In the last two months, I've had the opportunity to take three wonderful trips with CoFED as a regional organizer.
Routes for all 3 trips. Over 2,000+ miles!
The first of these trips, spread over ten days at the beginning of August, was for the Regional Organizer Fellowship bootcamp. Myself, CoFED admin staff (our new Executive Director, Farzana Serang, our Organizing Coordinator, Anna Isaacs, and our Operations and Communications Manager, Megan Svoboda), our four other Regional Organizers (Whitney in the Northwest, Lauryl in the Northeast, Ruby in the Midwest, and Yahya in the Mid-Atlantic), Rebecca, our Community College Program Developer, and our friends, peers, and mentors gathered together for teaching and sharing with each other. We spent most of the ten days in Berkeley and Oakland, except for three days spent on an intentional community in Sebastopol.
Anna and Yahya discussing CoFED's Mission Statement
We got to meet with awesome people from the California Center for Cooperative Development, Restaurant Opportunities Center, the Arizmendi Association of Workers Cooperatives, the Berkeley Student Food Collective, the Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance, the Sustainable Economies Law Center, and many other great allied organizations and individuals.
Later in August, I returned to Oakland to meet with four amazing student organizers (and two more virtually) from the UCLA Student Food Collective. We spent two days creating a strategic plan for the quarter, completing a SWOT analysis, hanging out with the cool folks (Gwen!) at the Berkeley Student Food Collective, visiting the Rock, Paper, Scissors art collective, eating great thai food (and making vegan pancakes!), training each other on using online organizing tools, and co-developing roles and responsibilities for each of the board positions.
Getting Tibetan food in Berkeley at the end of our training.
A few weeks later, I headed back south, this time heading all the way down to Los Angeles. On the agenda for this five day trip was visits with students and staff from five different schools (USC, Santa Monica College, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and West Coast University). My first stop after getting into LA was to meet up with more than a dozen excited students (and some really supportive staff members!) at Santa Monica College. They are a new group that’s just getting started this fall, and we spent nearly two hours discussing cooperatives basics (what I like to call Coop 101), sharing skills and ideas for the group, and going over the outline of how to start a coop using CoFED’s Game Plan model.
At USC, I met with some awesome analysts and organizers with the Program for Environment and Regional Equity (PERE), and also got to sit down with Halli Bovia, the Sustainability Program Manager at USC (turns out she used to work at CSU Chico, so we know a lot of the same folks!). I’m excited to work with staff, students, and community members to help bring more community-owned, healthy food options to the community there. Before leaving LA, I had the opportunity to meet with a nursing student from West Coast University that was interested in bringing healthy, catered vegetarian food to her school.
After leaving Los Angeles, my first stop north was at UC Santa Barbara to meet with a student leader and the UCSB Sustainability Coordinator, who has been supporting the UCSB food collective project for over the last year. They are working to open a student run food cart serving healthy, locally sourced, and delicious mediterranean food in the next few years. The last stop on my journey before returning North to the redwoods was for a two day intensive retreat with the student team at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. We spent the weekend reviewing Coop 101, developed a draft mission statement for their coop, went through an introductory workshop on basic business skills and planning, discussed other student cooperative models, and took a walking tour of campus.
All in all, they were a wonderful series of trips. It’s been nice to be back home among the redwoods for the last few weeks, though I’m already looking forward to and planning for my next multi-campus visit in November! [If you want me to stop by your campus on my next trip, please let me know!]