Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo

 

Dr. Jon Altuna, Mondragon's chief innovator 

Ideas and the mentality, they promote areas indispensable for the progress of our cooperatives as are the buildings and machinery. 

--Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta in the book, Reflections·

 Author's self-portrait outside of Mondragon headquarters.

 

Five of nine of us touring Mondragon arrive on Sunday in Bilbao, make our way to Mondragon-Arrastata, get settled and find food at the Monte bar a short walk from The Hotel Mondragon where we are staying for the week-long tour.  I fall into bed at about 10:30 (4:30 pm EST), the 12 hour journey and time zone change wearing me out.  Tonight there is no reading of The Kemetian Tree of Life, my nightly fix.   

Brahm Ahmadi, CEO of People's Community Market in Oakland, and founding board member of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, won a Food and Community fellowship that will allow him to deepen and expand the food activism started when he helped found People's Grocery.  See Brahm's GEO article last year on the importance of developing community leadership.  

The Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy released its press release with all the details for it's July conference activities: 

2011 Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy | Connecting Our Workplaces: Building Cooperative Economies

In the Unites States of America, socialism and communism are considered by many to be bad, tabu words, but cooperation exists, and "worker-owned cooperatives" existed and prospered for many years to this day, thanks also to the spirit of enterpreneurship that is widespread and to the practice of democracy, practice that is tought at school, starting from the elementary grade. Cooperatives are part of the self-help tradition of America.
by James West on March 30, 2011 Utah is the first State to officially recognize gold as money, according to a CNN. “The Beehive State has a new measure on the books that eliminates state taxes on the exchange of gold and silver coins and directs the legislature to study an “alternative form of legal tender.” The law, signed by Gov. Gary Herbert last week, also recognizes gold and silver coins issued by the federal government as legal tender in the state. Of course, they already are. But people use them as investments, not pocket change.

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund on August 19, 2010 honored Alice Walker in Birmingham, AL at its annual dinner attended by more than 400 people.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author and self-proclaimed "daughter of the rural peasantry" was presented the Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement award by FSC Executive Director Ralph Paige. The largely black organization of farmer cooperatives works to save and preserve black-owned farmlands. 

 There was so many rich quotes from the national worker cooperative conference that took place in Berkeley last weekend.  Many got lost in my unreadable handwriting.

Here are only a few that I was able to capture: 

 

hilary abell

"This isn't for everyone.  Co-ops are awesome."

--Hilary Abell, WAGES Executive Director.

 

patricia Feraud Toxic soil busters

The Evergreen cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio was the story everyone wanted to hear at the opening session on Saturday Aug. 7, 2010 of the U.S. Federation for Worker Cooperatives conference in Berkeley. 

WAGES is being used as a model by Mexican and Central American immigrants to create their own jobs. Minsun Ji, El Centro Humanitario's executive director in Denver, CO, said when they contacted WAGES to be able to adapt the WAGES strategy locally: "We were so desperate. There were no jobs. We were really, really desperate."

At the opening gathering of the 4th bi-ennial conference of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, it was clear that the movement has reached a significant milestone. 

Melissa HooverAudience raising hands to indicate where they're from

 Hightower holding up his book

Jim Hightower is a man of very colorful language. 

"We have to get the hogs out of the creek" was Hightower's parting message in his keynote address at the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives on Friday, Aug. 6 at the San Francisco Women's Building. 

I think the hogs was the metaphor for cleaning out those muddying up what democracy is supposed to be. We need a grassroots movement to make change, to clean the creek.

David Roach is doing incredibly important work in Oakland with Mo' Better Food, schools, intergenerational learning, farmer's markets, and other things.  He was our incredible improvisational tour guide of Oakland.

Call it the Oakland Improvizational Tour.  Or Oakland's Special Synchroncity Tour.  Or the Divine Flow of Oakland Tour.  Whatever you call it, you have got to call it Amazing!!

Evergreen Cooperative Laundry managers take ACE conference attendees on a tour of the facility. CEO Jim Anderson gives a workshop on the cooperatives.
Evergreen Cooperative Laundry Operations Manager Medrick Anderson and Technical Manager Keith Parkham led a tour of the laundry.
The Association of Cooperative Educators established the John Logue ACE award at its 58th annual conference in Cleveland July27-30, 2010. Ohio Employee Ownership Center staff members, Bill McIntyre and Logue's wife, Olga Klepikova, talk about Logue's work, vision, "moxie" and his impact on Ohio and the U.S. Other ACE awardees for 2010 are also mentioned.

One of the things that I loved at the Association of Cooperative Educators conference was the invocation that ACE administrator Bill Patrie opened the proceedings with.  It really impressed me because I had recently decided that I am going to bring more of my spiritual self forward in everything I do, especially on the cooperative front where I spend more of my time.  I am not religious, but I am greatly spiritual, and it truly informs what I do.

Asset Building for Cooperatives
Cooperation: Unique Prescription for Health
Mondragon and Steelworkers Union Alliance
Cooperatives and Peace
Overcoming Barriers
Ohio City Bike Cooperative tour

Today was another amazing day of presentations at the ACE conference!....

Unlike other conferences that I'm used to attending, you don't have to choose from workshops at the Association of Cooperative Educators. There is only one track, and everyone is on the same one.

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