For a full list of workshops and presenter bios, scholarship applications and registration information, visit our website (http://westernworkers.blogspot.com/) We also invite you to“like” us on Facebook to stay connected with other cooperators and trade co-op news year-round!
CECOSESOLA: How a small co-op grew big, helped transform a nation, and stayed true to its roots
CECOSESOLA began in 1967 as a small funeral co-op for low-income residents in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. Since then, it has grown into an “integrated organism of cooperatives” with more than fifty integrated co-ops that provide housing, food, and health care to their members, while embracing consensus and influencing national cooperative policies. In 2012, the Olympia Food Co-op sent two staff members to Venezuela to live and work at CECOSESOLA, and then welcomed five CECOSESOLA members to Olympia, WA. to do the same. Come learn about the inspiring story of CECOSESOLA, the worker exchange with OFC, and how the experience has changed OFC’s role in their community.
Presented by Alejandra “Ale” Abreu and Emily Van Kley
Growth: The Benefits and Challenges of Scaling Up
An examination of whether/when growth in size might be beneficial and how to grow such as to maximize benefits while addressing/limiting organizational costs. Discussion will be lead by presentations from Alvarado Street Bakery, Cheese Board/Arizmendi, Olympia Food Cooperative, and Rainbow Grocery.
Inclusive Strategic Planning – On a Budget!
Strategic plans needn’t be dusty documents drummed up by Boards of Directors or high-cost behemoths produced by outside consultants. Done right, a strategic planning process inspires new ideas, questions assumptions, builds consensus, and provides a shared foundation for making difficult decisions (like creating budgets!). In this workshop, we’ll briefly review what a strategic plan is, and what its purpose should be. Then we’ll discuss tools and tactics that you can use to plan a strategic process that is low cost, inclusive, and results in a useful final product. Examples of strategic plans and suggestions for further reading will be provided.
Led by Jayne Rossman
Creating Cooperative Culture at Equal Exchange and Mondragon
Some of the most mature and successful coops profiled in SHIFT CHANGE, the documentary about worker cooperatives, discuss concerns about preserving their cooperative culture. What does it mean to have a strong cooperative culture? Does your coop have one? Do you hope to contribute to a more self-organized, democratic society at large? We will screen brief selections from SHIFT CHANGE to illustrate how two of the featured coops-Mondragon and Equal Exchange-approach cooperative culture. For more about the film and on-line preview, check out these links: http://shiftchange.org/video-clips/, Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/shiftchangemovie), and Twitter: https://twitter.com/Shift_Change). Join us as we define, discuss, and explore this topic.
Led by Melissa Young and Alison Booth Gribas
28 Questions for Coop Founders
Are you starting a new coop or coop conversion? Have you met with a lawyer yet? Wait, because there are at least 28 questions you should ask yourselves first! Many legal & financial professionals are unfamiliar with worker cooperatives. Spend time on these questions before you incorporate to save money and spare yourself headaches.
· Are you worried about taxes?
· Do you want a Board of Directors?
· How will you distribute patronage?
· Will members be employees or contractors?
· Do you want to use the word “cooperative” in your name?
In this discussion-based workshop, we’ll introduce the concept of “choice of entity” and explore some of the decisions founders will have to make.
Led by Alison Booth Gribas
Making Finances Fun Again
Financial matters in coops aren’t usually the first thing people want to talk about, until there’s a crisis. Learn how to implement fun, engaging activities around financial literacy, budgeting, and bookkeeping/accounting. Come prepared to share your own struggles with finances in your coops and develop interactive, empowering ways to make finances fun.
Led by Stephen Switzer
Talking to Each Other When Stuff Comes Up: Direct Communication Practice
Everyone working in the coop sector has the need and the capacity to be able to recognize the needs and feelings of coworkers and customers. Direct communication supports empathy between people and emphasizes connection. We all strive toward the ideals of empowerment, equity and collaboration. However, we aren’t all well-versed in practicing those ideals. Good communication, in all of its myriad forms, is one crucial element to maintaining the integrity of a visionary and idealistic culture where things get done well. When we are able to listen openly, communicate needs and make requests that can be met, we can help build trust in our cooperative environments and create smoother workflow. Perhaps we were not all acculturated in ways where this kind of communication comes naturally, so let’s practice! Practicing direct communication helps prepare us to do it in a skillful and caring way, whether for small issues or large ones. This will be a highly interactive, verbal, practice-based workshop.
Facilitated by Padrice Stewart
And more! Visit our website for the full list.