2015 was full of major milestones for CoFED. Let’s take a walk down memory lane with five highlights from the year.
MINNEAPOLIS! We have been eager to make a trip out to this cooperative metropolis, so we couldn’t have been more excited when the Cooperative Youth Council (CYC) announced that their third convergence CYC3CYC (Cooperative Youth Council’s 3rd Cooperative Youth Convergence) would be in this beautiful city. While we want focus on the convergence itself, allow us a quick aside to say, Co-ops are literally everywhere here; from the Mercado Central, a merchant’s cooperative; to Seward Cafe, a non-profit cooperative workers collective; Seward Community Co-op, a great grocery boasting over 11,000 members; Chateau Co-op, a 20 story housing co-op; and the Hub bike co-op, a worker owned bike store.These were just the ones we got to see, but if you love geeking out on co-ops Minneapolis should definitely be one of your next stops. And while Minneapolis is far from perfect, there are the seeds of what thriving, equitable communities look like; and perhaps some useful models and case studies as we work to build resilient local economies.
Reposted from the New Economy Week blog, http://neweconomyweek.org/blog.
Climate change, shifting demographics, and sobering economic realities
for a growing number of Americans have sparked increased awareness of the need to re-examine how working class people and communities of color will successfully participate in tomorrow’s economy, the one they will inherit when our nation becomes an ethnic plurality
CoFED's Field Organizer, Anna Isaacs, shares stories from the road as she visits students and youth cooperators in California.
Healthy. Affordable. Community Owned.
That's what the community of Greensboro, North Carolina wants and deserves as a community, but don't take my word for it. Hear what the members of Renaissance Community Coop have to say in this great video:
Greensboro is showing us how a community can come together to build a grocery store that serves their needs. Good food, good jobs, and good money is something that brings people together. By working together, the possibility of what can be created grows.
So as you're building a cooperatively-run food business think about how you might be able to connect to the larger campus community, beyond the schools walls. What are the neighborhoods nearby doing? What community organizations have you reached out to? How might your support local efforts that align with your own? How can we support each other in our learning and longing for more thriving and equitable communities?
Brown University worked to serve their campus community and wanted to be conscious of not duplicating efforts in the larger community. They also recognized that cafeteria workers's access to healthy food is just as limited as students, so they designed their "Market Shares" program at Brown University to benefit students, staff, and workers.
Renaissance Community Coop is also showing us that a grocery store goes beyond good food, it's also about good jobs, accessibility, and community ownership.
Thanks for sharing your story Greensboro!
Just about a year ago, CoFED was gearing up to launch our first Regional Organizer Fellowship. The Fellowship was designed, on the advice of previous Regional Organizers (ROs), to prioritize ongoing training, support, and professional development opportunities. We were amazed to receive more than 80 applicants, and chose a group of 5 amazing young leaders who the CoFED network has grown to love and appreciate! They have worked to train, connect, and “inspiregize” college students to start and improve student-run food cooperatives across North America. Now, as the year-long experience is coming to a close, we’d like to update the network about where CoFED is headed from this first class of Fellows, and say THANK YOU to the ROs and all that they have accomplished:
Early this spring, just after break and just before the crunch of finals, over 50 young cooperators converged at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina for what proved to be an amazing weekend. Folks from Indiana to Maryland to North Carolina learned together, from each other, became more excited about their co-ops, and most importantly built a sense of community and this movement together. I have to say, I didn’t know what this year as the Mid-Atlantic & Southeast Regional Organizer was going to be like, but sharing that space with so many amazing people working on equally inspiring projects, was a loud and clear confirmation of the importance of this work.
(Rose City, the Greenleaf, UNCG, Firestorm, and Maryland Food Collective members; after other teams had left on Sunday)
CoFED's Regional Organizers are spread out across the country doing amazing work to support and connect student-run food coops in and across regions. A few times a year, they get to come together for the joyous occasion of face-to-face contact -- no more Skype fuzz or Google Hangout hats keeping them a part! The mid-year retreat provides them with further team-building and training that builds upon the work that they have accomplished thus far in the Fellowship, and of course, gets them stoked to continue their organizing efforts in the second half of the school year. Here are some of the highlights...