New Directions in Worker Cooperative Development
Friday, June 22, 2012
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Plenary Sessions: Building 3-270
Breakout Sessions: 5-134, 5-217, 5-234
Co-produced by USFWC and Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO)
Sponsored and hosted by MIT CoLab
With interest in worker cooperatives coming from all directions - community groups, cooperative developers, immigrant communities, unions, cities, community economic development organizations, and everyday people wanting to own and control their own businesses - now is the time to continue the national conversation on worker cooperative development. Our aim is a multifaceted and critically appreciative conversation that addresses the deeper issues both animating and challenging worker cooperative development in 2012. Participants will emerge with a richer understanding of the landscape of worker cooperative development and a critical analysis of some development models. We are bringing together cooperative developers, organizers, academics, policymakers, and people who work in worker cooperatives to advance a conversation on “how to move boldly, effectively, and coherently toward establishing a cooperative economy.”
This daylong intensive continues the ongoing development discussion started by GEO at the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy in 2011. It will pick up on five major themes emerging from that discussion: (1) Growth (2) Accountability (3) Funding (4) Diversity (5) Documenting Successful Practices
OPENING PLENARY: DIVERSITY, ACCOUNTABILITY, FUNDING
Worker Cooperative-Initiated Development Models: Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives, MadWORC
Worker Cooperative Developers: Arizmendi, WAGES
Developing Worker Cooperatives as Part of a Larger Strategy or Program: USW/Mondragon, MIT/CoLab
The Challenges of Cooperative Development and Sustainability: “The Tough Stuff”
Roy Messing, Ohio Employee Ownership Center; Deb Goldberg, WAGES Cooperatives
Coop Development Models: Lessons for Boston 5-217
Julie Matthaei, Solidarity Economy Network; Fred Rose, Wellspring and Public Policy Program, University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Juan Leyton, Neighbor to Neighbor; Aaron Tanaka, Boston Workers Alliance
Cooperative Members' Perspectives on the Developer Relationship
Yadira Sanchez, Apple Eco-Friendly Cleaning; Rebekah Hanlon, Valley Green Feast; Maria Aparecida Ribeiro and Eliane Evangelista, Vida Verde; Bertha Naranjo, Ivette Melendez, WAGES; more to be announced
12:15 - 1:45
LUNCH PLENARY: ACCOUNTABILITY
First Do No Harm: The Real Risks in Cooperative Development
Conversation convened and guided by Jessica Gordon-Nembhard, Stacey Cordeiro
Crowd Funding, Technology Startups and Cooperatives: A New Era of Innovation?
Luan Cox, GreenUnite.com; Michael Peck, Mondragon USA; Jon Guice, Combined Power Cooperative
Community Organizing, Community Economic Development and Worker Cooperatives: Urban and Rural Models
Camille Pannu, Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment; others TBA
Co-op Conversions: Can We Have Some More, Please?
Presenters: Don Jamison,Vermont Employee Ownership Center; Adam Trott, Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives; Betsy Black, Cooperative Fund of New England; Hazel Corcoran, Canadian Federation of Worker Cooperatives; Noemi Giszpenc, Cooperative Development Institute; Margaret Lund; Roy Messing, Ohio Employee Ownership Center
Co-op Development 201: a strategic conversation about increasing impact
Presenter: Hilary Abell
CLOSING PLENARY: DIVERSITY, DOCUMENTING SUCCESSFUL PRACTICES
Suggested directions, Lessons from the Day, Looking Ahead, Principles for Worker Cooperative Development?
Reports back from the listeners
Plenary Sessions will be held in Building 3-270
Breakout Sessions will be held in 5-134, 5-217, 5-234
For help navigating the MIT campus, go to http://whereis.mit.edu
Structural Approach: Assessing the Elephant
There may be a whole herd of elephants in the room: principled differences of approach, structural barriers to growth, gaps in knowledge and resources, and voices missing from the conversation, to name just a few. Like the six blind men from the fable, we hope that in the smaller sessions attendees can touch different parts of the elephant, then come back together to share their thoughts and impressions in a spirited critical discussion.
To create consistent threads, throughout the day, in every session and discussion, we will ask the same questions, clustered around the GEO themes:
General: What inspires a particular cooperative development model? What is it trying to achieve? According to what principles does it operate? What are the benefits of the model? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
Growth: What are possibilities of the model for growth and scale? How does it achieve this?
Accountability: How is the model executed? What capacity is needed to do the development well?
In what ways does the model foster and support democratic participation? Wealth-building?
Diversity: Who are the members of the developed cooperatives? Where do they come from? What is their stake in the cooperative? How do their backgrounds shape the model? What is the range of diversity of models themselves?
Funding : Who is undertaking the cooperative development? Who is funding it? Who is directing it? What implications does the funding source have for the cooperative and its members?
Documenting Successful Practices: How does the model relate to those that have come before it? To existing cooperatives? To the larger cooperative community? To other economic alternatives?
Audience: Cooperators and Cooperative Developers
Until now, this conversation on worker cooperative development has been largely private, by invitation, and in smaller group discussions. We have chosen to open the discussion to the public because we believe there is valuable wisdom to be shared, and because we think these discussions need to be heard in larger venues to inform the conversations that are already happening elsewhere.
Interested members of the public are invited to attend, to listen in on the conversation, and to contribute when appropriate.
However, this is first and foremost a discussion among cooperative developers and cooperative members about real-world cooperative development models and issues. It is a critical conversation that assumes a certain level of engagement and experience, and it will remain focused on the deeper issues. We will send out some materials to registrants in advance to help them prepare, but registrants should understand that the conversations we hope to have during the day are not introductory. Our facilitation will focus on ensuring that the conversation stays grounded in practical experience and pointed toward enriching the field of cooperative development.
Registration is now closed.