Our 2019 Summer Co-op Academy centered and amplified the leadership and wisdom of young BIPOC solutionaries from Canada and the US. We gathered at Earthseed Land Cooperative in Durham, NC -- on land that was once stewarded by the Occaneechi band of the Saponi nation-- to remember how cooperation is truly about who we are and how we can be. This year’s select cohort of 13 magic-makers, representing 8 different co-ops and food justice projects, built deep connections with the earth and each other that continue to thrive.
During our week together at the Summer Co-op Academy, we...
Explored cooperative hxstory, economy, values, and principles.
Left: Hnin (Executive Director) shares a brief history of POC cooperative resistance and solidarity for food justice as Amy (Ourturnatives) takes notes and Trang (QTViet Cafe) looks at the projected screen.
Right: Team Woke Foods (Frances, Raina, and Maya) listens and takes notes during the Cooperatives 101 interactive presentation.
Strategized around cooperative story-telling for collective liberation
Hnin, Dallas, and Brhea (standing), observe cooperative teams writing notes on large sheets of paper organized in a circle on the wood floor.
Had courageous conversations and rituals about internalized dominance and our compass of reactions
|Mai (Communications Director) co-leads a workshop on how we react to different forms of conflict and tension as Maya (Woke Foods, seated), Linda (Biko), and Maddox (Ourturnatives) look on.||
Deepened our understanding of financial literacy & embodied cooperation
Visited + supported local black-owned businesses and food cooperatives
Raafe (Durham Co-op) leads a tour of the Durham Food Co-op and shares how they are committed to hiring Black folks who live in the community and increasing accessibility to the co-op.
Marveled in & at nature
Got dirt under our fingernails and shared feasts together
Left: Dallas (Racial Justice Fellow), Amy, Frances, and Maddox grin with freshly harvested dog fennel in their hands.
Right: Amy, Maddox, Linda, and Hnin feed apples to a white horse and brown donkey at a retreat center for QTPOC healers and artists.
Left: Delicious vegan arepas, caribbean rice, fried plantains, black eyed peas stew, and mousse.
Right: Frances holding a plant at Hypha (QTPOC healing garden in Durham).
Planted seeds for an international network of cooperators of color: myceliYUM
Kriss & Dallas (Racial Justice Fellows) lead a conversation about a national network of cooperators of color (myceliYUM) using the wisdom of mushrooms and mycelium.
Healed with water, laughter, fire, rest, and breath
Participants enjoying a lovely afternoon at the Eno River.
When all was said and done, participants left with these skills:
- Trajectories to navigate and find co-op values in a community. How to be in relation to the land and communicate it to others.
- Marketing as storytelling, Business Planning, Co-op Principles
- Mapping my marketing and communications
- Patience, true compassion and real relationship building
- MyceliYum co-creation, space creation for ritual, plants medicine
- Building networks, gardening and farming knowledge
- Different ways to structure collectives and co-ops
- How to plan for social media and how to talk about 1-3 food and land struggles in this country
And had this to say about their experience:
- The CoFED Summer Co-op Academy was a really transformative and magical experience! It was valuable to connect with co-ops from across the US and Canada that share similar visions for food and social justice. It was also inspiring to learn from everyone's different experiences and knowledge about farming, food, and working collectively towards liberation!
- Co-Op Academy was invigorating and grounding. I learned how to navigate in my co-op in ways that are abundant and true to me and us, in ways that do not suck the light out of us or feel dirty (as dealing with money in this capitalist state often feels). I learned how to empower myself and my co-op members and I learned about those who paved the way for us food and land liberation workers.
- Transformational! MYCELIYUM MAGIC. Very affirming and eye opening, feeling transformed and exposed to new ideas and possibilities/ concepts.
Moving forward, here's how this year's cohort plans to apply what they (un)learned:
- What I learned at the academy will help me access community in a way that is embodied and based on a set of shared and integrated principles, including accessing spirit and call on ancestry through tradition and the stewarding of relationships.
- I felt very inspired by everyone at the Academy and work folks were doing in their communities - this experience has taught me how to vision for the long term and dream big in terms of what's possible. It made me rethink how I approach my work.
- Definitely applying the resources and perspective learned to the co -op and also sharing these ideologies with others.
- Bringing the gift of the importance of our relationship with the land back to our communities the importance of investing in our selves and taking care of the land and not losing these ancestral practices and also building generational wealth and abundance for the land and our people.
Be sure to follow us on IG and Twitter @thecofed and on FB @cofed to follow this year's cohort and support their visions for food and land justice!