May 1, 2013 at the Amherst shop, 71 So. Pleasant Street
Stronger Together: A Celebration of Co-operatives and Agriculture
Cape Cod Lounge, Student Union on UMass, Amherst campus.
FREE FOOD from local farms and co-ops!
LIVE MUSIC from the ephemeral string band!
MOVIE CLIPS from community building initiatives!
LIGHTNING TALKS from people inspired by working together
Thanks to UMass Economics Department, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, the Co-operative Enterprise Collaborative and the co-operatives that contributed to Stronger Together.
Two VAWC Co-op Celebrate their 10 Years of Co-Operation!
Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics 10th Anniversary Party was September 15 at PV2′s office in Greenfield. Just one week later Pedal People Co-operative Celebrated their 10th Anniversary. To think that 10 years ago there were approximately 20 less member/owners in our valley who are now saving us from CO2 emissions, salvaging more compost, installing more alternative power systems, decreasing road damage, decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels, the list goes on and on.
Congratulations and thanks to both co-ops and all their member/owners.
Co-operative Enterprise Collaborative Professor Nancy Folbre delivers Cole Lecture at UMass, Amherst
UMass Campus Center, September, 2012
Nancy Folbre, awarded the Cole Lecture, spoke about co-operatives in her talk ‘Co-operatives: The New Localism’. Folbre focused on advantages of co-ops – such as their enhanced sustainability, wealth and education in communities – as well as co-op support organizations – VAWC and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association who along with faculty and students at UMass founded the UMass Co-operative Enterprise Collaborative.
Co-Cycle Welcome Back
September 3, 2012 in Kendrick Park, Amherst
As a Steering Committee member of the Valley Co-operative Business Association VAWC assisted in co-sponsoring this event to welcome back these tried and true cross country co-op promoting cyclists. Did you know a group of over a dozen Hampshire College students rode 4,000 miles on bicycles promoting co-ops? For more, click here.
VAWC was part of a thread of co-operative workshops at this year’s NOFA conference. For details on the workshops below, email us at the info on the footer.
“Co-ops Build a Better World” - NFCA
June 22 – 24, 2012 in Boston, MA
VAWC Staff and VAWC Member Co-op Representatives were a part of several workshops involving Co-operation among Co-operatives, Co-op Conversions and Co-op Development.
- Regional Experiments in Principle 6: with Webster Walker, Bob Noble, Peter Brown, Andi Shively, Adam Trott
- Worker Cooperative Conversions: with David Ritchie, John Abrams, Rebekah Hanlon of (Valley Green Feast)
- Opening Plenary: Diversity, Accountability and FundingVAWC began the morning plenary and shared the perspective of co-op led support and development. Also on the Plenary was MadWORC, Arizmendi, WAGES, USW/Mondragon and MIT/CoLab
- Co-op Conversions: Can We Have Some More, Please?: with Don Jamison, Rebekah Hanlon (Valley Green Feast) and Noemi Giszpenc.
Email email@example.com for more.
Participation in a new Co-op track, John Restakis as a plenary speaker and presenting the co-operative model
Co-op Track at the Summit - Cross-sector ideas, intelligence and action for sustainable living
- Humanizing the Economy – John Restakis – author of Humanizing the Economy: Co-operatives in the Age of Capital - presented on themes of his book and it’s connections to Slow Values.
- Building a Better World – Neighboring Food Co-op Association, UMass 5 Credit Union, Organic Valley Co-op and Equal Exchange invited attendees to explore the impact and potential of the co-operative movement.
- Co-ops and Business Succession: Converting to Co-op and Why – Bonnie from the Neighboring Food Co-op Association hosted this panel with VAWC, Valley Green Feast, Green Mountain Spinnery, Old Creamery Co-op and Real Pickles. These business leaders have either converted businesses to a co-operative or are considering doing so, and shared their experience and lessons with the audience. VAWC, having converted two businesses to co-ops, had the opportunity to share their experience with both VGF and Brattleboro Holistic Health Center.
John Restakis sits on Slow Living Plenary
In his workshop, he asserted that disconnection between conventional economics and social ends lie at the heart of our economic crisis and illuminated co-ops as a special opportunity via their democracy, participation and meeting social goals and aspirations. With a critical mind of remaining true to Co-op Principles, Values a co-op’s particular mission systems such as education, social care and accountability to businesses improve, delivering on the needs of the community instead of profit.
Presenting the Co-operative Model
Local Food Systems: A Celebration of the International Year of Co-operatives
April 18, 2012, Cape Cod Lounge in UMass, Amherst’s Student Union
The United Nations has declared 2012 the International Year of Co-operatives and students in the UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Program helped to spread the word! The event showcased student research and present a discussion session with of a panel of representatives from these local coops; Valley Green Feast Collective, Pedal People Co-operative, Earthfoods Cafe, Franklin Community Co-ops, and Equal Exchange. We are hosting this event to celebrate the role of cooperatively owned business in supporting the strength of the pioneer valley food system.
Amherst Community Market Interest Meeting
Saturday, April 14, 2012
VAWC co-presented with Mary Hoyer (of Co-operative Fund of New England) and Fred Rose (of the Wellspring Initiative) on a panel sponsored by Greenwork entitled Good Green Jobs: owned by union members?
Concepts VAWC presented on were: Co-op advantages of rooting wealth and jobs in communities; returning investment to communities and members; the value of co-op led efforts for regional economic development; co-operative ownership serves as a multi-generational asset, side stepping succession issues in conventional ownership; and the existing infrastructure of co-op led efforts like VAWC and Neighboring Food Co-op Association.
Thanks to Boone Shear, GreenWork and Jon Weissman for inviting VAWC.
January, 2012 at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan
Thanks to Solidarity NYC for inviting VAWC to present on co-op led co-op development and ‘meso-level’ organizations at the Brecht Forum. It was an honor to be there with other presenters and panelists.
National Co-op Month 2011
Thanks to all the co-ops and event planners who Co-op Month in the Valley happen. Visitors from co-ops in other countries, other states and other regions came together to educate about our model.
Special thanks to the Co-op Month Planning Committee
Small Family Farms, Co-ops in the Food System and the Challenges of the Market
October 17, at the Media Education Foundation in Northampton
Equal Exchange was the organizer and VAWC the co-sponsor – Featuring guest panelist Señor Pedro Antonio Ascencio Jimenez, farmer and marketing co-ordinator Las Colinas Co-operative, Tacuba, El Salvador, Rebekah Hanlon from Valley Green Feast Collective and VAWC staff.
Opening Reception of the Valley Co-operative Business Association
The Valley Co-operative Business Association was recently established by a group of food co-ops, worker co-ops and a credit union to make our co-ops more visible, to advance our region’s co-operative economy and to make the benefits of co-operation more available in our community.
Steering Committee Members: Sean Capaloff-Jones, UMass 5 Credit Union • Suzette Snow Cobb, Franklin Community Co-op (Greenfield’s and McCusker’s Markets) • Erbin Crowell, Neighboring Food Co-op Association • Jon Reske, UMass 5 Credit Union • Adam Trott, Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives
Click here to learn more and like VCBA on facebook.
Co-ops on the The River!
October 12, live radio broadcast at River Valley Market Hosted by Bill Newman and Monte, VAWC was part of the live panel discussion on WRSI, The River 93.9 talking about the economic impact and competitive advantages of co-ops and how co-ops create community wealth. Thanks to everyone who tuned in! Don’t forget to tune in! Kim Pinkham (Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics) and Erbin Crowell (Neighboring Food Co-op Assocation), Rochelle Prunty (River Valley Market) were also panelists.
Co-op Month Kick-Off!
September 30, Greenfield’s Market
The annual kick-off at Greenfield’s featuring co-ops of all stripes present and sometimes tabling, music, poetry, and a live broadcast from WRSI, The River!
VAWC’s 6th Anniversary
Interco-operation among worker co-ops celebrated September 28, 2011
We have come a long way together since meeting in a member’s kitchen on Route 9 in Hadley six years ago. Integrated co-op led development, creation of a VAWC co-op development fund serving co-ops of all stripes, shared advertising and marketing services, co-creation of a Certificate of Co-operative Enterprise…the list goes on and on about what we’ve accomplished together. Congratulations to everybody.
2 Events with Elinor Ostrom, Noble Prize Winner in Economics
Worker Co-operators and our supporters dine and talk with Dr. Ostrom about collective action
The Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops, as part of UMass Co-operative Enterprise Collaborative, was honored to host Ostrom to a conversation linking current research in collective action and co-op led development in the valley. Ostrom, the first woman to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, engaged us in her work to date and responded to our interest in how co-ops might benefit from research and perhaps become subjects for the future. We are excited about next steps in the conversation and are thankful for the opportunity to speak with such an approachable, informed Nobel Laureate!
Elinor Ostrom, Noble Prize Winner in Economics, speaks at UMass
UMass, Amherst Economics Department Gamble Lecture Series, September 2011, UMass
Ostrom’s seminal book, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, was published in 1990. But her research on common property goes back to the early 1960s, when she wrote her dissertation on groundwater in California. In 1973 she and her husband, Vincent Ostrom, founded the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. In the intervening years, the Workshop has produced hundreds of studies of the conditions in which communities self-organize to solve common problems. Ostrom currently serves as professor of political science at Indiana University and senior research director of the Workshop. The Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops, as part of UMass Co-operative Enterprise Collaborative, invited Ostrom, the first woman to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, to speak at UMass about her work regarding collective action. Thanks to all the professors, students and supporters who came to the lecture.
2011 NOFA Summer Conferece
The 37th NOFA Summer Conference
August 2011 at UMass Amherst
VAWC presented on how to apply a sustainable business model to agriculture on Saturday to attendees from Vermont, Massachusetts, New York and Maine and more. Conversation around translating replicable systems to new areas and utilizing existing co-op systems were a central topic, as was conversions from existing businesses in VAWC’s region. We are very excited to follow up on these ideas and potential co-ops.
July, 2011 at Worcester Youth Center
VAWC would like to thank the organizers for the invitation to be a part of the co-op strand of this one day conference that included activists, farmers, political representatives, worker co-operators and more. Adam presented on VAWC’s co-op driven model and brought questions to the dialog of what ‘green’ and ‘solidarity economy’ could mean for Worcester: Why is co-operative ownership a natural model for ‘green’ and ‘solidarity’ economies? How can the Solidarity Economy learn from successful international worker co-op complexes? How can we apply a “co-opreneurial” approach to the solidarity economy? After conversations and feedback it seems VAWC could be useful by supporting a group that seeks to utilize co-operation’s sustainable business model to strengthen missions of environmental and economic concerns in Worcester. With the critical mass that Worcester has in Toxic Soil Busters, Empower Co-op and Worcester Roots the possibilities of worker co-op system collaboration are very exciting.
Connecting Our Workplaces; Building Cooperative Economies
July, 2011 at University of Maryland, Baltimore County
• VAWC was featured in Grassroots Economic Organizing‘s one day conference, ‘Advancing Development of Worker Co-operatives’, as a model of co-op led development. VAWC was able to communicate how our revenue based dues and surplus driven development fund puts accountability and direction of development into the hands of co-operators. We were honored to speak along side the other presenters, included among them: Vanessa Bransburg of Center for Family Life, Steve Dubb of the Democracy Collaborative, Tim Huet of the Arizmendi Association of Co-operatives, and Andi Shively of Third Coast Workers for Co-operation.
• Adam Trott and Erin Kassis presented ‘Building Regional Co-operative Economies’ at this year’s 2011 Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy. Starting off with some co-op history and case studies of international examples, co-operators and their supporters met divided up by region to formulate a plan on how to build on the International Year of Co-operatives to mobilize co-op resources to build interco-operative resources.For more on this presentation, GEO or ECWD, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eighth Annual Vermont Employee Ownership Conference
June 10, 2011 in Burlington, VT
Adam Trott (VAWC Staff Developer) presented at three workshops at this year’s VEOC conference focusing on the worker co-operative aspects of the worker ownership movement. The first two workshops were co-presented by VAWC and Erbin Crowell (Executive Director, Neighboring Food Co-op Association, and the last was organized by Cindy Turcot, COO of Gardner’s Supply.
• Worker Co-ops: Challenges and Successes - What are the sources of satisfaction – and potential frustration – that come with the worker co-op way of doing business? This session will feature a frank discussion among those who work in co-op businesses, and a chance to learn from others’ experiences.
• Forming a Worker Cooperative: Start-Ups and Conversions -This session will provide a step-by-step roadmap for converting an established company into a worker cooperative or creating one from scratch. We’ll focus on the nuts and bolts of setting up a worker cooperative, describe how it is distinct from other models and how to make it run smoothly over time. Governance roles, sharing of surplus and day-to-day operations will be discussed.
• Nifty Fifty: Best Ideas for Communications in Employee-Owned Companies - Get your pen and paper ready! In this fast paced session, our panel of employee-owned companies known for the quality of their communications will share an idea a minute of great ways they educate and engage their employees. The panel will offer 50+ ideas you can use in your workplace.
For more information about these workshops, contact VAWC at email@example.com. For more information on the conference click here.
April 28, 2011 at Food For Thought Books Collective
Valley Green Feast - the farmer’s market at your door - held a special event at Food For Thought Books Collective presenting their services, products and co-op structure. Presentations from farmers, VGF workers, and VAWCers made for an informative, inspiring event along with music, food and raffles. One attendee won a free week’s service from VGF and another wona worker co-operative gift basket courtesy of Collective Copies.
Special Thanks to Food For Thought Books Collective for hosting
Digging Out from Crisis and Austerity in Europe and The United States: Finance, Job Creation, Public Ownership and Green Recovery
April, 2011, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
One panel of three focused on co-operatives: Economic Restructuring: Industrial Policy, the Green Economy and Cooperative Ownership Forms 3:30 – 5:30
James Heintz, PERI, University of Massachusetts, Amherst Jonathan Michie, University of Oxford Robert Pollin, PERI, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Tom Webb speaking engagement at UMass, Amherst
March 31, 2011 UMass, Amherst School of Management
Mr. Webb, an Adjunct Professor at Saint Mary’s University and the Program Manager of the Master of Management – Co-operatives and Credit Unions program, was invited by the UMass Co-operative Enterprise Collaborative to speak on his involvement in this great program. The only program of its kind in North America, Master of Management focuses on co-operatives and demonstrates the potential of the relationship between education and co-operation.
Mr. Webb is a former Director of Extension at St. Francis Xavier University and prior to his university work he has 25 years experience as a co-operative manager, member of several co-operative boards of directors, co-operative business consultant and advisor to two cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister on regional development. His research interests cover a range of co-operative management issues and he has spoken widely on various aspects of co-operative business. He is currently involved in a major SSHRCC funded project exploring accounting in co-operatives.
November, 2010, UMASS Amherst
Ted Howard, of the Democracy Collaborative, spoke at UMASS and in Springfield on how Cleveland Co-operatives model could be an asset to our region. Ted Howard was part of the planning of Evergreen Co-operative Laundry and the new plan for a co-operative Cleveland. For more go to Democracy Collaborative‘s website.
This year’s co-op month featured a VAWC sponsored co-op education spots on WRSI and WHMP The River, a sale at Collective Copies, a kick-off event at Greenfield’s Market and more. Thanks to everybody who made this month special.
Vermont Co-op Summit
October 2010 in Burlington, VT
The second-ever gathering of Vermont cooperative leaders for co-operators to hear, lessons to share, and economies to be leveraged under the banner theme of: Building on the Power of Cooperatives.
For more information, go to VT Co-op Summit’s website.
Co-op Month 2010 Kick-Off at Greenfield’s Market
October 1, 2010 at Greenfield’s Market
VAWC, Our Family Farms, Co-op 108 and the Old Creamery Co-op were just some of those in attendance during the Kick-Off. Monte and Mark Lattanzi from WRSI The River were broadcasting live from Greenfield’s with co-ops answering questions and talking about their model. Samples from Our Family Farms and Co-op 108 were given, the Co-op Jazz Ensemble played and a month long raffle of co-op items began – including Collective Copies and Fagor of Mondragon.
Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Regional Conference
Alex Jarrett of Pedal People and Erbin Crowell, former VAWC Staff Pilot Project Co-ordinator and now Executive Director of Neighboring Food Co-operatives Association, presented a workshop at this year’s conference contributing co-operative, sustainable process and ownership to sustainable farming and agriculture. Go to http://www.nofasummerconference.org for more information.
VAWC was delighted to be represented at this year’s United States Federation of Worker Co-operatives conference. A strong collection of workshops, general sessions and connections created a great opportunity to learn more about our movement as well as present our work.
Adam Trott, of Collective Copies, presented Co-op Led and Funded Co-op Development: VAWC’s Staff Co-ordinatorand we are excited about the feedback and attendance.
Michael Johnson, Volunteer Organizer, led a workshopDeveloping Compassion, Self Empowerment, and Cooperation: Approaching conflicts creatively within cooperatives and democratic groups.
Erbin Crowell and Adam Trott are awarded the Eastern Region’s Co-operator of the Year Award
The United States Federation of Worker Co-operatives awarded Erbin and Adam with this prestigious award recognizing our effort to co-create VAWC’s Staff Pilot Project. We are honored to receive this award and would like to thank the board and staff of the USFWC for their recognition and support.
Eighth Annual Vermont Employee Ownership Conference
June 2010 in Burlington, VT
VAWC was excited about the opportunity to be a part of VEOC’s conference this year, and would like to thank Jon and Don in the VEOC office. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request hand-outs or pdfs of the workshops we were in, listed below:
- Governance in Worker Co-ops: A Comparison of Approaches - Erbin Crowell, VAWC Staff Project Co-ordinator and Cooperative Fund of New England; AaronDawson, Equal Exchange; Adam Trott, Collective Copies and VAWC
- Forming and Operating a Worker Cooperative - Erbin Crowell; and Newell Lessell of The ICA Group
- Building the Movement: New Initiatives to Grow Employee Ownership -Don Jamison, VEOC, moderator; Phil Fiermonte, Office of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders; Chris Mackin, Ownership Associates; Adam Trott, VAWC and Cooperative Capital Fund
- Consensus Decision-Making - Merryn Rutledge, ReVisions; Adam Trott
Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives receives Austin Miller Award for Business
We are honored to receive the 2010 Austin Miller award for business from River Valley Market and our commitment to Support For Community. The 11 worker co-operatives in VAWC’s region work closely to the seven co-operative principles everyday as we co-run our businesses and would like to thank River Valley Market for recognizing our commitment. To read more click Austin Miller Award 2010.
Center for Popular Economics’ 30th Anniversary and Conference
March 26, 2010
VAWC took part in the Activist Buffet at CPE’s 30th Conference. Adam Trott represented and offered the co-operative model as part of creating sustainable jobs in our economy, especially in light of rising unemployment. Kevin Crocker of UMass Economics Department spoke of his department’s recent partnership with VAWC as one example of how universities can partner and work with their community. It was a pleasure to be present at this event and to speak along side Co-op Power, Nuestras Raices, and PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Mass.)
Western Massachusetts Jobs with Justice Conference, 2010
March 6, at Holyoke Community College
Western Mass JWJ‘s workshops were different vital starting points for discussing strategies and tactics to change Who Decides throughout society: Unemployment; Education; Good Green Jobs; and Health Care.
- Adam Trott (Collective Copies), Erbin Crowell (VAWC Staff Pilot Project Coordinator) and Mary Hoyer (Co-operative Fund of New England) co chaired a panel titled Good Green Jobs: Who Decides?
- Keynote Speaker: Rob Witherell, United Steelworkers, on “Mondragon in the US?” and the USW’s partnership with Mondragon Cooperative Corporation. Click here to view the press release and to find out more.
Rethinking Marxism Conference 2009
November 5 to 8, 2009, Umass Amherst
VAWC presented at two workshops as part of the Alternative Economies/Community Economies track of RM09.
- Worker Co-operatives in the Pioneer Valley and Beyond - Janelle Cornwell and Michael Johnson of the VAWC Book Project and Adam Trott of Collective Copies presented on the worker co-operative movement, growth of co-operative space, and the VAWC Book Project. We also concentrated energy on forming relationships with Marxists of all stripes who share values of worker ownership and control, member economic participation, and education.
- Roundtable on the Solidarity Economy - Adam Trott participated on a panel about the framework and possibilities of the United States Solidarity Economy Network.
Other VAWC members and supporters were be part of this track as well, including Alex Jarrett of Pedal People, Stephen Healy of Co-op 108, Mike Leung of the Worker Co-op Federal Credit Union, and Karen Werner, Julie Graham and Ted White of Community Economies Collective. Click here for more information.
Co-op Valley! The Worker Co-operative Movement in the Connecticut River Valley
Info session and fundraiser at Food For Thought Books in Amherst
November 3rd, 2009
VAWC’s co-writers, Janelle Cornwell, Julie Graham, Michael Johnson, Adam Trott, and Karen Werner, were joined by dozens of the curious, the experienced, the involved, and more at Co-op Valley’s special event. In our effort to describe the past and present of the worker co-operative movement in the valley we are writing a book featuring bios and interviews of worker co-operators. We are trying to cover interview transcribing costs and are going to our movement and community asking for advance sales of the book.
A very successful event, the co-writers would like to thank Food For Thought Books for their energy, their organizing, and their support. We would also like to thank Sweaty Buttons for their wonderful music throughout the evening. Lastly we would like to thank everyone for coming and the outpour of support!
VAWC and Amherst Cinema’s special screening of Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story”
VAWC collaborated with Amherst Cinema to present a panel discussion on an aspect featured in Moore’s film, worker co-operatives. Like the co-ops featured,Alvarado Street Bakery and Isthmus Engineering, VAWC member co-operatives are built upon co-operative principles. Principles like open and voluntary membership, democratic member control, member economic participation, etc, bring work back into the democratic sphere where. We had five worker co-operators speak after the film to answer questions, talk about what they do and why it matters:
- Kalista Aird – Gaia Host Collective
- Alex Jarrett – Pedal People Co-operative
- Philippe Rigollaud – Pioneer Valley PhotoVoltaics (PV2)
- Adam Trott – Collective Copies
- Esther White – Ronin Tech Collective
Thanks to all who came, who supported us and asked questions. Special thanks to Amherst Cinema for screening this important film and collaborating with us and educating about the economic alternatives in our community.
4th Anniversary Party
Worker co-operators and those who love them got to spend time together to celebrate our 4th, and busiest, year of partnership in creating a co-operative economy. Yeah, we talked a little business here and there (Hey, sustaining mission driven businesses during a recession isn’t easy), but the only thing on this night’s agenda was to have a great time together. How fun to get together and see everyone!
Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy 5th Biennial Conference
Democracy Works: Worker Cooperatives, Labor Solidarity and Sustainability
July 31 to August 2, 2009 at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
VAWC co-op members a
nd friends attended and took part in co-ordinating this year’s ECWD. Car and train loads of us came and a few of us even took a bike trip to D.C. together afterwards! Charles Strader and Adam Trott stepped down from board memberships and welcomed our new members including Philippe Rigollaud of Pioneer Valley PhotoVoltaics. Congratulations, Philippe!
Other VAWC contributions include:
- Co-op Development: Our Stories - Alex Jarrett and Ruthy Woodring, co-presenters, with others
- Sustaining Ourselves and Our Work Groups - Michael Johnson and Adam Trott, co-ordinators
- Welcome and Introduction to Worker Co-operatives - MC’ed by Charles Strader
- Community-Based Education for Worker Co-operatives - Brian Van Slyke, co-presenter, with others
- Lending and Equity Resources for Worker Co-operatives - Erbin Crowell, co-presenter, with others
- Worker Co-ops Going Green- Charles Strader and Philippe Rigollaud, co-presenters, with others
- Building a Co-operative Economy; Lessons from Emilia Romagna and Mondragon and the VAWC Staff Pilot Project - Erbin Crowell and Adam Trott, co-presenters
- Worker Co-ops and Job Creation in Underserved Communities - Jen Gutshall and Brian Van Slyke, co-presenters, with others
- Local Co-operative Alliances: What They Are and Why You Should Form One - Erbin Crowell, Alex Jarrett, Charles Strader and Adam Trott, co-presenters, with others
Adam, Michael and Janelle Cornwell also co-ordinated the Health Track for this conference, leading walks, meditation and Yoga for attendees.
Annual US Federation of Worker Cooperatives Member Meeting
June 20, 2009 in Madison Wisconsin
Charles Strader of Gaia Host attended this member meeting and was VAWC’s delegate. VAWC made contact with Madison Association of Worker Co-operatives to support their local network organizing and and supported the discussion items on interco-operation. Official USFWC member minutes are found here.
A Reunion of the Food For Thought Books Collective
Celebrating 33 Years of Mutual Aid, Co-operation and Workplace Democracy
June 6 2009, at Food For Thought Books in Amherst
From former collective member Dave Gerratt -
In 1976, my friend Dick bought a few books and sold them at the Amherst (Mass.) pre-order food coop. With the proceeds, he bought a few more. Within a year he and a handful of others (including yours truly) had started selling progressive books and magazines at events at various locations throughout the Northeast. In the summer of 1978, Food for Thought books was the official bookseller for the Toward Tomorrow alternative energy fair on the UMass Amherst campus. We ordered roughly $30,000 worth of books on credit and netted $12,000 in a weekend. This offered us the opportunity to start paying some staff and to rent our first office space. Until then, our all-volunteer collective members had been working out of a living room and a van.
Thirty-three years later, Food for Thought books is a thriving, collectively run, storefront bookstore in downtown Amherst. On June 6, the store closed for the day so we could have a reunion. It is the first time that the original collective members, current members, and all those in between, had the opportunity to share our experiences and dreams. It was a wonderful day. We discovered that the mission and vision had changed little over time and that those of us who have moved on continue to be driven by the same values that brought us to the bookstore in the first place.
Wanna help kick off the next 33 years? Visit Food For Thought Book’s website.
Forum on the Solidarity Economy: Building Another World
March 19-22, 2009 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
This four day conference included an inspiring range of solidarity economy tours, workshops, plenaries and cultural events. Solidarity economy practitioners and resource organizations, social movement activists, workers, academics, students, researchers, cultural workers, journalists and other fellow travelers, came and were part of the growing global movement to build the solidarity economy. Vawc members came together to co-present a workshop:
- Worker Co-operatives: Who we are, how we work and how we contribute to the solidarity economy -
Co-Presenters: Charles Uchu Strader, Erika Arthur, Erbin Crowell, Alex Jarrett and Adam Trott
Sprawl and Local Economies Teach-In
At Food for Thought Books, December 2008
The ‘Grand Opening’ of Home Depot begs the questions: Is this the kind of economic development we need and want? If not, what are the alternatives? Emily Kawano (Center for Popular Economics), Jon Weissman (WM Jobs with Justice), Prakash Laufer (The Brick House and United for a Fair Economy), Simon Keyes (Keyes Construction), and Nick Seamon (Black Sheep Deli) as well as representatives from VAWC, Stop SprawlMart and many other great groups shared ideas and models for alternative solutions to economic development.
3rd Anniversary Party!
September, 2008 in Greenfield, MA Charles held our third anniversary party this year at his fine new place in Greenfield. A beautiful view and delicious home-made food and drink were enjoyed together, along with a little swimming. Thanks for hosting, Charles!
Democracy at Work: 3rd National Conference of Worker Cooperatives and Democratic Workplaces
June 19-22, 2008 in New Orleans, LA
The conference was held on the campus of Loyola University in New Orleans, and was co-sponsored by the Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice at Loyola. It focused on information exchange and skill-sharing, thinking about our place in a larger movement for economic justice, creating connections with each other and other groups, and continuing to build our national Federation. VAWC was happy to have several members attending!
Special thanks to Collective Copies who sent three of their own members and 3 other vawcers to the conference!
- Growing a New Economy: Local and Regional Support Networks for Democratic Workplaces- Adam Trott, co-presenter. Click here for notes of this workshop.
2nd Anniversary Party!
September 1, 2007
We celebrated VAWC’s 2nd anniversary at the Greenfield Energy Park in Greenfield, Massachusetts. A pot luck, worker’s families and friends, local musicians, and the occasional passer-by. A wonderful time had by all!
Building Cooperation: East to South in Asheville, North Carolina
Special thanks to Kim Pinkham for organizing the VAWC Van and getting almost twenty vawcers and other people in the cooperative movement down to Ashville! ECWD’s 4th conference was a success and marked our consistent growth in attendance and richness in workshops and presenters. Click here for more information. Here’s the list of workshops VAWC was involved in:
- Building Alliances with Labor: Unions and Worker Co-ops- co-presenter Adam Trott
- Strengthening Worker Co-ops through Local Networks- Dave, Kim and Adam all co-presented on this new workshop.
- Domestic Fair Trade: Cooperation Among Cooperatives- Erbin Crowell coordinated and Adam Trott co-presented this workshop showing how cooperatives are working together to market, produce and sell worker cooperative products. For more information on this exciting project go to the Domestic Fair Trade Association’s Website.
United States Social Forum: Another World is Possible – Another U.S. is Necessary!
June 27 – July 1, 2007 · Atlanta, GA.
VAWC members and VAWC ally Community Economies Collective combined forces to present community economics at this historic first United States Social Forum. Our 5 person team presented as part of the Unites States Solidarity Economy Network schedule. Here’a list of worker co-op related workshops:
- Another Workplace is Possible: Co-ops and Workplace Democracy- Melissa Hoover
- Building Community Economies any time any place- Community Economies Collective
- Growing Transformative Businesses- co-presenter Adam Trott spoke about the story of Collective Copies its role in transforming business, workers and communities. Jessica Gordon Nembhard, co-editor of Wealth Accumulation and Communities of Color in the US and GEO member also co-presented, using community, worker and agency run business models in her section Community-based Economic Development.
- Solidarity Economy: Building Alternatives for People and Planet, a book produced about the work presented at the USSF is available. For more information contact Changemaker Publications.
Western Massachusetts Social Forum
April 14-15, 2007 in Amherst, Massachusetts
VAWC members had the pleasure of presenting at the first Western Mass Social Forum in Amherst, MA. The workshops involving VAWC were:
- Building Community Economies in the Pioneer Valley- Janelle Cornwell, Karen Werner, and Ted White (Community Economies Collective)
- Another World is Here: Lessons from the Real World- Julie Graham and Emily Kawano (WMass Economic Alternatives Network). For a report of this workshop click here.
- Radicals at Work & Worker Co-ops- Stephanie Luce, Adam Trott, others
To see a report of this Social Forum click here.
Fall 2006 GEO article
VAWC in GEO
In 2006 Grassroots Economic Organizing printed a double issue collaborating with the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives. They featured regional and local updates on worker cooperatives. You can read more from this great collective at their website.
October 2006 in New York City
The Federation held its 2nd bi-annual conference in October. Over three hundred worker cooperators and their allies gathered downtown to Wake Up Wall Street!.Colors hosted the opening reception where conference participants and presenters were welcomed by Paul Hazen, CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association(NCBA). Connections, a women’s worker co-op from Rhode Island, provided Spanish interpretation for all the workshops and plenaries. Even the party at the Brecht Forum on Saturday night offered diversity: live hip hop, folk rock, reggae and Puerto Rican bomba music.
With the help of VAWC coordinating, western Massachusetts was one of the best represented areas of the country. Collective Copies, Pelham Auto, Gaia Host Collective, PV Squared, Community Economies Research Group, CFNE, CDI and Brattleboro Tech Collective were all represented. Many of us even shared a drive down in George’s Mom’s minivan. Thanks, Brace family!
Our very own Steve Strimer of Collective Copies contributed to this conference. He co-presented Growth and the Worker Cooperative Movement. Click here to see a report of the conference.
Center for Popular Economics Summer Institute
July 23-29, 2006 at Amherst College
VAWC members and Melissa Hoover of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives presented at CPE’s powerful and informative institute. Here’s a list of the workshops we were a part of:
- Julie Graham, co-presenter at the plenary (CPE staff economist, local economic activist and author of A Postcapitalist Politics): “Create Your Own Economy Now! A Global Vision for Local Communities”
- Where’s the Money: Resources for Economic Alternatives Mary Hoyer (Cooperative Fund of New England) along with William Spademan (Common Good Bank) and others
- New-Old ways of living and owning Charles Uchu Strader (Gaia Host Collective, Sirius Community) and others
- Cooperatives 101 Discussion with Len Krimerman (Grassroots Economic Organizing), Mary Hoyer, Melissa Hoover (U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives), and others
- Worker Cooperatives: Some Theory and A Lot of Practice Steve Strimer, Adam Trott
- Cooperatives: Globalization and Competition Len Krimerman (Grassroots Economic Organizing), Melissa Hoover
- From Workers to Owners Melissa Hoover
On June 22, 2006 VAWC and Food For Thought Books co-hosted a book signing with John Abrams, a worker/owner of South Mountain Company in Martha’s Vineyard. John read from his illuminating and inspiring book about the South Mountain Company’s history and their conversion to a worker co-operative. Click here for more information on buying a copy.
VAWC invited to meeting at El Mercado
In April of 2006 VAWC, with the help of Eduardo Suarez, talked and answered questions about the worker cooperatives. We were able to speak with a youth educators, ex-convict job creators and a former not-for-profit director about offering a cooperative solution to job creation and community building.