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.
One thing consistently impressing us with the CYC is how it truly brings together youth from an extremely diverse background of cooperatives, cooperative experience, regions, races, and class backgrounds.
CYC hosted 2 keynotes, that illuminate what it means to practice an equitable, inclusive and diverse cooperative movement.
The first was Doctor Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of Collective Courage, a research project re-discovering the often lost and forgotten history of African-American and Black cooperation in the United States. She recounted stories of young black cooperators in this country, connecting the audience to a history of youth cooperation, that has historically been forgotten by the cooperative movement.
The Youth Keynote was composed of members of the Trans Youth Support Network, who in the past 6 months have gone from having a traditional non-profit structure to being a completely youth led collective. Everyone who works at TYSN (pronounced Tyson) is under 26, and over the half the board is as well. It was inspiring to hear from an organization who both had a lot to offer in terms of experience making the move to youth leadership, as well as a group of people interested in the cooperative model, inquisitively challenging us and the co-op movement in seeking the space for young trans cooperators of color.
Here at CoFED we are always working on expanding the tools we offer and the network of people excited by working with students on cooperative projects. Being a part of the People’s Movement Assembly was hands on learning in a large group consensus building model that works in groups into the hundreds! The connections we made there will also be invaluable as we work to support start-up student food co-ops, equipping them with a broad base of support, experience, skills, and community.
If there is one thing to be said, youth co-op convergences are the best. From the NASCO institute, to the regional convergence we had back in April, or CYC3CYC. We can’t wait to start planning more conferences and institutes, and when we do we really hope to see you there!