In these times, it’s important to know who your people are. At the 2018 Summer Co-op Academy (SCA), held in the historic South on the still-living land of the Occoneechee people, stewarded by the incredible Earthseed Land Cooperative, this year’s cohort of powerful, visionary young people created community with each other.
Children are being separated from their parents at the Mexico-U.S. border and kept in cages. The U.S. Supreme Court's Janus decision against union dues is a fatal blow to one of the last remaining mechanisms working-class communities have against unscrupulous employers. Although the State violence implemented by this administration is repugnant and overwhelming, it isn’t new. It is a consequence of the growing power of unchecked white supremacist capitalism that puts money at all costs before humans, animals, and the planet.
At CoFED, we believe that co-ops are both an ancient and visionary way to create new realities and challenge the systemic injustices of a corrupt, colonial, and capitalist State. Especially during what feels like moments of heightened violence and despair, we hope to create space to be energized by all the ways we are already taking care of each other, other creatures, and our planet.
That's why for this #UnlearningWithCoFED post, we’re bringing it back to the basics. What makes a food co-op a co-op?
We're so excited for you to meet the 13 young cooperators from across the U.S. and Canada who have been selected to join our 2018 Summer Co-op Academy!
When so many of us and our communities are under attack, these young cooperators give us hope and much to celebrate. Looking beyond traditional food co-ops, they are innovating cooperative solutions to address holistic community needs such as food sovereignty, healing, land access, cultural expression, and safety from state, economic, racial, religious, environmental and gender violence. In short, they are leading the way and showing us what the future of co-ops could and should be.
We're so excited to introduce you to Merelis, Jazmin, and avery, this year’s Racial Justice Fellows!
This year's Fellows, chosen from a competitive pool of 54 applicants across the U.S., embody the vision, values and spirit of our Racial Justice Fellowship, the only Fellowship out there specifically deepening the leadership of young folks of color as they work towards community-centered food systems, racial justice, and our collective liberation. These Fellows exist and create in ways that only they can, radical acts in a world where simply being oneself is a dangerous project. And with the courage to bring their communities with them, they infinitely expand the possibilities for a safe, sustainable, and socially just world.
Our latest #UnlearningWithCoFED is about decolonization.
As a reminder, here’s how we define unlearning: a continuous process of questioning what and how we’ve been taught so that we can learn other ways of knowing, doing, and being that serve our collective liberation and help us dismantle all forms of oppression. Through our #UnlearningWithCoFED emails, we’ll be questioning and learning together how co-ops fit into the larger visions of food, racial, economic, gender and climate justice.
So, what is decolonization? Let’s start by sharing some definitions of colonization:
- the action or process of settling among and establishing control over the indigenous people of an area.
- the action of appropriating a place or domain for one's own use.
- a process by which a central system of power dominates the surrounding land and its components.
- and/or, as defined in Indian Country Today, “In the context of Indigenous Peoples, colonization has come to mean any kind of external control, and it is used as an expression for the subordination of Indian peoples and their rights since early contact with Europeans. In North America, colonization took the task of subordinating Indigenous Peoples to the political power of Christian European kings. In Spanish colonies, with the appearance of the colonists, the land was immediately considered under the control of the colonizing nations.” 
You are a valued member of our CoFED community. We need your input to craft a new strategic vision for CoFED, one that builds on our values around equity and inclusion as we forefront racial, economic, and gender justice at the core of cooperative development.
Do you have a few minutes to complete our survey?
Since 2011, we have developed 12 new cooperative projects, trained over 500 students on over 60 campuses, and cultivated a community of nearly 4,000 supporters.
Currently, CoFED is evolving to better reflect the leadership, vision, and needs of young people of color and poor people. Because our capitalist food system is racist and patriarchal, with roots in colonization here in the U.S. and abroad, we are engaging in a deep and ongoing process of decolonization, reflecting on difficult questions of what collective liberation looks like and how we will get there, and imagining new possibilities for how we relate to land, food, ourselves, and each other. This evolution is ongoing, dynamic, and includes you!
As a member of CoFED's community, your responses will go a long way in helping us in this organizational journey. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey here.
Happy #GivingTuesday! If all of us pitch in together in the next 24 hours to give $5000, we'll win an additional $5000 matching grant for food justice and co-ops! There's never been a better time to give!
Every dollar counts, and you can easily maximize the impact of your dollars by becoming a monthly donor. Make a recurring gift today and your total yearly gift amount (not the monthly dollar amount) will be matched! For example, a gift of $10 monthly will earn us $120 towards our $5000 goal. But you have to give today! Will you invest in a more joyful, just and sustainable food system by becoming a monthly donor right now?
Yes, I'll become a monthly donor right now! I want us to WIN.
For a taste of our #Unlearning emails and to unlearn Thanksgiving, a food-filled holiday that hides the racist and colonial history of US food culture and our food system behind a false origin story of Native-settler mutual cooperation and gratitude, check out this video featuring 6 Native American girls:
My CoFED Racial Justice Fellowship has been an incredible learning experience. Considering the sheer ridiculousness of the current state of the US and the World, I could not think of a more important time to be centering this work. To center food justice in our work is to center all justice; environmental, racial, sociocultural, economic; whoever we are and whatever we do, we all need to eat, and all need to eat well.
This summer marked the beginning of a two-fold journey; on a personal and political level, I learned the importance (and the difficulty) of putting your money where your mouth is. For all my love of urban foraging and horizontal, non-hierarchal learning, in the past 23 years I had never once truly attempted to teach myself the skills I was hoping to gain over the course of these 10 weeks. I had read the books and the articles, had the proper role models, and knew all the right words to say, but too much of my personal shit got in the way of putting theory into practice. From mental health crises and emotional abuse to a jam-packed academic schedule, to helping my friends through their shit and refusing to healthily prioritize myself, I never felt I had the time. My life has been a series of reactions, of following through on plans others have made for me and doing my best to roll with the punches and refusing to take a stand for myself, up until graduation day of 2016. Having followed through on the preconceived plan of “poor brown kid makes it to private top tier college and graduates in 4 years”, I really had no clue what to do with myself. I had “made it”; albeit as a Theatre major, but still. I had made it. There was no plan for after.
My name is Dorian, and I've been working as an activist and ally of the food justice movement since I first started working at the Maryland Food Collective, which is a modest sandwich shop and coffee spot on a university campus. When I first began my work there, I didn't understand the politics around the food that we purchase, cook, and consume. I came to my local food co-op because, like many college students (both undergrad and post-grad), I was in search of a way to earn resources that I could use to sustain myself, and because I needed to be fed.
When I was growing up, my passion for cooking (and for food itself) was almost as large as my hunger for new stories to process and tell. I spent my free time spinning stories in crudely made booklets of printer paper and staples, trying to create space for histories sprouted in my mind’s eye. I created physical subjects from cloth and thread, formed stories of revival and revolution for spaces I hadn’t entered into yet yet, and imagined worlds outside my reach. As I entered organizing spaces in my late teens and early twenties, I clutched my rolling imagination for better ways of working together and coexisting as tightly as I held my own lived experiences as a person of color.