When you hear the phrase “co-op movement,” what do you think of? Switching from one co-op to another? The slow progress of a resolution through the decision-making process?
In fact, the term refers to the larger constellation of cooperatives, of which the ICC is just one part. These include
--other student housing co-ops at schools throughout the world;
--community-based housing co-ops (great places to live once you graduate!);
--consumer co-ops, like the People’s Food Co-op in Kerrytown, whose members are the people who shop there;
--worker co-ops, which are owned and run by their employees;
--electrical co-ops, which are instrumental in providing affordable energy, particularly in rural areas;
--and much, much more! They are brought together by the general beliefs that people can work together to run the institutions they’re involved in, without being at the whim of a landlord, boss, or big business.
This weekend, representatives from the movement throughout the US and Canada will be on campus for the NASCO Institute. NASCO, the North American Students of Cooperation, is one of the key cooperative organizations in the US. The people attending will have a wide range of backgrounds and a wealth of experience.
You can draw on this expertise! If you feel like your meetings are pointless, your facilitation is flat, or your work system isn’t getting the work done, the folks coming to town this weekend have probably faced similar challenges. It’s still possible to register for the conference at http://www.nasco.coop/institute, where there will be workshops on everything from maintenance to meetings to activism. Conference-goers will also be staying in nearly every co-op in the ICC, so look for them Friday and Saturday nights! They’ll be pumped about co-ops, and would probably love to talk.
This weekend, Ann Arbor will be ground zero for the co-op movement. Take advatage of it!