Meet the 2017 Summer Co-op Academy cohort in their own words! Below they explain a bit about what they've been up to with their co-op or their ideas on getting one started.
The theme of Kreyoleyez is founded on 'return of the roots' because our ancestors left us the blueprint for what we need to do to heal our communities and rebuild them. We envision opening marketplaces and farmer's markets focused on health conscious lifestyles, mutually beneficial partnerships, the power of the collective, unity, and holistic healing approach.
Our team is committed to racial and economic equity. The R’Garden and R’Pantry were spaces initiated by students of color on campus who saw the need around food security. We continue to center these spaces on students of color. By providing students with food and fresh produce, we help alleviate the struggle for a moment in time. Our hopes are to create a sustainable food coop with more access to fresh produce and nutritious foods so that students find community, are well nourished, and connect with one another.
The Moon Children Co-op
The Moon Children Co-op grew out of the leadership of Enlylh and from the revolutionary organizing body Atlanta University Consortium (AUC) Shut It Down, where some of our team met. Although the neighborhood where Moon Children is based is rich in culture and history, due to racist policies and economic underdevelopment, this area is a predominantly black/low-income food swamp/apartheid. Grocery stores, markets, and fresh food vendors are scarce, but fast food chains can be found on every block.
We want to attend the Summer Co-op Academy because we are passionate about encouraging food intimacy in our neighborhood and building community!
Student Food Collective
We are interested in the clear connection between food and well-being and how it is affected by almost all factors in a person's life: ethnicity, education, occupation, etc. We also engage much with college students' particular vulnerabilities regarding food insecurity, which greatly affects performance in academics and life.
We want to meet people who approach cooperative practices in ways different from ours in order to expand, further engage, and get to know more about how the issues of food insecurity and praxis of food justice vary across the country. Most of all, we want to attend the Summer Co-op Academy to contribute to the dialogue around food co-ops and imagine alternative economies on a grander scale.
We would like to attend the Summer Co-op Academy in order to increase our knowledge of the cooperative model and learn business and management skills that can allow us to implement our vision for a Macalester Co-op. Additionally, we would love the opportunity to collaborate with other college students that share our similar values, and our commitment to healthy sustainable food, as well as the goal of expanding this personal commitment to fulfill the needs of the community. Lastly, we are interested in attending the Summer Co-op Academy in order to learn ways in which we can put our anti-racist mission at the core of our work on this project.
Loaded Ladle and the Dalhousie Student Union Market
We want to learn about more ways that we can collaborate between the Loaded Ladle and the Dalhouse Student Union Market, two student run coops/businesses on campus. We also want to know how to make coops more sustainable within the economically oppressive (as well as racist and ageist) institutional structures of the status quo. Both the DSU Market and the Loaded Ladle lift each other up and both organizations seek to help the student community in alleviating food insecurity.
Maryland Food Collective
We want to learn more about co-ops other than our own and we want to learn how to better actualize the radical political feeling that created our co-op.
As a co-op, we have a few capabilities that individual people do not have; we can provide food, we can provide a public space, we can connect with a large base of people, etc. We would like to use all of these things to provide resources and support for people who could use them. We would love to collaborate with other cooperatives and collectives on how the Maryland Food Collective can continue to better the ideas that are working and correct those that are hindrances.
People's Market and Earth Foods Cafe
Attending the Summer Co-op Academy is an incredible opportunity to learn more about food coops, how they’re run successfully and how to establish a stronger sense of solidarity among co-mangers and the student businesses at Umass. We want to actively decolonize our practices not just in how we get our food, but within our hiring and democratic processes as well. As our student business network is starting the process of possibly incubating either a new student business or expanding the People's Market into a more traditional food co-op, the SCA would provide invaluable insight, experience, and guidance in making that endeavor come to fruition.
These co-ops don't have names yet, but these cooperators are actively thinking about how to turn their ideas for co-ops into reality.
Together, we've been growing vegetables and the next step is to develop a student co-op so young students can begin to get involved. Most campus food is not focused on real food, we plan to make our co-op the fun learning co-op. We have worked with different groups of urban farmers and discussed co-op and long term employment. We would like to come learn more about co-ops because we feel co-ops will be a way of the future.
In the economy, I think that more of the families are low-income families and they are the ones that need more help. Having them know and giving them information to help themselves; it's good for each other. I commit myself to bringing information from the Summer Co-op Academy to my community and letting our people know that whatever it takes it will be good.
Huge thanks again to all of this year's Summer Co-op Academy Sponsors!