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US Federation of Worker Cooperatives
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The Western Worker Co-op Conference is pleased to welcome two keynote speakers
The Monday evening keynote address will be presented by Rosalinda Guillén.
Guillén is the executive director of De Comunidad a Comunidad (Community to Community Development), a women-led grassroots organization that works on practical solutions to social injustice through self-organizing by dis-empowered communities to build their own institutions to meet their own self-identified needs.
Rosalinda Guillén is working to create a culturally appropriate cooperative development center in order to support local farmworkers in their efforts to establish worker cooperatives. She will share stories of success in forming farmer cooperatives in Whatcom county, WA and Eugene, OR, as well as the issues involved with organizing in multi-ethnic groups in the current farmer - farmworker paradigm. Coming from Mexico as a youth, and raised as a farmworker on a farm in WA, she shares the unique perspective of her personal journey.
See their website for more details: http://foodjustice.org/
On Tuesday, the day will open with a keynote address presented by Gordon Edgar.
Gordon Edgar loves cheese and worker-owned co-ops, and has been combining both of these infatuations as the main cheese buyer for Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco since 1994. Rainbow is the country's largest retail worker co-op. Edgar served on the Western Worker Co-op Conference Planning Committee for a number of years, Rainbow's Board of Directors for five years and currently is a member of Rainbow's Co-op Committee, often representing and explaining Rainbow to the co-op curious. His political cheese memoir, Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge was published in 2010.
Gordon Edgar is a San Francisco-based writer whose political cheese memoir "Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge" was published by Chelsea Green in March 2010
Empowering Farm Worker Communities through Co-op Development — Rosalinda Guillen will share information about how her organization supports local farm workers in their efforts to establish worker cooperative agricultural enterprises in Bellingham, WA.
Co-ops, Cheese and Politics — Gordon Edgar's presentation will draw from his infatuations with worker cooperatives, cheese and his political cheese memoir, Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge. Gordon has been the main cheese buyer for Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco for more than 17 years. Rainbow is the nation's largest retail worker co-op. Edgar served on the WWCC board for a number of years and on Rainbow's board for 5 years.
Steps to Starting a Cooperative — E. Kim Coontz: This workshop provides an overview of the basic framework of the worker cooperative and an overview of the development process, including keys to success, structural considerations and the basics of bylaws, incorporation, and operating procedures. The session is designed for people who are interested in starting a new cooperative business or for those wishing to convert an existing business into a worker cooperative. Format: Lecture/Discussion
How to be a Peer Advisor — Melissa Hoover: This workshop is for people who work in worker cooperatives and want some tools and techniques for effectively fielding all those inquiries we get! Being a peer advisor doesn't mean being an expert, but to do it effectively you need some strategies for figuring out what people want, giving them information that will be useful, and keeping an appropriate distance from their group process. Presenters will review a few basic principles and tools, and then participants will practice giving peer advice in small groups with case studies drawn from real life. We will finish with a discussion of the small group experiences.
Giving & Getting Constructive Criticism — Sarah Kennedy & Carmen White: Our cooperatives hold an immense wealth of information and skills regarding giving and receiving constructive criticism. Please come and share what you know that works, what doesn't work, and brainstorm ways to handle a variety of situations.
Progressing the Cooperative Movement
Got Schwag?* Branding and Visuals for Worker Co-ops — William Ramirez, Ivy Climacosa : Does your co-op know how to schwag? Ok, we're really talking about all the promotional materials that your co-op puts out to the world. We'll talk about how to develop a consistent brand and visual "identity" for all your marketing and outreach materials, from logos and websites to ...well... your schwag. [*Definition: merchandise.]
Continuing the Conversation: Advancing the Development of Worker Co-ops — Tim Huet and panel
Fostering Anti-Oppression Analysis within a Workplace — Daniel Khalid Horton, Melissa Perry, and Kahadish Wa'badi: The purpose of this workshop is to provide inspiration and tools to those cooperators interested in creating change to address privilege, power, and oppression within their co-op. While this won't be an anti-oppression training, it is intended to lend the experience of cooperators who have, through trial and error, started learning how to effectively do this work within a workplace. We'll address the scope of the work that we do and our general approach as far as tone, being in a place of learning, and some specifics about what has and hasn't worked for us.
Making Co-ops Cool Again — Ava Churchill, Yoni Landau, Jake McCollum: As the leadership of many green organizations is turning "grey", the cooperative movement must learn to successfully transfer cooperative tools to the next generation. In this presentation we'll follow the "inspire and conquer" model that CoFED has used to create a cooperative groundswell on college campuses across the country. We'll share the methods we've used to educate young business leaders in cooperative principles, creating an emerging corporate culture that values sustainability and transparency in our economy. We'll also shed some light on what social media can (and can't) do for you with a crash course in Internet media campaigns and other strategies to get your brand into the consciousness of the next generation of co-op customers. CoFED founder, Yoni Landau, will explain how he used the popularity of "foodie culture" as a vehicle to promote cooperative awareness among youth. He will then lead an open discussion on other strategies that can be used to get co-ops into the consciousness of the next generation of activists and consumers.
Urban Co-op Development Initiative — Rae Levine: Around the country there is an upsurge of interest in creating new cooperatives. While there are resources available to help start co-ops in rural areas, groups working to start co-ops in urban areas need support. The Urban Circle of Cooperation Works!, a national organization of cooperative development centers and practitioners, has launched a campaign to gain passage of congressional legislation to support urban co-op development with resources for technical assistance and a revolving loan fund. The legislation, which is expected to be introduced this summer, will establish an urban program similar to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Cooperative Development Grant program that provides $11 million per year for rural co-op development. The session will provide an overview of the legislation, the campaign to enact it, and resources for attendees to take action. In addition to presenting key information, the session will include a facilitated conversation on what this proposed legislation means for worker co-ops in the West and an appeal for help with the campaign. Resources will be provided to help attendees bring the information and actions back to their co-ops and communities. Topics will include: Context, impetus for, and intent of this legislative initiative, what's in the bill and how implementation might work, where it is in the legislative process now and next steps to gain passage, who supports it and where more support is needed, what does this legislation mean for worker co-ops in the West, taking action to gain passage of the bill, and any potential impacts/implications/benefits/concerns.
Evaluating Cooperative Principles &Values — Stephanie Neely: In this vision based workshop, we will build a system to revisit our cooperative principles &values. We will go over various means of evaluation to create a starting point for revisiting the seven principles. Through the formation of this evaluation system, we will learn some of the tools needed for reviewing your current mission statements.
Potholes on the Road to Consensus — Tree Bressen: Has your group been using consensus with less than stellar results? Have you been noticing a gap between consensus theory and your actual experience? Come to this session with your process questions in hand. After a brief intro to some of the main points, the rest of the time will be yours for Q&A with an experienced facilitator.
California's Proposed Worker Co-op Statute — Tim Huet and Mike Leung will share information about a new proposed corporate statute for worker cooperatives that recognizes the unique aspects of the worker cooperative model.
Songs of Collaboration — Dav'id Rath: Breitenbush member shares a lively session involving dance, drumming, and stories in the Sanctuary building. A similar program: "Sing, Drum, Pray" is presented as part of Saturday nights as part of their well-being program.
Refining Our Practices & Increasing Our Skills
Gender, Power &Privilege — Dan Thomases: The society we live in is sexist. It is not surprising that sexism shows up in cooperative workplaces despite their attempts to create democratic environments. This workshop aims to hold a safe space where folks will feel comfortable sharing their experiences of gender dynamics and inequality. In this open conversation we will brainstorm issues and discuss them in an attempt to develop practices to promote gender balanced workplaces. Format: Facilitated Discussion.
The Worker Cooperative Capital Structure — Mike Leung: This talk will present an analysis of the worker cooperative capital structure and show how common misperceptions are resulting in an artificially low rate of startup formation. The current model will be shown to create unpredictable liabilities, cause capital problems for members for asset intensive worker cooperatives, and create financial penalties for the founding members. Various modifications will be proposed to alleviate each of these issues.
Meetings that Don't Suck — Eris Weaver: Are your meetings poorly attended, boring, nonproductive? Learn how to create productive meetings that people actually want to come to! A modest amount of time and attention devoted to meeting planning and good facilitation pays back with increased efficiency, a decrease in conflict, better decision-making, and greater group cohesion. We will not only discuss but practice techniques for agenda planning, meeting facilitation, and dealing with "difficult" people. Bring your examples of real-life challenges and go home with real tools you can use! Format: Lecture with Discussion
Quick &Dirty Strategic Planning — Eris Weaver: A good strategic plan is like a good roadmap; it helps you get where you want to go. Of course, you first have to decide on your destination in order to know whether you've arrived or not! A strategic plan doesn't have to be a huge document that takes months to create — it's better to have a one page plan that is a living document, consulted and amended regularly as a guide for daily decisions. This workshop will provide a template for quick &dirty strategic planning that will help your coop get results quickly! Format: Lecture with Discussion
The Co-op Index &Co-op Functionality/Refining Our Practices — Melissa Hoover: This workshop introduces two powerful new tools to assess your coop's strengths and weaknesses, and create systems that help you function better as a group, as a business, as a cooperative. The Coop Index is an open source tool developed by St. Mary's University in Canada. It asks your members a set of questions then analyzes those answers in comparison to a pool of data from other cooperatives. This workshop will show you how you can use and interpret the Coop Index to see how your cooperative is doing in a variety of areas like worker happiness and satisfaction, accountability and sustainable practices. Then we will demonstrate some systems for strengthening areas identified as needing more attention. The numbers are a starting point, but this workshop is really about how to analyze what you need and set up robust systems of accountability that work for everyone.
Truth or Consequences — Eris Weaver: Coops &other collaborative groups spend a great deal of time carefully crafting agreements to govern our enterprises, yet we rarely, if ever, build consequences or accountability into these policies. Teachers, parents, and animal trainers know the power of appropriately applied reinforcement (positive or negative), but we shy away from consciously using such reinforcement in our communities. We don't want to "play cop"; we want everyone to just follow the agreements because they want to. With no official consequences, however, unofficial consequences arise: resentment, avoidance, and a downward spiral of "well-if-he's-not-doing-it-I-won't-either." Come join this interactive conversation about what does and doesn't work! Format: Lecture with Discussion
Tree Bressenis a skilled group facilitator serving a wide variety of organizations. Her gifts include elegant process design, holding space for tough conversations, and using good process to achieve excellent product. Her original training comes from the “graduate school of communal living,” working with groups using full consensus decision-making. She takes pride in being an eclectic practitioner, with the flexibility to respond to what your group needs in the moment. Practicing on a gift economy basis since 2004, Tree helps organizations put their ideals into action.
Ava Churchill graduated from UC Davis with a B.A. in World Trade and Latin American Studies in 2009. She has traveled extensively in Latin America and has a comprehensive view of development issues in a global context. Ava spent her college years living in the Tri Co-ops at UC Davis, where she was trained in the consensus decision-making process and headed up multiple outreach projects to preserve and recruit for her community. She hopes to use the skills she acquired as an intern at the California Center for Cooperative Development to develop worker-cooperatives in her community.
Tree Bressen is a skilled group facilitator serving a wide variety of organizations. Her gifts include elegant process design, holding space for tough conversations, and using good process to achieve excellent product. Her original training comes from the “graduate school of communal living,” working with groups using full consensus decision-making. She takes pride in being an eclectic practitioner, with the flexibility to respond to what your group needs in the moment. Practicing on a gift economy basis since 2004, Tree helps organizations put their ideals into action.
E. Kim Coontz is the Executive Director of the California Center for Cooperative Development and provides staff support for the Western Worker Co-op Conference. She has been working with cooperative enterprises for over 20 years. She has assisted in the start-up of more than 20 cooperatives, authored and co-authored more than 10 publications about cooperatives (including Steps to Starting a Worker Co-op) and written numerous articles. Prior to her employment with CCCD, Kim was Executive Director of Yolo Mutual Housing Association, a nonprofit developer of cooperatively-governed affordable housing in Davis, CA. She also spent 14 years working for the Center for Cooperatives at the University of California at Davis (prior to its closure in 2004).
Gordon Edgar loves cheese and worker-owned co-ops, and has been combining both of these infatuations as the main cheese buyer for Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco since 1994. Rainbow is San Francisco's biggest independent grocery store and the country's largest retail worker co-op. Edgar served on the Western Worker Co-op Conference Planning Committee for a number of years, Rainbow's Board of Directors for five years and currently is a member of Rainbow's Co-op Committee, often representing and explaining Rainbow to the co-op curious. Edgar has been a panelist speaking at numerous cheese events over the last decade, served as an aesthetic judge at national cheese competitions, and helped develop the educational programming at the annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the California Artisan Cheese Guild. His political cheese memoir, Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge was published in 2010. Edgar's writing has been published by HipMama.com, Clamor Magazine, The Anderson Valley Advertiser, MaximumRocknRoll and Zine World. He has also had a blog since 2002 which now resides at www.gordonzola.net.
Rosalinda Guillén is the executive director of De Comunidad a Comunidad (Community to Community Development), a women-led grassroots organization that works on practical solutions to social injustice through self-organizing by dis-empowered communities to build their own institutions to meet their own self-identified needs. She is working to create a culturally appropriate cooperative development center in order to support local farmworkers in their efforts to establish worker cooperatives. She will share stories of success in forming farmer cooperatives in Whatcom county, WA and Eugene, OR, as well as the issues involved with organizing in multi-ethnic groups in the current farmer - farmworker paradigm. Coming from Mexico as a youth, and raised as a farmworker on a farm in WA, she shares the unique perspective of her personal journey.
Melissa Hoover has worked in cooperatives and collectives nearly all her working life. She uses her experience to support the development of worker cooperatives in many ways. Melissa is Executive Director of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, a developer/member of the Arizmendi Development and Support Cooperative, and a contractor providing financial services to Bay Area worker cooperatives. Melissa leads the organization of the bi-annual conference of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and presents at conferences throughout the country on various issues related to worker cooperatives and cooperative finance.
Daniel Khalid Horton has a lifelong commitment to social justice and anti-oppression work in various forms. Daniel has been on the Anti-Oppression Working Group at People's Food Co-op (Portland, OR) sine 2008. He sees great opportunity and necessity in this work being well integrated into the co-op movement.
Tim Huet is one of three founders of the Association of Arizmendi Cooperatives, an enterprise dedicated to the development of successful worker cooperatives. As part of the Association's Development & Support Cooperative, Tim participates in writing business plans, raising start-up capital, negotiating leases, and training workers in democratic business management and also serves as in-house legal counsel. Tim has also served as a trainer and curriculum development advisory board member for CooperationWorks! , has been a featured speaker at cooperative conferences throughout the United States, in Canada (at conventions of the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation), and at the annual meeting of CICOPA, the international federation of worker cooperatives. Tim completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and his law degree from UC Hastings College in San Francisco.
Sarah Kennedy began working at Rainbow Grocery in 2006. Before that she worked at the worker owned co-op Good Vibrations for 10 years. She is a trained mediator and served on the Good Vibrations Conflict Resolution Team and Facilitation Team for many years, and is currently on Rainbow's Conflict Resolution Team. Sarah was on the first WWCC Board of Directors and served again on the Board in 2003. She lives at Project Artaud (www.projectartaud.org), an artist's live/work cooperative of 93 people and six theater/performance spaces where enjoys being secretary to the Board.
Yonatan Landau is the co-founder and director of the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFed), a network, training program and research institute that helps students create sustainable food cooperatives on their campuses. After launching a successful campaign to prevent the first fast food chain from opening at UC Berkeley, he helped raise over $120,000 for a cooperative alternative, the Berkeley Student Food Collective. He loves to cook vegetables in his North Oakland kitchen and enjoys improv theater, singing and smiling.
Mike Leung is the lead organizer for the proposed Worker Cooperative Federal Credit Union (unchartered), a collaboration between the US Federation of Worker Cooperative, Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives, and North American Students of Cooperation. He also started the Abolish Human Rentals website (AbolishHumanRentals.org) which argues against the standard employment relationship on inalienable rights grounds.
Rae Levine was a member of Red Star Cheese Collective, part of the vibrant network of co-ops and worker collectives in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1970s, and co-founded a worker-run interstate trucking company in California's Central Valley. With over twenty years of experience as an organization development consultant/facilitator, she is currently studying to serve as a cooperative developer. She volunteers with the SLICE Roundtable working to grow the co-op economy in Seattle and the Urban Circle of Cooperation Works! to identify resources for urban cooperative development.
Leslie Leyba, WWCC board member, is a worker/owner at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, CA where she wears many hats. Formerly she has been a staff member and Membership Director of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and has assisted in organizing two national worker co-op conferences. She was a founding Board member of the Looking Glass Collective, the organized workers who successfully converted the Lusty Lady Theater to a worker—owned cooperative. She lives in Oakland, CA and loves cats. This will be her fourth Western Worker Cooperative Conference.
Jake McCollum (Southern California Regional Director) is a Linguistics and Middle Eastern Studies major in Santa Barbara, California. He has acted as a coordinator for the Santa Barbara Student Housing Cooperative, helped to organize events featuring names like the Myth Busters and is a founding member of the UCSB Student Food Collective. He is constantly inspired by cooperatives and their unique power to transform poverty and need into equity and hope. In his spare time he likes vigorous exercise, reading, cooking and getting to know you better.
Stephanie Neely is the Member Coordinator & Conference Planner at the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. She was a worker-owner at Other Avenues for 3 years, a bookkeeper for the student-run book store coop on her college campus and is currently an apprentice with Democracy at Work Network (DAWN). Currently residing in Portland, she also assists Alberta Co-op Grocery, People's Food Coop and the Make House with board administration.
Melissa Perry has been thinking about inequality since she realized that life was not fair at 4 years old. She is passionate and committed to working on ending oppression. Examining her own privilege has been an essential part of this work. She has been on the Diversity and Anti-Oppression Working Group at People's Food Co-op for five years.
William Ramirez is a Graphic Designer with Design Action Collective. A transplant from the Dominican Republic, William holds a Graphic Design and Illustration degree from the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo. Previously, William worked as a graphic designer for over ten years. He was a founder of the award winning independent arts & culture magazine, La Vaina, as well as having worked for commercial companies, non-profit organizations, and independent artists.
Dan Thomases is a co-founder and worker-owner at Box Dog Bikes, in San Francisco, and is on the planning board of this year's Western Worker Co-op Conference. Dan helped found the Peer Resource Group for NoBAWC (the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives) and was its active host for a few years. He has also organized and spoken on a few local panels discussing worker cooperatives in the context of his own experience at Box Dog Bikes. Dan hopes this will be the best WWCC yet!
Eris Weaver is a facilitator, consultant, trainer, and public speaker known for her clarity, forthrightness, and humor. She is deeply committed to the use of consensus and other cooperative decision-making processes to improve life within our communities and the world at large. Her most significant training ground for her work as a facilitator & communications consultant has been eleven years with FrogSong, a cohousing community in Cotati. She became a facilitator because she has little patience for poorly run meetings — given how much of our work and community living time is spent in meetings, it is important that we make the best use of our precious time. A modest amount of time and attention devoted to meeting planning and good facilitation pays back with increased efficiency, a decrease in conflict, better decision-making, and greater group cohesiveness. She is a Fellow of the Leadership Institute for Ecology & the Economy and a member of the International Association of Facilitators and the International Forum of Visual Practitioners.
Carmen White has worked at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in the refrigerated department since 2006. She is currently serving on the Conflict Resolution Team for Rainbow and is a trained mediator. This year, Carmen is celebrating Fancyland's 10 year anniversary! Fancyland is a queer-identified collective DIY land in Northern California. It is set on 12 acres of hilly terrain in the mixed fir and oak woods of Humboldt County. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for Fancyland. Her other passions include music, cheese, conversation and candlelight.