One week until our fellowship begins! Across the county five young cooperative leaders are gearing up for a year long adventure. Each of them has a distinctive set of skills that qualify them to work with college students, of all ages and backgrounds, as they organize cooperative food ventures on their campuses. Some have worked in well-established college coops, others have worked to build their own food enterprises and some come from nationally recognized non-profits. Some faces you will recognize, some you will know, others will be new. But each one is amazing and here for you! Are you ready? Meet CoFED's first ever Regional Organizer Fellows!
Eric Recchia, California Regional Organizer
Eric first joined CoFED during the spring of 2011 as a member of the Humboldt Student Food Collective, a CoFED team at Humboldt State University in Northern California. As a member of the HSFC, Eric has gained much insight in how to build a strong student organization and start a cooperative food business. He enjoys creating and building connections between people, networks, and organizations, and in helping others turn their ideas into reality. As the Northern California Regional Organizer, he is excited to use his experience with campaign organizing and building successful student organizations to help students start their own coops. Eric recently graduated from HSU with a BA in Economics and Sustainable Development, and has interests in manifesting different economic and business models to help shift the current paradigm. He is also a board member for the California Student Sustainability Coalition and a steering committee member for the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology, a student run, live-in demonstration home for sustainability at HSU. In his free time, he likes to juggle, play samba, fix bikes, and farm and cook with friends.
Yahya Alazrak, Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizer
Yahya Alazrak spent 4 years being a part of the Greenleaf Coffee Cooperative at Guilford College. At his core Yahya cares about people and creating a more just, equitable, and awesome world. Using the skills he's gleaned in the shop, in his Community and Justice classes, as a student body president, as a Quaker, and as an IWW member, he is eager to spread his love and knowledge about organizing cooperatively on college campuses. He sees food cooperatives at the intersection of multiple struggles, and as both a process of resistance and creation as well as a product of collective vision. Organizing regional solidarity in the mid-atlantic and (hopefully) the south east is nothing short of exactly what he wants to be doing right now
Ruby Levine, Midwest Regional Organizer
Ruby Levine lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While attending Macalester College, she got involved with the founding of Grand Aspirations. Working with Grand Aspirations and local community partner Cooperative Energy Futures for five years, she developed skills in facilitation and group process management, development of green economy ventures, empowerment and development of young people ages 14-30, and long-distance collaboration and support. She led the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions program for four years, building partnerships with food and farming organizations like YouthFarm and YEA Corps among others. She supported the Middleton, Wisconsin and Iowa City, Iowa Summer of Solutions programs to launch and empower young people around sustainability projects.
In her free time, Ruby enjoys baking, carving wooden spoons, playing board games, hosting bar trivia, and planning elaborate birthday parties. A Midwestern transplant, Ruby is originally from Montpelier, Vermont.
Whitney Bard, Northwest Regional Organizer
Whitney Bard worked with The Flaming Eggplant Collective for three years and can share the experience and knowledge she gained in consensus decision making, training and structural development. She specializes in menu development and supporting student buyers connect with local distributors
Lauryl Berger-Chun, Northeast Regional Organizer
After much reading, writing & pot lucking, Lauryl graduated from Sarah Lawrence College this past May with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts concentrating in sociology & literature. She first learned about CoFED from her food & ag. professor as she worked with fellow students towards establishing a campus food co-op and served as event planning intern for the 2012 Northeast Fall Convergence on Solidarity: Food, Money, Justice. She is excited by collective efforts to navigate and dismantle systems of oppression, internalized and institutional. Lauryl has experience in food growing, processing, & service, most recently as an apprentice at the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm and in a little café by the tip of Prospect Park, Brooklyn. She is also currently directing her energies towards childcare at the Center for Anti-Violence Education, packing sessions with Books Through Bars, and the ongoing Sandy recovery work. If you are in the Northeast and would like support in cooperative projects and subverting dominant narratives of what people can do and be, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!