DiscoTech coming up in May


On May 1st 2016, the MIT Co-Design Studio team, Research Action Design, Intelligent Mischief, and the Detroit Community Technology Project are calling on YOU to attend (and/or organize!) a Co-op DiscoTech near you. A Co-op DiscoTech (shorthand for a Cooperative Economy Discovering Technology fair) is an event designed for people of all backgrounds and skill levels to learn about how technology can be used to support the growth of the cooperative economy – worker-owned cooperatives, consumer cooperatives, housing cooperatives, and more!

Cool! Tell me more about DiscoTechs.

Our DiscoTechs follow the model developed by the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition:

DiscoTech is a community-based, community-organized, multimedia workshop and fair. At a DiscoTech, participants learn more about the impacts and possibilities of technology, and take part in fun, interactive and media-based workshops. Discotech workshops are designed to demystify technology and create a space where we can inform and engage our community […] A Discotech utilizes the unique skills and expertise within each community, and morphs to adapt to changing needs. [Source: “How To Discotech” Zine, by the DDJC.]

The Co-op DiscoTechs are free, open, multi-site events. This page is for sharing information about these events, as well as for resources to help you organize your own DiscoTech!

I think I understand “DiscoTech,” but what is the “Co-op” about?

At the Co-op DiscoTechs, we’ll focus on creating welcoming spaces where a wide range of people (not just techies!) will feel welcome sharing and learning about each other’s experiences with cooperatives: worker-owned co-ops, consumer co-ops, housing co-ops, hybrid cooperatives, co-op support organizations … pretty much anything that has to do with the cooperative economy! We’re also inviting cooperative organizations, technologists, developers, and designers to come to the DiscoTech to learn, teach, sprint, hack, meet up, explore projects, and build community together.

We’ll dive in deep to understand worker cooperative tools, systems, and histories, through speakers, skillshares, workshops, and activities open to all. We’ll also get hands-on with tools and approaches that can strengthen worker, consumer, housing, and hybrid cooperatives. We’ll link existing co-ops, technologists, designers, and community organizers to strengthen our strategies and tools for a cooperative future!

Sounds awesome! How can I participate?

Come to a Co-op DiscoTech near you on May 1st, or organize your own! We’ll be happy to share our approach, link to your event, and otherwise support you.

Where will these Co-op DiscoTechs be happening?

All over the place! So far (as of early February) we have interest from organizers in the following locations:

Cambridge, MA (@MIT Media Lab)
Boston, MA (Location TBC)
Berlin (TBC)
Philly (TBC)
Detroit (TBC)
More soon!
How to organize your own Co-op DiscoTech:

For general background on DiscoTechs, check out this DiscoTech Zine, by the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition: http://detroitprojectarchive.com/client/DDJC_amc2012.pdf.zip

For more Co-op DiscoTech organizing resources, check out this folder: http://bit.ly/coop-discotechs-resources.

Please get in touch by emailing Katie: klarthur@mit.edu

Platform Cooperatives & You: When does freedom call for more than worker-owned?

Long-established concepts of multi-stakeholder, hybrid, or solidarity cooperatives are getting new urgency and vitality from the Platform Cooperativism movement which calls for an Internet of Ownership.  It is a vision for online platforms that share democratic ownership and governance with their stakeholders, especially those who contribute their labor and personal data.  If millions of people rely on a social network for communication than the relatively small number of people building the platform.

How does Platform Cooperativism affect you and your coop or your plans to build a coop? What other movements does it intersect with?

Join us for a round table discussion!

Details — http://www.meetup.com/agaric/events/228640449/

Two swaps are coming up:

1. Sat 02/27 3P-6P JP Time Exchange has a swap open to the public.

The Urbano Project 29 Germania St, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 02130

Note-they DON’T want clothes and DO want RSVPs.

See Facebook for more details and to RSVP

2. Sat 03/05 – Folks at Franklin Street Coop are also having a clothing and book swap in the afternoon. We are hoping to have variety as well as quantity, so please come and please bring books and/or clothing!

Canopy Social Impact Event Series kickoff!

UPDATE: Somerville Cable Access TV has a recap of the event available HERE, if you missed any of the discussion or want to review some of the Q&A. Thank you to our premiere media sponsor SCATV for capturing this and future Social Impact Series.
Join us for the Canopy Social Impact Event Series kickoff!
Where: Cohen Auditorium, Tufts University
40 Talbot Avenue
Somerville, MA 02144When: Thursday, January 28, 2016 from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM (EST)
Every month, Canopy will be hosting a vibrant discussion that focuses on the most pressing local, national and global issues facing us today. By bringing together local, national and internationally-renowned experts who are working towards solutions to the same problems, in distinctly different realms–such as government, academia and the tech sector–we can galvanize their efforts and amplify their positive impact. We also believe that by sparking these untapped collaborations and this cross-pollination of ideas, we can collectively tackle our most complex challenges more efficiently and more effectively.

Creating diverse panels that are open to the public will also serve as a catalyst for reaching equally diverse audiences. Canopy’s outreach efforts extend into the public schools, churches, technology companies, nonprofits, startups, coffee shops, college campuses and community centers–and are further enhanced by taking our message directly to the streets in grassroots fashion.

What also makes Canopy gatherings different is our event format. Our keynote speakers illuminate the framework for the moderated panel discussion that follows. What is also unique is the addition of a “Canopy Featured Nonprofit” at every event. At the end of the moderated panel discussion, we will introduce our featured nonprofit, who is hitting the respective challenge head on. Attendees are then encouraged to visit that nonprofit’s information table to sign petitions and volunteer forms, receive informative pamphlets and purchase merchandise.

The Canopy Social Impact Event Series model strives to:
(1) Connect people and cross-pollinate ideas
(2) Educate attendees and panelists

(3) Provide opportunities to get involved by supporting a local nonprofit either financially or through direct involvement.

So in three words, the objective of the Canopy Social Impact Event series is to:
Cross-pollinate. Educate. Activate. 

All funds raised through individual event donations are split 50/50 with the Canopy Featured Nonprofit. This is intended to empower their work and to keep the event series sustainable.
We encourage you to make a contribution of any size to help us continue this mission.


This month’s Canopy Social Impact Series event theme is: 

The Role of Innovation in International Peace and Security

This month’s Canopy Featured Nonprofit is:

Massachusetts Peace Action


Keynote Speaker

Professor Noam Chomsky – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


John Grebe, News Host and Producer at WZBC 90.3 FM Boston
John Grebe has served as host and producer of the weekly news interview program “Sounds of Dissent” on WZBC 90.3 FM in Boston since 1998. Prior to this, John had directed technical operations at WMFO-FM, where he also produced the “In Public” news program since 1992. Alongside 24 years of weekly news radio, John has also been a systems administrator and consultant on computers and networks.


Panelist 1 – Kade Crockford, Director, Technology for Liberty Program, American Civil Liberities Union of Massachusetts (ACLU) where she serves as the Director of the Technology for Liberty Program of the ACLU of Massachusetts. Kade works to protect and expand the First and Fouth Amendment rights and civil liberties in the digital 21st century focusing on how systems of surveillance and control impact not just for the society in general but their primary targets – people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and dissidents. Find Kade’s blog, Privacy Matter, at privacysos.org/blog, the ACLU’s dedicated privacy anbd technology website.

Panelist 2 Fox Harrell, Associate Professor, MIT CSAIL, is a researcher exploring the relationship between imaginative cognition and computation. His research involves developing new forms of computational narrative, gaming, social media, and related digital media based in computer science, cognitive science, and digital media arts. The National Science Foundation has recognized Harrell with an NSF CAREER Award for his project “Computing for Advanced Identity Representation.”

Panelist 3Paul Heroux, Massachusetts State Representative, serves on the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. Paul is a prolific writer and has published over 300 public policy columns and is a frequent guest on Russia Today International discussing Iran and the greater Middle East. Some of the topics he has written on for the Huffington Post include crime policy, mental illness, and the Middle East. Paul’s experience prior to becoming an elected official includes working in prison and jail administration, and working in the Middle East. Paul has a Master’s in International Relations from the London School of Economics, a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard School of Government, a Master’s in Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Neuroscience from the University of Southern California.

Panelist 4Nandini (Dini) Merz, Program Director at the Proteus Fund where she guides the work of the Columbe Foundation. Dini recommends and evaluates Foundation strategies based on it’s vision an goals, identifies grants and activities to advance these strategies, designs governance structures to facilitate the work of the foundation. facilitates grant review meetings and represents the foundation in the progressive community. Dini also serves on the Steering Committee of the Peace and ecurity Funders Group. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from The National Law Center, George Washington University in 1993, and graduated cum laude in international relations from Cornell University.



5:30 – Doors open
6:00 – An overview of the Canopy mission & community services provided
6:05 – Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone delivers welcoming remarks
6:10 – Noam Chomsky’s keynote talk begins
6:40 – Chomsky Q&A begins
7:00 – Brief intermission
7:15 – Panel discussion begins
8:15 – Panel Q&A begins
8:30 – Massachusetts Peace Action is introduced and a 30-minute networking session begins
9:00 – Our first Canopy Social Impact Series event concludes



Demystifying the Law – Equal Exchange Cafe on Dec. 2nd 2015

Hi folks – there will be an event happening at the Equal Exchange Cafe on Dec. 2nd
around co-op law, so if you are interested, or know of someone who might
be, please pass this along:

Event Details

Are you a worker cooperative who could use some help demystifying the law?

Are you a technical assistance provider who would like to connect with
worker cooperatives and learn more about the law yourself?

If so, please join us on Wednesday, December 2nd at 6:30 p.m. to meet
lawyers, law students, and other technical assistance providers who are
working together to create and share valuable resources and information for
worker cooperatives in Massachusetts.

This event will also serve as the official release party for a publication
created by students of Harvard Law School’s Community Enterprise Project of
the Transactional Law Clinics (CEP). In collaboration with Lydia
Edwards, J.D. LLM, Attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services and
Sustainable Economies Law Center Fellow, and Stacey Cordeiro, founder of
the Boston Center for Community Ownership, this document aims to demystify
the intricacies of the law as they relate to worker cooperatives.

Join us over Equal Exchange coffee and tea to learn more about the ways in
which lawyers and other technical assistance providers can assist your
business, as well as to teach us about ways in which we can better address
your cooperative’s needs.

Hope to see you there!

Location: Equal Exchange Cafe, 226 Causeway St., Boston, MA 02114

(accessible from North Station, Green or Orange Line)

*Presentation to begin at 7 p.m.*

USFWC Mix and Mingle!

Hi WORC’N folks!

The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives is having our annual Board retreat this weekend, here in Boston, and we’d love to see you while we’re in town!

We’re going to mix and mingle, low-key informal style, at Sacco’s Bowl Haven on SATURDAY NOV. 21, starting around 7:30pm.
(45 Day Street, Somerville MA)
If you’re around, please drop by, connect with USFWC board and staff from around the country, talk co-op shop, and maybe even bowl a bit 🙂

We hope to see some old friends and meet new ones!
~ Amy, Esteban and the USFWC Board

Platform Cooperativism – What is it?

Let’s connect with people that are building cooperative platforms.  On Friday November 6th we will meet at the Industry Lab in Cambridge from 6:30-8pm. Please RSVP HERE

On November 13 and 14, Agaric members will be going to the New School in New York City, where they are hosting a coming-out party for the cooperative Internet, built of platforms owned and governed by the people who rely on them. The program will include discussion sessions, screenings, monologues, legal hacks, workshops, and dialogues, as well as a showcase of projects, both conceptual and actual. We’ll learn from coders and worker cooperatives, scholars and designers. Together, we’ll put their lessons to work as we work toward usable apps and structural economic change. This is your chance to get on the ground floor of the next Internet, and to help make it a reality.

http://platformcoop.net Registration is free, and tickets are still available.

It looks to be a great opportunity to connect with some potential allies, and come upon some well-thought-out ideas. Please, take a look at the participants list and see if there is anyone interesting you would like to connect with:


There are some wild projects and goings-on: this is not your average conference! If you are going, we could discuss how we might work together to cover more ground at the conference. If you cannot attend, but would like us to bring along certain ideas, or raise certain questions, we’ll do our best to make those connections.

Platform Cooperativism is convened by Trebor Scholz (The New School) and Nathan Schneider (University of Colorado Boulder).

Anyone interested in carpooling  – contact us.

Further reading:

By Trebor Scholz:
Platform “Cooperativism vs. the Sharing Economy” (December 5, 2014)  http://tinyurl.com/oj8rna2
”Think Outside the Boss,” Public Seminar (April 5, 2015) http://www.publicseminar.org/2015/04/think-outside-the-boss/#.VUoVZEuhIds

By Nathan Schneider
“Owning Is the New Sharing,” Shareable (December 21, 2014) http://www.shareable.net/blog/owning-is-the-new-sharing

We have setup a way for you to join our dialog, even if you cannot attend the event.  Add to the list of projects and speakers you would like to see and share notes on, before, during or after the conference :


Boston Co-op Social

When: October 16th  from  6PM – 8PM

Where: Doyle’s Cafe 3484 Washington Street, Jamaica Plain, MA

Boston Cooperative Business Association invites you for an evening of networking, socializing, and cooperation!

This is a chance for co-op staff, board directors, members, and friends to gather for food, drinks, and good conversations.

Building a cooperative movement includes hard work and organizing, but it also needs connections, conversation, & celebrations. So come to Doyle’s and meet someone new, learn about a co-op you didn’t know existed, celebrate the expanding co-op sector in Boston and have a good time!

Please RSVP

Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy – Summer of 2015

The topic of the conference was “Creating Impact“.  There were over 300 attendees from many different cooperatives around the United States. It was great to see some of you there!!!! The conference was organized by the Center for Workplace Democracy and The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC).

USFWC - United States Federstion of Worker CooperativesThe program, the schedule, the presenters and sessions were outstanding. The event had a wonderful flow that allowed for networking and conversations to blossom in hallways as well as in the designated networking spaces and times. These efforts included a member drive and outreach for the conference. Discount tickets and scholarships were available to those who needed them, in solidarity with cooperation in this economic war. Convening this many members of the cooperative movement that are scattered about the United states is not an easy task to coordinate. Hats off to Amy Johnson and Esteban Kelly of the USFWC, they did an outstanding job in getting members to the convention and making sure that a great time and good information and plenty of locally sourced healthful food was offered to all.  The event was catered for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a wonderful hall that was easily accessible and roomy enough for people to circulate around and have multiple conversations. Attendees were mostly members of the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) and some belong to coops, or work in coop friendly companies. Some people were there learning how to become a member of a worker cooperative, or start one, all were engaged in lively discussions. The friendly atmosphere was felt by newcomers as they were engaged in deep conversations about their well being, their work, their lives and their happiness in the present and future. A first time attendee was overcome and told of his life changing moment when seeing so many people come together with the skills, the knowledge and the determination to make a better world for all.

Here is a link to a blog that covers news and items of interest in the world of cooperatives. This particular link leads to one blog about conference that was held in Worcester in July 2015 – CoopMatters.com