CO-OP E-News

Cooperative Impact Conference

With that inspiring statement, the annual Cooperative Impact Conference sponsored by the National Cooperative Business Association was off and running October 2-4, 2019 in Washington, DC.

The conference is timed each year to celebrate October as National Co-op Month. Workshops featured a wide variety of topics, including leadership training for boards of directors, lessons from America’s top 100 co-ops, innovations in scaling cooperative development, best practices for member retention and attracting younger members, building a local co-op ecosystem, creating positive growth for women in the co-op community, co-ops as social enterprises, the essential role of diversity, equity, and inclusion in co-op development, best practices for using social media in marketing, and the growth of childcare co-ops and their impact on the industry.

The keynote speaker on the morning of day 1 was Felicia Wong, president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, who presented on “The Next Economy: Will Broader, Inclusive Ownership Go Mainstream?” Ms. Wong addressed this question by looking at four general areas of promise: taxing capital; corporate governance opportunities; the recent Business Roundtable pronouncement on corporate responsibility to customers, communities, vendors, and staff as well as shareholders; and addressing the racialized economy. She pointed out the special nature of the cooperative business model in promoting the well-being of stakeholders, performing better than more traditional business models over business cycles, putting people and values first, and making voice and participation really matter. Ms. Wong spoke of the need for affirmative inclusion, arguing that neutral laws do not make up for centuries of exclusion of certain groups.

The conference attracted hundreds of cooperative champions.

Happy Co-op Month!
Article by Jennifer Luitjens Bahr,  Director of Education Rocky Mountain Farmers Union

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Cooperative Leadership Camp has combined innovation and tradition in cooperative education, leadership development, and team-building at the YMCA of the Rockies near Estes Park, Colorado.

WHY Co-ops? Co-op values were important to those who founded
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union in 1907. Through the formation of cooperatives, they weathered the Great Depression and other tough times that were yet to come. Farmers Union believes co-ops are important drivers in our economy and everyday lives.

Campers at each session create their own co-op
store and elect a board of directors to run the co-op. Member campers vote on co-op issues and receive a dividend at the end of the camp session, as well as choosing a charity or camp project to receive a contribution from the co-op’s profits.

Games and activities have a cooperative focus, developing teamwork along with building self-esteem and leadership skills.



The American diet has room for all sorts of variety, from products of big farms to those of small farms, from locally produced to transported over thousands of miles.

Take wheat, for example. There are a few types of high-yield wheat planted on a large scale, and then there is heritage wheat, unique to its locale with a flavor and nutritional value all its own.

Aficionados of heritage wheat, and other heritage grains such as barley, corn, rye, and quinoa, have formed the Colorado Grain Chain, a not-for-profit member-based organization comprised of whole, sustainable, ancient, and heritage grain Colorado businesses, and their customers and allies. Colorado Grain Chain members embrace regenerative farming techniques, thorough transparent food safety and traceability methods, and artisanship to develop healthy, identity-preserved products.

And these folks aren’t kidding when they include “Chain” in their organization’s name: Members include bakers, brewers, chefs, distillers, farmers, millers, and their consumers – a true state-wide agriculture value chain, from seed to stomach.

Come January 17-19, 2020, the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs will host its fifth annual Grain School, bringing Colorado Grain Chain businesspeople and their customers and allies together with educators, students, health professionals, scientists, and community leaders to celebrate farming, baking, cooking, fermenting, and milling heritage grains. View the Grain School's DRAFT 2020 Agenda Here.

The Grain School’s tentative agenda is packed with learning and sharing opportunities.

More about the Grain Chain

Article by Caroline Savery, Cooperative Busines Developer

On Saturday, September 21, the Center for Community Wealth Building completed its first-ever “Train the Trainers” program, using the new Urban Co-ops Entrepreneurship Curriculum developed last year by Caroline Savery through the RMFU Cooperative Development Center. The program was designed to equip up to 20 leaders with the knowledge and tools to become community educators about the cooperative business model in their communities.

Through conscientious outreach within the community wealth building network, dozens of community organizers and social leaders from all around Denver (and as far as Colorado Springs) were recruited for the program. The 15 program graduates are predominantly women, people of color, and bilingual individuals, who all work or volunteer actively in their communities. Participants expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to increase their communities’ awareness and knowledge of cooperative business as one path to sustainable economic empowerment. The Train the Trainers was held over three weekend days in a two week period, eight hours per day. Each day consisted of two classes and two feedback sessions, plus an orientation session that included discussion of cooperative pedagogy, cooperative development, and its intersection with social equity and liberation movements.

The program also provided valuable feedback on the content and design of each of the six courses in the curriculum. Participants discussed, shared and reported on their ideas for how to improve and “change-up” the workshops, with an emphasis on developing culturally appropriate adaptations. Their feedback will be worked into a new and improved version of the curriculum as well as enhanced resources for facilitators in community, and a new structure for future “Train the Trainers” programs.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Cooperative Development Center’s support included funding for the materials and supplies costs related to the training. 

RMFU is exploring offering a rural “train the trainers” program using this interactive, accessible curriculum. If you are a member of our rural communities and are interested in receiving training in the curricula, please contact Bill Stevenson, Director of RMFU Cooperative Development Center
More co-op and co-op related resources. 
LiveWell's Health Summit
Greenhorms Guidebooks
How Cooperatives Work
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