. We did a gap analysis and found that there were lots of folks with ideas and needs and there were lots of institutions and infrastructure to support them but they weren’t connecting. We try to bridge that gap via young people and education. We don’t explicitly talk about capitalism (we use “profit system” as a dog whistle - some young people figure out what we’re talking about).

We have this great discussion going about the community’s relationship to power. It’s a great conversation but it’s uncomfortable. I think I am a member of that sort of food coop that started in a rough neighborhood and became a tool of gentrification unwittingly. To create a true solidarity economy we need to address the control and ownership of land.

I think that the question of ground rent preceeds capitalism as an important tool of exploitative systems. What we really need is to eliminate the ownership of land entirely. Return land to a use paradigm rather than an ownership paradigm. Whatever we can do to advance that (coops, CLTs, what have you) is valuable.

We’re all caught up in this capitalist paradigm and talk about “ownership” but what we really need to do is to start talking about “stewardship”. Ownership is about domination and control.

I’m wearing my activist scholar hat for this comment. When I started out I started as an ecosystem person. I thought that if we didn’t do big stuff it didn’t matter. Then I realized that you can’t do meaningful big stuff unless we do meaningful small stuff first to figure out what is necessary at the top level. I think this bring us back to community and place. We need to start there and then build whatever regional networks and resources that those communities and places need to thrive and to spread. Coops are a tool to make sure we learn democracy and learn what stewardship really means. They are just a tool in the bigger project of movement building and social change. I’m working on a project with Canadians researching how coops in north America, particularly in the western plains, were used as tools to facilitate the colonization of the continent. This relates to coops today, particularly in gentrification, in thinking about how they are structured and what movements they are supporting.

I’m doing a study/survey of the solidarity economy in NYC. The partipicatory budgeting process in NYC is taking off and now folks who are involved are looking to involve aspects of the solidarity economy into this work. Community land trusts. Community gardens. [I had trouble drawing a thread from their comments.]

10:41
Something I think I’m hearing about regional approach #1 is that going coop by coop is slow. It’s one at a time. However, it has the highest density of democracy. Regional approach #3 offers exciting possibilities for transformative politics and racial justice. The cross sector economic development strategy is difficult here because there is such a breadth to span. We look at other regions in the world (Mondragon, Emila Romagna) and dream big but we don’t have the foundational pieces in this country to support that big a span of organizing. If we are rushing to build to scale but we have problems then we are bringing those problems to scale. This is an issue for the grocery food coop sector which has major problems of white supremacy and class culture and they are bringing those problems to scale - to the detriment of other coop sectors that get associated with those problems. All our work is threatened by the existence of fundamental problems (male dominance, racism, classism, etc) and if they are not addressed they weaken our work and alienate members and potential members and allies.
Participatory budgeting is super important because it teaches people a different definition of democracy (not just voting for reps in November but having a greater voice in direct decision making).
The consciousness has begun to shift around institutionalized racism in the US in the last year to year and a half. This gives us an opportunity to speak to people about how coops can address power, equity, opportunity, democracy, etc.
In Philly a solidarity economy was built up 30-40 years ago in West Philly and it gave/gives us a base on which to build specific institutions. This is particular and neighborhood specific.
Erasure. All places have a history. In West Philly if you walk in with no knowledge you might think it’s Brooklyn and the white folks are recent transplants. However, the white population in West Philly is largely made up of people who stayed behind during white flight for political reasons - to support the people who didn’t have the ability to leave the neighborhood. Knowing the community and its history

Also on West Philly. the density of cooperatives is valuable and important. It’s exciting. It is able to spread. It is why we find Mondragon exciting: everything is right there! I’m excited about the possibility of investment cooperatives.
10:58

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Framing Question 2: What have you found to be effective & democratic approaches and practices for regional economic development in your region?

Notes by Emily Kawano and Cliff Martin

Jumping in at 11:22
People act like capitalist, I do know people who come to this for money, but I really believe that co-ops can put these issues on the table for us to talk about, thats why I am excited about them

Preference to tight worker co-op focus:
high touch
local density
wonder about it, works needs to be done at a bigger place but I am reluctant because I want that face to face connection

heart is broken with food co-ops

Tool:
Do you identify as a founder/owner or as an ally?
Do this even if people don’t know it.
People need to declare these interests early and often
This can be bad is allys start to make decisions for worker owners
3 kinds:
already WOs
wanna become WOs
allies
This is good cause it helps us identify clear self interest and preserve the self determination of WOs in this process.

The question: What happens when allies define their own roles in the process? Or is the role defined by the WOs?
WHo are the allies accountable to and how? Need real structure
Difficult when there are funders and gov at table

What about the role of community?
families/dependents
neighbors
people affected

Youre right! Maybe the model needs to include that group of people as another interest group.

A  lot of ppl discovering can really help a normal business cause its just a good model.
open source tech software company with multiple people around the worl, want a democratic workplace, everyone wants good leadership but dont want a boss, but it doesnt neccesarily reflect social justice values

Its our task to bring in these people (the non activists) into the social justice side of this movement

11:33
What does it mean to be accountable to our communities?
Communities are the bedrock, other communities use co-ops as just a peice of community
there have always been PoC co-ops(specifically black and latino)
the question is not: how did PoC get in the white co-op movement? Thats a dumb question
The Maine example is a great example of a real solidarity co-op
We have to meet basic needs
dont wanna be a gas station, well people need to get gas!
Best practic:
COmmunity says heres what we want and need, thats what we need
have some re-imagining to do
What does it mean for us to deal with colonialism and heteropatriarchy NOW?
The co-op movement hasn't shifted that much
We need the actual; practice of doing this work, not just talking about it
11:39
THeres still a state of mind in oppressed communities
Conferences, people dont know who and what detroit is
the theme in detroit is that we need to destroy the mindset that started oppression in the first place
a lot of solidarity econ orgs in detroit STAY PART OF THE STORIES OF OPPRESSION

Got a lot of work in deep places to do
Ownership is deep
How do we help people create what they need that makes them feel secure
Privilege means there are parts of this that are not even realized

the nature of effective democratic practices
If indeed co-ops are orgs of people made around their needs, i dont know how you ahve a problem getting people interested
The key to efective dem prac. is that you rt you are connected to people who want to do something, and you do it
theres been a drift
started with workinf ppl meeting their needs
grassroots comms meeting needs is the continuum that we are a part of
then theres this drift of “oh we dont need a boss, lets do something cool casue we can”
in doing so, they tend to leave behind community, leave behind the political work
ppl are being left behind, thats not in the nature of those roots,

tired of saying the same old “need diversity”
but we are doing something more legit, more towards those roots
we are shining light on it by authentically engaging allies in what they say they are here to do
What I had to do, was take the evil out of it, the power
allies mentor the low income black women, you wanna do the work in our org? you have to do it with one of our crew along your side, you have to bring along 2 or 3 women of color if you are going to build power with us

10:50

what resonates, this thought: our consumer dollars
we prop up worker co-ops as more real, more democratic
when i look at my dollars I wish i could out more back into co-ops
we dont prioritize this enough in the movement
to the question:
I dont even know, what are we talking about, programs, structures?
I am excited about wholesale co-op stuff,
this could be a scale up plan a regional devel plan
this could be great.
But I wanna know why not

Who is excited, who is not and why?

Why not, example of a hardware store, was ace, now its not, the ace franchise owner said that they had no say in the products in what was sold

dont like it casue there is currently no co-op identity, dosent seem like there is participation from those doing it in the wider co-op movement

seems like its just capitalists making stuff more efficient for themselves

I think of transformers, they all get together and are more powerful,’
each sector of co-ops ahs its own super power, if we got us all to work to become the vultron of cooperativness
worker coops have democracy
comsumer have a mass base
purchaseer have scale

a purchase co-op guy helped make a worker owner transition really great.

While the current ppl doing purchase co-ops suck, WE CAN STILL USE IT AS A GREAT MODEL

KFC, taco bell, pizza hut, thats a co-op

more joint purchasing in food co-ops in philly

FROM ROACHES TO VOLTRON

11:07

Effective and dem experiecne is intereting in the NYC experiement
Questions: who is getting funding? How is that decided?
DAWI orgaanized a listening tour, engaging the real people
Where is teh accountability in the NYC experiement structurally?
How does that structure respond to the needs of community

Whats missing is conversations, eduactional convos in particular
the best approach to these regional econ devel schemes is to promote solidarity wthin them, make an effort to understand what solidarity means in that space
who we buy from, who we give voice and space to, every identity is not represented in every space, the larger context is that the economy represents everybody
we can't just look at this selfishly as a worker owner, while

Seems like we are articulating a movement need, we need scale, developers have a heavier hand by taking more risk
hearing a tension between community need and a movement need, the developers need and the community need
Can these be the same need?
Yes and no, the scale things can totally fit a community need,
its about history, start with equity for workers, that in and of itself is a departure from the old patterns and stories

build large capacity and scale stuff doesnt seem to align with starting at peoples needs

recognize that the group here is not representative of low income people

who is down for the hard work, the grassroots organizing of real relationships that result in respect when representative people in leadership

we will not actually get what we want if we don't engage gov

Gotta actually talk about NYC shit, we have to

Peoples needs are different, gotta be rooted in history, there is no easy line

People want jobs and a mature economy
cant get caught up in vangaurdism of we know what is best for people

Balance, there is what people want, and there is education and democracy

I really wanna argue against reductionism, WE NEED PLURALISM,
its ok to do both!, theres room enough in the world for multiple strategies

Mother earth-BOOM, gotta have it

12:32
approaches and practices question:
idea about cooperative business academys
some are municiple based, a few regional
what could this be in the regional economic framework?
Are ppl excited about this?
What about relationships between cities

3 prongs,
create new co-ops
convert businesses
reform, work with existing co-ops, dont piss people off, but still it all changes,

structure and vision difference
lesson: if you create a coaltion, start with a shared vision not a shared structure
one of the values that has to be built into your vision is community accountability
allows space for diversity and pluralism in your tactics and work

coalitions are a way to avoid organizing
cant have networks and coaltions without power in the member bases

we need to put ppls personal experiences and stories at the forefront

we dont have a collective movement narrative, and it needs to be rooted in real peoples stories

Question: what have you found to be effective and democratic approaches and practices for regional economic development in your region.

Disadv to regional coop network - many have already been mentioned. Too big, too small. Cross sectoral work is challenging. Developing a shared voice. Food coops have a sectoral unification whereas worker coops have greater diversity. VAWC has formed a secondary coop. 
11:22
Involved in UMACEC, supported 6 co-op conversions. Re. people acting like capitalists - this is saddening. Coops are well suited to put these issues on the table.

Tend to keep tight worker owner focus and high touch local density approach. See a great need for the cross sectoral work but drawn to working face to face with worker owners. Appreciate the larger context around race, class, gentrification, etc.

Tool to share - ask people to identify as founder or ally. Declaring interest. People aren’t always aware of the interests that they are bringing. Allies often will end up making the decisions for the group unless the interests are identified early on. Worker owners in existing coop, aspiring worker owners and allies - not part of nor intending to be a worker owner. Important for self determination.
What happens when allies define their own roles as opposed to the worker owners. Who are the allies accountable to? How to figure this out when there are funders, government folks at the table.

Missing the role of community. What about parents, children of worker owners? Are they allies?
not necessarily. but sometimes. Founders often bring their kids to the meetings.

Re. the non-socially motivate coops. This model can help create a successful business - that there are advantages. These might not have any social aim commitment. Part of C Corporation (tech) and trying to make it a democratic workplace. Relatively democratic org, trying to learn fro DAWN. Founded not for social justice reasons but bc of the appeal of peer relationship.

11:33
Accountable to communities. Cooperatives can go off the rail is bc they aren’t accountable to their communities. In other parts of the community, the cooperatives are  embedded in the community and its needs. There have always been coops led by black, Latino people embedded in community. How do we work together so that solidarity economy/cooperatives are created in all communities. The Maine model meets a need. What’s the alternative? Rather, we need to meet needs and stay accountable. Local communities are able to say - here are our needs, here’s what’s really messed up. Need to re-think models - eg. CLT lease for 99 years still runs the risk of losing the land after that time period. There’s been some shift in the cooperative movement re. anti-oppression, but needs to see lots more concrete realization on the ground.

11:39
Part of Detroit experience is this. The people who went to trainings, stil have the state of mind that this is mine. Information is not being shared. How do you bring in the community? Go to conferences but often people don’t understand about Detroit. The theme is to destory the mind-set that created that in the first place. People who supposed to be assisting solidarity economy, but actually not accountable to the local community.

People need to be at the center. Need to attend to spirituality. Easy to say that we don’t need private ownership, but for people who don’t even have a home this can be challenging, Has to be people development. 

Nature of effective demo practices. National group dev. coops - how to get people interested? If coops are orgs of people organized around their needs and their building enterprises around these needs? Key is to connect with people who know what they need and what they want to do. There’s been a drift things that grew out of working class communities meeting their needs eg Rochdale. This is part of a continuum. But theres a drift bc you can isolate a part of this - be your own boss. Divorced from the community and didn’t bring along any others.

How do we diversify? Our model: very spiritual. Throw light by engaging allies. Eg one person said that he didn’t notoice any racism which was stunning. To address this: commitment from allies to mentor members, teach what you know. As you rise through organization, you are bringing along 2 or 3 women of color.

10:50
15 yrs of experience providing coop TA. Come back to consumer dollars. In worker coop sphere - held up as more dem. But consumer dollars spent at a food coop is very small. Why can’t I spend money of a coop cell phone service. Lots of great ideas, but who has time to follow up?

Effective regional development? What are we talking about. Are True Value and Ace Hardward exciting examples. There’s a lot there. This is concrete and scalable. Could be a regional development plan and keep the democ. process. Are people excited about purchaser cooperatives?

  • In one community, the ACE went out of business. Workers said that they had no say over closure.
  • Excited but no coop identity and there’s not the kind of participation in larger coop movement.
  • Marketing coops are indiv corporate capitalist - hasn’t changed what’s going on inside those stores nor the relationship to community. It’s a way to increase efficiency for a capitalist business.
  • Transformer metaphor - all the small pieces with super powers converge to form Voltron.
  • Purchasing shared services coop in Maine plus - this was a group of coop conversions that combined  into largest worker cooperatives.
  • There’s potential to create purchasing coops that are really aligned with cooperative movement.
  • Metaphor of roaches that reconfigure themselves to their environment. A Voltron of roaches would be amazing.

Returning to solidarity economy - excited about anchor institution and leverage their purchasing power. Food coops and bulk purchasing from a cooperative of farms with a processing facility.

Solidarity economy institution - tons of practices that already exist. They can exist and be part of the capitalist status quo but they have a structure that is potentially part of a transformative process of people power. The structure doesn’t necessarily infuse social/economic justice. What are the tools. Culture and structure.

11:07
Eff and dem approaches. Interesting experiment. NY City Council passed a budget for worker coop development - raise a lot of tensions who’s getting the money, how’s it being spent. No worker coops are getting money. Dem at Work co-org a listening tour with worker coops, bi-lingual. What are the needs? Issue: where’s the accountability? The needs of the worker coops are not necessarily being met.

What’s missing is conversations - esp educational. Best approach to regional economic development is to promote solidarity within them and not assume that it’s already present. What does solidarity mean? How to receive and give resources - who do you buy from and also who do you give voice and space in the conversation? Not every voice is repped in every space, but is repped in the larger economy. Not just about race, but also identity.

Articulation of a movement need - scale. Encouraging developers to take these issues on - community and movement needs. Not necessarily the same? Eg community needs and listening projects may be different from anchor institution process.

UAW started trying to build worker equity. There are creative ways to draw people together. Ability to open up to other ways alternative.


12:32
Tension between community and movement priorities. Eg build organizations and then bring in workers.

Who would say that they live in involuntary poverty. Very few raised hands. Echoes non-profit mission drift where staff have different experience than the community that they are supposed to serve. Lots of people who have the educational and vision and experience are not from low income and marginalized community. If we scale up with these problems we might scale up with these problems.

Can’t be naïve about listening. Who is signing up to do the work? Who is able to articulate the values of marginalized communities.

Rings – getting back to NYC issue, we have to talk about engaging government structures. White power elite of worker coop movement is in control in NYC.  People need different things. Someplaces are about factory closures. Other places might need smaller solutions.
People can authentically represent marginalized and poor communities even if they aren’t actually poor because they work in an business that has pay equity commitment

Lots of people are looking for jobs in a mature economy – what can provide living wage jobs. Lots of things that we get excited about aren’t able to provide living wage. Velveeta war – those who think about healthy food can’t impose their food values, but there’s still a need  for education.

Approaches and practices question: approp of place and scale. Question about coop business academies. Many are city based, some regional. Taking this example, and thinking about regional economic framework. Are people excited about an academy on regional level.
Create new coops, convert. Reform is the third prong – to work with coops  - intrepreneurship – how to make change inside. Could be changing how business meeting happen. Strategically targeted to increase dem , coop id, and turning them into inclusive institution. Food coops are often problematic with young wage workers.
 

If you just try to find things that already exist vs shared vision. Initially white people who cared about environment. Fast forward after Ferguson the conversation if super different. If creating a coalition without a shared vision, it’s problematic. One of the values has to be community accountability. Coalitions can be a way to avoid organizing and a lazy way. Can’t have regional national networks without a strong local base.
Putting people’s personal stories and narratives is important. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Framing Question 3: Should alternative regional economic development address issues of and collaborate with social justice, climate justice, and democratic social change movements? If so how, if not why not?

Notes by Julius Jones and G. Paul Blundell

-about NYC coop funding: Cooperators are not directly recieving funds. Who is accountable to who? from Worker-coops to the coalition

-can we assess things as how they were a success AND  how they were a failure

-start with “what does this community need?” - makes alot of sense to start with the people, and not with an isolated group of people. How can we support the micro and the macro as much as possible

-Who are the communities we’re talking about? How do we take care of each other, at all points along the privilege edge? How do we do the work of dealing with our priv. and our shared poverty/oppression?

-it’s clear that you can’t talk about this without talking about priv. There is a lot of pain, and there is going to be a lot of healing needed. It’s not simplistic. It is something created by ruling exploitative class to keep them seperated. We who are looking to end exploitation, need to bring to the fore how priv. works so we can do our work. Trust is built by people keeping promises and coming together. Cannot be built out of fear, No spaces are completely safe. Courage is necessary.

Need to understand white supremacy, and its manifest in the system. The need for victims of that system to recognize and learn how it effects them. Internalized inferitority and superiority, and needs to be talked about in a way that helps build and not divide.

2:26
After the break
4 issues are up
Democratically governed
Accountable to our communities
Holding a radical vision of coop values and principles
Sustainability of your business

-feels like something is missing, how can we get out of our oppression.

-you get out by getting into it

-related an anecdote about about how a teacher was rejected by students of color, who she worked with for years to help him get it. He has become an ally and advocate for racial healing conversations.

-binary thinking into new ways of acting and acting into new ways of thinking. Often times we do the latter, but think we are doing the former. people do both in reality. I can teach you all the ills, but wouldn’t trust whites to do it without POC.

-building of trust, part of margination of Troy NY - people powered economic development, being mindful of systems of power in our interactions while learning to make coops work. Model is being designed to be replicable nationwide. Different parts are: developing people- providing wraparound supports for families, business development-coops using each others services from each other, third is a non-profit arm. Hard work of figuring it out.

-used to being the one having to talk about race and class, but doesn’t have to now...but will. Glad for the discussion and the manner in which its occurirng. Movement or COmmunity: never felt there was a difference. Movement drift perhaps, and we are starting that process. Sharing best practices in regional movements list: community embedded and community built/led, accountability, listening sessions from the community, thinking as an organizing model-developing leadership, working with and not opposed to the community, Community capacity building, culturally sensitive materials - poor in the coop community, no pics of POC, poor or no translated materials, equity distribution-change the schedule of distribution to revolving instead of long-term, wellness-identity work-as well as mental and physical-self reflection and evaluation as individuals and an org., Leadership development, connecting with politicians thru grassroots people, as opposed to the white priv. elite bottlenecking power
she sometimes feels tokenized to make white people feel better without actually having to do the work. Tries to connect with other groups to see who can be brought in or other groups she can work with.
revolving equity, periodic distribution

-ask those who he is trying to help, “what kind of help do you need?” remembering to ask what experience is present in the group. don’t take leadership or org. positions, don’t make recommendations-support in making a decision with info, create space for anonymous feedback, marginalized people are traumatized people, be supportive.

-history of capitalism and slavery redux:
native americans, didn’t work
europeans didn’t work
Africa! there’s the solution
Africans and Natives and white united to revolt
Whiteness, colorhood was invented to tier society. started about economics.
Privlege in the class area, but in poverty, little spare cash, food coop was a member but is not anymore b/c he can’t afford it. Only university area and wealthy residents shop there, none of the low-income people in the area of the co-op can. He tried to make some headway with the board of directors, but they are not helpful. The velvetta debate rages on. They want to get low-income folks involved, but not in action.

-regional groups often tap into other social justice issues. a friend asked, “where are all the Black Leaders?” in the Evergreen movement and shed light on the issues

-co-ops don’t inherently lead to liberation, if -isms are slowing the process down, it’s not liberating. What are the concrete tools to facilitate liberation? What elements can we instill in the co-op to make them liberatory?
Individual development account, done by a co-op
encourage co-ops to follow the guidelines of co-ops
package tools as cooperators, and educate the co-op world
Other groups see co-ops from different social justice paths, and this is interesting. Merging of the movements is exciting frontier.

M.O.R.E.- STL post ACORN group - power behind the police, coming out around the 1 year anniversary of Mike Brown’s death. think of how to channel the energy towards fundamentally changing the status quo in STL. The white power structure has given just enough to quell, but satisfy. An expose on the 1%, how much money do they actually have, who and what companies. Power mapped the CEOs and BoD etc. connections. Did a week of action against all of those CEOs. Unveil the prophet. Framed the conversation as there are enough resources to get what we want, but it’s veiled. Will do themed releases around landowners, then wealthy families etc. Create an imagination to form a solidarity economy.

320
Re:  food coop issues - product of flawed development system. Offering experience as motivation for participation.  Has worked out partnerships with food coops, debunking theories of white, liberal acedemics as necessary in order to have food coops. Call to action around continuing to work towards bettering food coops.

3.23
ICA has seven coop principles and ten values. They have been revised three times in history (by white men)
first four are structural 5,6,7, are aspirational
The process needs input, riddled with erasure, whitwashing etc. needs input

ICA.coop - has a survey, E will help people if they need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions to Discuss

Q: What are some lessons/perspectives that we can take from the recent experience in NYC of the worker coop fund being controlled by white, owning class, professional developers. Funds are not being given to worker coops. Where is the accountability?

comment: Can we look at any number of issues like “these are ways that this was a success and these are ways that this was a failure”.

Q: Do we see Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives (VAWC) model as successful? What are its shortcomings?

Q: Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) and supply side coop dev. funding.

Q: How to integrate/organize the micro issues with the macro issues

Q: How do we take care of each other in our diversity of needs and situations? As a white academic who recently moved to a new community but who has my own struggles I struggle with my place and finding support in this important work?

Q: How do we mobilize privilege to support the movement work we are doing?

comment: In the world of #BlackLivesMatter and generally the issue of privilege is up. We can speak about it here or be sure to speak about it when we get home. In every situation there is someone who has privilege relative to others. There is healing on the other side. The system hurts everyone. The system tells everyone they are not enough. You can be a perpetrator simply by being and you can be a victim of the system at the same time.

Q: How do we bring a power analysis to the coop development world?

comment: You cannot talk about community without talking about privilege and identity. Ella Jo Baker used to always ask “who are your people?” This is not only who you are related to but also who do you relate to and identify with. Power dynamics and privilege are incredibly complicated (and are grossly simplified in any manner of ways by any number of people). Privilege is created between the exploiters and the exploited in order to maintain a distance necessary to maintain the system. The exploiters could not withstand contact with the expoited. To defeat this we need to build trust. To get to a place of power we need courage to pass through the dangerous and scary places between here and collective power.

comment: We also need to talk about white supremacy.

comment: There’s a lot that comes up in these discussions that is uncomfortable and kind of makes you feel like a piece of shit. I have felt this myself around my male privilege. But there is a better more awesome you on the other side. And a better coop.

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming (by which we mean the stack that was accumulated at the end of the last session).

Fac: We’re the people doing the work here so I want to invite us to be specific. Specific examples. They will be edited out of the notes.

2:26
Let’s try to boil all that down to a few themes:
Democratically governed
Accountable to our communities
Holding a radical vision of coop values and principles
Sustainability of your business
And all of them have internal and external dimensions.

How do I get out of my white male privilege to meet you where you are and help you get out of your privilege so we can get to authentic relating.

I had this experience with a fellow at a fab lab who was working with some young folks who had been labeled “at risk” (a bit harsh). He came to me to ask why the kids seemed standoffish. I said “you were speaking the words of the oppressor, don’t you think they hear it? they’ve heard it all their lives”. And from there on we started a daily dialog where I would call him out on bigoted statements and explain how it made me feel. That authentic person to person relating. Firm and unrelenting but gentle and personal.

There is “thinking your way into new ways of acting” and “acting our way into new ways of thinking”. Both happen and we should be conscious of how each one happens. In most cases we think the first one is what we do but more often than we think the second one is what’s going on. I’m old so I can say this, lots of POC say “it’s not my responsibility to explain to white folks all the stupid shit they’re doing”. Old as I am I’m happy to keep explaining all this because I don’t trust white folks to be able to sit together and figure out between themselves what stupid shit they’re doing.

I never felt like we were talking about two different things when we talk about “movement” and “community”. We should be trying to start with need and start with people and build the movement up from there. We could spend some time figuring out why we are missing people from some of the communities we want to be working with. [now here’s a list but i missed what this is a list of]
community embedded
community led
community accountable
listening tours (Bob Stone from GEO)
thinking as an organizing model
embedding yourself in community
working with community rather than imposing yourself on community
building leadership
[something something]
culturally sensitive materials
equity distribution (revolving equity distribution, every few years the equity in a coop is redistributed so more people are more equally invested)
wellness work (both political stuff like white supremacy and physical health stuff)
self-reflection and self-evaluation
leadership development
grassroots uplift (rather than privileged people saying they’re the only people who can get access to whatever resources and taking the thing over they should empower less privilege people to have access to those resources)

For me as a white het cis man who is passionate about worker coops here is what I have learned in my organizing, particularly with immigrant communities:
ask the people you’re helping what help they think they need
ask what experience they already have with coops
don’t take leadership or organizer positions even if asked to
let them define my role
accept that my privilege tends to be invisible to me, ask others to point it out without requiring them to and thank them when they do
marginalized people are traumatized people, support them in their recovery
think of this work as gardening, it needs constant long term responsive attention (the work of anti-oppression self work)

On race and anti-oppression work there are decades of study, science, scholarship, etc. Everyone has experience with race so everyone thinks they know what’s up but there are actually experts that you can straight up hire to get your coop up to speed for something like $3000.

As someone who does this professionally, I think it is a worthwhile investment but it is not sufficient.

I was shocked to read Howard Zinn and [someone someone]’s history of capitalism and slavery. When Europeans colonized America first they tried to colonize the natives but they knew the land too well and they just escaped or they committed suicide rather than be enslaved. Then the Europeans brought poor people from Europe but this didn’t work so well (there weren’t enough, something somethin). Then the Europeans went to Africa to get their slaves. Hit with frequent slave rebellions where blacks and poor whites teamed up against the rich the rich invented white supremacy by starting to treat whites differently (in rebellions the whites were allowed to surrender while the blacks and natives were always killed). It’s not natural. Babies don’t make distinctions based on race. Anyway. This was all very interesting to me especially because I don’t have a lot of experience with white/black racism (not a lot of black people where I live).
My experience of privilege is more with classism. I have very little money. Story about food coop with organic food inaccessible to the poor and no interest in carrying conventional low cost food.

Coops do not, but their nature, automatically lead to total liberation. Given this, what are our concrete tools (measurable, communicable, extensible) to push coop liberation further? We want to be able to step back and say “this is how we brought social justice into this coop: x, y, and z”. What can we do so that when the activist board members leave they don’t return to being “status quo-ops”. We should develop a set of tools that can be baked into the structure of coops that will educate and agitate for social justice.

Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) is working on a campaign called the Power Behind the Police (PBP?). PBP is coming out on the first anniversary of Mike Brown’s murder. We’re trying to get people in St. Louis to think about the systematic oppression that led to the murder of Mike Brown. Up to now nothing has changed in St. Louis. PBP aim to uncover research to attack the 1%. Who are the specific people who are profiting from this extractive and violent system? We released power maps for each of the organizations and individuals they are targeting (Mosanto, Peabody Energy, Energizer Holdings, etc). They then did public events about each individual asshat explaining all their horrible ties. The argument is that there are a lot of resources available that are captured by the asshats and if even a small fraction of those resources could be released we, the people, could get everything that we want.

3:20pm
I hope that we can look at the flawed coops with a participatory love. And that we can appreciate that food coops are not a monolith. I’m working on a project to debunk myths around food coops and to encourage them to be more awesome.

The International Cooperative Alliance is the apex international coop organization. Federated structure. There are 7 Cooperative Principles that form part of the core of the cooperative identity. There are no paragraphs explaining each value that are officially certified. The values have been restated 3 times in history (always by white men). There is currently a process to write guidance papers for each principle. The last 3 principles are the most aspirational (education, coop cooperation, and concern for community). We wrote guidance papers for it and handed them to a white male British professor who watered them down, coded them up, erased some stuff, yada yada. I want to call on anyone who is willing (to read a 95 page document critically) to read it and provide commentary.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Framing Question 4:  From this point on:
1) how do we support each other in terms of developing more robust & democratically accountable regional networks?
2) how do we help create more across the country? How do we carry on from here?

Notes by Emily Kawano and Cliff Martin

Session 4
How do we support each other in terms of developing more robust and democratically accountable regional networks?
How do we help create more accountability?

Groups represented
MORE - Solidarity economy
Margination – coop dev and solidarity economy
CEANYC
SEGP
GEO
VAWC
PACA
SAGE
Boston coop developers

Macro – coops can advocate for policies that advance democratic economy.  Coops operating in capitalist competitive markets contribute to instabilities as well as mission creep. The system is biased toward big business. Need to change rules and policies to favor “our” economic vision, eg New Green Deal. What would this look like? This would complement micro business focus

There is a labor coop initiative. Some short papers and resources re. different models. One of the most successful is Cincinatti Union Coop Initiative that is developing unionized cooperatives. Union-coop council – network around the US starting in 2007, monthly phone calls to share ideas, run workshops, connect people to resources. There are some interesting projects going on around the country.

Invitation to continue to write on the theme of regional solidarity and cooperative economy.

SGEP building regional coop models. Emerged bc nationally many initiatives were not connecting with the South. Connects also with orgs outside the south like GEO and DAWI, plus cooperation tx, coop Jackson, fed of s coops. Focused on building communities and places while keeping a national connections. Three pieces: education, policy and finance with S reparation loan fund, radical inclusivity and maximize community benefit and ??.
SGEP was careful about being aware of who was and who wasn’t at the table and in leadership. Meant making adjustments, eg language, timing sensitivity to farming cycle.

Upstate NY organizing – didn’t have a champion to drive around. How did SGEP find and designate who is doing the outreach and organizing. SGEP’s members and the group decided. Federation of Southern Cooperatives for example has been around for a really long time. Important to listen to these orgs with deep knowledge and relationships. SGEP members come out of movement, not coops. There was an outreach committee and goals about participation from different regions, then evaluated whether the goals were being met. The strategies came out of what people were already involved in and what they said that they needed.
What role has the faith community played? Different people have different relationship to issues of faith. There’s a range. In the south, most people are coming from a faith base, so they bring this with them.

Church orgs reached out and wanted to be involved in food group purchasing.  Two pastors started to quote book of Axe. Talks about coop and collective work as going into people’s home making sure they are clothed and fed. Connecting this to community organizing. Developing dairy cooperative – church said this is what we do and you should have come to us. We missed this connection with faith based work. B
Black churches have been very historically involved in cooperative economic development.

In NYC, what was the role of FPWA (Fed of Protestant Welfare Agencies)? They’ve been in a leadership and administrative role.  Third to half of the CDCs were church based. Social and economic justice orgs is important to be present along with coops. Having a legislative and organizing agenda that is infused with social/economic justice lens is important. FPWA has an anti-poverty lens.

Faith based orgs both white and black, just like worker coops there are some eg labor unions that will participate in this movement and some will not.

Andrew McCloud Holy Cooperation – fascinating history of cooperation in Muslim communities.
Catholic Workers – VAWC member has history with them.
In Detroit, folks have been in conversation with churches and were asked  to speak truth to power. Church has social justice issues that they’ve chosen not to deal with.

Coop Maine is a loose network and exploring what could a coop association look like?  Lessons learned? See article in GEO. PACA: early on-Trying to bring folks together to meet. Starting iwht Facebook and newsletter, listing of jobs, events.

WORCN – main takeaway was that all volunteer org made up of all entrep won’t amount to much bc everyone is so busy. You tend to get people who are easy to turn out – access to transportation, language, childcare. For a time people were using paid time on job. WORCN  resisted becoming dues paying org bc they didn’t understand how much it was being subsidized by some, and also how many people were not coming. You really need staff to do this kind of outreach.

Local org and collab hasn’t been well done on regional level. Explicit about a vision – educate, help fund, membership with dues. Build trust and develop approp timeline. About delivering value – education through UMAss, reading financials statements, etc. Setting dues – what are you getting for you dues? If your not interested in policy, education then this isn’t for you. It’s hard because the members are so different. 

PACA dues structure is still changing. At first everyone was volunteer and couldn’t provide member services. Eventually developed dues structure, sent it around got feedback that it was too high, now have developed different levels and are negotiated. Member dues, sponsorships, contributions – mix.

VAWC’s model is v member oriented. PACA’s mission is this and more – they are multi-sector. VAWC started with 5 members but initially got a lot of no’s.

Messaging around coops – how to talk about it, what’s the elevator pitch. Depends on who you’re talking to.
- SGEP has gotten favorable reception about GR policies to address needs of marginalized communities.
- Worcester Coop Academy now in 3rd edition.  Coop business school – education , participants usually are already interested. Goes through structures, coop dif, budgets, funding, etc. Enrollment – usually between 6-10 groups of potential worker owners. Feedback in the first session of great 8 groups, 25 people. Tied to have parallel tracks thread of governance and financial planning.  Didn’t work out that well – jumped all around. Was confusing. Modularize the training. Maybe more like a school that’s an ongoing relationship. Some people go through Coop academy more than once.

 

one way that the co-op movement can collab with broader progressive movement by pushing policy for incentivizing co-ops
need policies that support democratic cooperatives
we need to write the rules so that we can succeed
could have a green new deal, we then build the infrastructure of it
we could benefit from a bigger economic plan

There is labor union worker co-op model!!!!!!!! Please learn about it
Cincinnati union co-op initiative
unions, co-ops, farmers, tech assistance,
makes worker co-ops that are unionized
empowers organizers!
A mandate created a union co-op council
meet monthly by phone and just share ideas
hook people up with funding, resources,

discussion 4 actual start

southern grassroots economies project
build regional cooperative economic models
things were not involving the south
this project is southern focus but maintains its ties with other regions and the movement
farmworkers assoc, highlander, (6 total)
lots of history
work around:
education
policy
finance
the accountability: set their standards of equity, real concrete things, translation, authentic leadership, etc.

How did you become the champion organization?
Steering committee, the major body, basically consensus
It was individuals who pushed
outreach committee, dif strategy, numbers, goals,
regional identity
definite southern wide network
people have to support each other regionally to make anything
this came from social justice movement FIRST, not co-op movement first

what role have faith organizations played?
Have not been central
people bring that with them though
the south, it is religious, everybody, role of church is strong in people's lives but not in the network

(person not from SGEP)
Churches came to us, but they were upset that we didn't come to them first
book of acts talks about cooperative action as feeding and clothing your neighbor
church said: this is what we do, you should have come to us
collective and cooperative work is and can be very spiritual and

the bad part of the worker co-op coalition with momentum in NYC is that the intersectionality and cross sector work was lost, some orgs pushed policy on people that wouldn't do and they wouldn't have pushed had other orgs been at the table

the NYC coalition does not have low income reps at the table

some faith orgs will participate, some will not

book: holy cooperation, strong history in muslim communities, first century christianity was very communistic

catholic worker has done a little here and there
they have their own dirty laundry, let them clean it up, then we’ll work with them, that was detroit

nuns do a ton of donating to funds

for ppl looking to start a co-op assoc. what kernels of wisdom do yall have to share?
Caitlin wrote an article about it, its in the theme
bring ppl together, happy hour, just meet other people, started fb, newsletter, ppl are interested in jobs, events, thought leadership around co-op sectors, ppl needed to just meet and get to know each other, did a conference, brought further people, drew some well
an all volunteer org made up of entrepreneurs is never going to do anything, those people are busy
if you don't do much work to turn ppl out, then only privileged people will be at your meetings
ppl resisted becoming a membership org that paid dues
ppl didnt know that the network was be subsidized by volunteers
good meetings (with good equity) need a good radical paid organizer

VAWC
the co-op movement has done a bad job about regionally devel
read the book: building co-op power
build trust, have appropriate timeline
build up paying membership
its about trust and relationships
delivering value to members
IT'S GETTING VALUE BACK,
ppl need an appropriate level of dues
what are you getting for your dues?
the organization has to be strapped to valuable activities

our dues structure is always changing
cross sector difficulty- some sectors cant pay very much

vawc model is supremely member driven and focused

BE ON THE GROUND
able to legislative work

VAWC started with 5 founding members
really gotta hold tight, people did not want to do this at all at first

how is messaging?

Academies are going really well.
good framing has been:
“co-op business school”
bundled education with basics of what co-ops are, most people who come have an interest in starting a business
how do you do budgets
how about funding etc.
get facilitators regionally
mentors
curriculum is drawn from the participants
get between 6 and 10 groups of people
targeted at potential worker owners and worker owners
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, September 2, 2015