Breaking the Mold: Grassroots Cooperation
This year’s conference theme focuses on the integral role of cooperatives in building grassroots democracy. In a time when our voices do not feel heard on the national scale, our power lies in our local co-operation.
Innovative projects are gaining traction where co-ops are building regional power through inter-cooperation across the country. More than ten cities have gained municipal funding and support through the strength of local organizing and national networks. Boulder, Minneapolis and Austin are only a few who have gained support by calling on their city council. In Philadelphia when cooperatives came before city council to testify the room was packed with members from the food co-op, residents of local housing cooperatives, workers from child care cooperatives in NYC and Workers from a local construction co-op. When cooperatives support each other our voices and power are amplified. When we reach outside of our cooperatives we need to think how co-ops as organizations can leverage their assets (people, space, funds) to support allied movements for justice.
“Grassroots Cooperation” means building democracy and exploring the ways that individual co-op members develop skills through practicing and experimenting with direct democracy. This experimentation builds robust democratic participation. Cooperatives embrace democracy as neither a structure nor a system— but as a dynamic process that empowers individuals to change the world around them.
This year’s Institute focuses on taking our local resources, our space, our people power and supporting movements for meaningful economic and political change that puts the power in the hands of the people.
Netta Schwarz is a freelance designer/illustrator and student in the Bay Area. She has lived in co-ops for the past three years– currently as a member of the Berkeley Student Cooperative (Casa Zimbabwe) and can’t imagine life without chickens or nut yeast.
Every year NASCO- North American Students of Cooperation- hosts an educational institute for over 400 coopers across the U.S., Canada, and beyond for two and a half days of comprehensive technical programs and discussions. The ICC utilizes our student organization status to acquire the use of the Michigan Union in addition to providing housing for ~250 fellow co-opers. The ICC and NASCO have been cooperating together since the beginning–when NASCO was based in Ann Arbor and had an office within the ICC Central building. This strong partnership between the ICC and NASCO provides benefits to many cooperators.
One of the great things about living in a cooperative (and one of the cooperative principles) is cooperation among cooperatives and education through that, and this is one great opportunity for you to offer this to your members. Even if no one from your house attends Institute, it is still a valuable experience to host guests who are attending because you can ask and learn about their cooperatives from around the nation, get advice from them about how they are run, and share your own tips/tricks/experiences with them. Opening our homes is a great way to make co-op friends from all over the US and Canada-many of our visitors return our hospitality by opening their homes when our members are all over the globe traveling. It’s a wonderful thing that we can offer our members.
ICC Members fill out an internal application NOT NASCO’S application.
Our partnership with NASCO allows us to receive a discounted rate in exchange for housing support and rental coordination with the University of Michigan. In addition to the discount from NASCO, the Education Committee provides further discounts to ensure financial strain does not prohibit a learning opportunity. Given this special dynamic, we fill out a group registration not individual registrations.
The Education Committee is excited to announce that this year, there will be 27 scholarships available, on a first come first serve basis, for $30.00. That means, xx folks will be eligible for a $129.00 discount on one of the most cooperative events in town!!!
Application deadline: November 1st at noon
Payment Method: Direct charge to your Rent Manager account (will appear in December)
Institute Requirements: attend sessions, learn, share and grow