Many excellent ideas, new connections at the General Assembly

The WORC’N General Assembly and social was a big success. There were over a dozen in attendance and many Boston Area co-ops represented: Boston Collective Delivery, Boston Tech Collective, Community Builders Cooperative, Sheba Green Cleaning Co-op, Quilted, Red Sun Press, as well as two start-ups: a Brazilian women’s green cleaning co-op and a machinists co-op from Lynn. We mingled, ate pizza together, and made some new social and business connections.

The General Assembly was conducted in English and was simultaneously translated into Portuguese. Steering Committee Ben Mauer facilitated the event and gave a report on the last quarter of WORC’N activity, with others filling in detail about the powerful Peer Resource Group which has met monthly since July as well as the Co-op 101.

The Steering Committee presented two goals for the following quarter:

  • A Speakers Bureau to aid the press and local colleges and universities in finding worker cooperators for stories and guest lecturers. Yochai from Boston Tech Collective, Ben from Quilted, Tony Dunn from the fledgling machinists co-op and Eric from Red Sun Press volunteered to be contacts.
  • A formal proposal to the group on A) who our group composed of (worker cooperators only? support organizations?), B) how that group makes decisions (consensus? vote?) and C) how to financially support WORC’N activities in terms of food and simultaneous translation in order to create an inclusive local worker co-op movement (membership? sponsorships?).

We concluded the General Assembly with a brainstorm of WORC’N goals for the next year:

  • Send a group to the Eastern Conference on Workplace Democracy in July
  • Network with community groups
  • Talk with the new mayor of Boston
  • Network with MassChallenge
  • Convene a city-wide symposium on sustainable business and cooperatives
  • Buying club for healthcare (group plans?) – the group NASRO was mentioned
  • Spread the word, continue to raise awareness of cooperatives and the cooperative model
  • Develop more business resources
    • List of experts in the Boston area (accountants, lawyers, support organizations, along with relative costs)
    • A howto for incorporating as a worker co-op in MA (a checklist of sorts – Yochai from Boston Tech Collective has developed a draft of this, and DAWN and TESA were also mentioned)
  • Find ways to help each other financially/create financial solidarity (co-ops doing well helping co-ops not doing so well)
  • A place to share leads with each other, or needs/have list (declare what we have to share, and what we might need)

Quarterly General Assembly & Social Tomorrow May 9, 5:30pm

WORC’N will be having it’s first Quarterly General Assembly & Social tomorrow, May 9, from 5:30pm to 8pm

General Assembly: 5:30pm

Social: around 6:30pm

Location: Community Builders Cooperative, 24 Webster Ave, Somerville MA

Program:

First, we’ll hold a General Assembly, where the Steering Committee will report out on our work, and we’ll discuss ideas and proposals that folks send in advance. If you have a proposal or idea, please send it to Ben Mauer (ben@quilted.coop).

Then we’ll have a good old fashioned food and social hour. You are welcome to come to either or both parts of the evening, and are strongly encouraged to invite other members of your co-op to attend.

See you soon!

Peer Resource Group Meeting on April 11 at 6pm

Time: 6pm.

Location: Boston Collective Delivery’s space. 12 Channel St., Suite 202 Boston. You can get there with a 10-15 minute bus ride and a 4 minute walk. The #4, #7, and Silver line all go near BCD’s office from downtown Boston.

Topic: Sharing some of the challenges we have faced as a worker cooperative in branding, billing, and general operation. We will also be sharing strategies that have worked for us in marketing.

Steering Committee Report and Upcoming April Events

Attached is a report from the WORC’N Steering Committee on our activities of the past couple months. We especially want to highlight two upcoming WORC’N events:

  1. April 11th: Peer Resource Group, 6pm. Location: Boston Collective Delivery’s space. 12 Channel St., Suite 202 Boston. You can get there with a 10-15 minute bus ride and a 4 minute walk. The #4, #7, and Silver line all go near BCD’s office from downtown Boston. Topic: Sharing some of the challenges we have faced as a worker cooperative in branding, billing, and general operation. We will also be sharing strategies that have worked for us in marketing.
  2. April 18th: Worker Co-op 101, 6pm at Make Shift Boston, 549 Columbus Ave, Boston

More info will come soon about both events, but you can read the vision and background in the attached report. The Steering Committee is currently Tim Hall, Ben Mauer, James Bachez, Stacey Cordeiro and Micha Josephy

Download: April 2013 WORCN SC Report

Co-op 101 & Peer Resource Group: Thursday March 14 (con traducción)

Si necesita traducción, envíe un correo electrónico a staceycordeiro@gmail.com, gracias.

At last month’s meeting we decided to have two meetings on a regular basis: A Co-op 101 for folks who are new to worker cooperatives, and a Peer Resource Group for worker cooperators who are either already in the process of forming or are a part of a worker cooperative.

This month, we’ll be trying a format where the first hour is a Co-op 101, and the second hour is a Peer Resource Group. Both are open to the public, but folks new to worker co-ops are strongly encouraged to attend the 101.

Thursday, March 14

Co-op 101

6-7pm. Come at 6pm sharp! Presented by Stacey Cordeiro of the Boston Center for Cooperative Ownership.

Peer Resource Group

7-8pm. Topic: Financing Cooperatives with a short presentation by Maggie Cohn of the Cooperative Fund of New England on “What Lenders Want: Demystifying the Loan Application Process”, followed by discussion

Location: New Economics Institute at Cambridge Innovation Center, 1 Broadway, 3rd FL, Cambridge, MA 02142

Note: When you arrive at the lobby of the building, you will need to sign in at the front desk. Tell them you have a meeting on the 3rd floor.

Food: We’ll have some light snacks donated by Harvest Food Co-op. Co-ops helping co-ops!

P.S. The Lucy Parson’s Center and the Boston Area Solidarity Economy Network are doing a Cooperative Networking Night on this Tuesday, March 12 at 6:30pm. More info and RSVP: http://lucyparsons.org/calendar.php?action=event&eventid=1342

Next meeting: Thursday February 7 (con traducción)

We will have interpretation at the meeting. Si necesita traducción, envíe un correo electrónico a ben@quilted.coop, gracias.

We’ll be getting some pizza or other food for the meeting. We suggest a donation of $5 for food. Or bring food to share.

Date & Time: Thursday, February 7, 6-8pm

Location: Make Shift Boston, 549 Columbus Ave, Boston MA 02118

Agenda:

  • Check in
  • Review agenda, add items
  • Draft proposal on how to move WORC’N forward and help it meet the needs of existing co-op and new/startup co-ops (see background below)
  • Possible additional topics for conversation
  • Check out

Additional topics for discussion that were brought up that weren’t covered at our last meeting:

  • Review the 7 principles of co-ops and discussion (5)
  • How do we create and support participation & accountability? (4)
  • What co-op trainings do co-ops give? (4)
  • Are there equal # of women to men in worker co-ops? (2)
  • How do you strike the balance between the enterprise and the mission/value driven organization? (2)
  • Looking at structures that can limit or help co-ops grow given the conflict between “do you need big co-ops versus a lot of co-ops? (1)

Background on proposal for moving WORC’N forward:

Aaron, Stacey, Micha and I have been reaching out to various folks in WORC’N to ask them what they want WORC’N to look like and how much they would be able to contribute. We’ve also been reaching out to other co-op networks around the country such as NoBAWC (SF Bay Area), MadWORC (Madison, Wisconsin), VAWC (Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts) to get a clearer idea of their histories, strengths, and challenges.

Next meeting: Wednesday October 10, 2012 at 6pm

The next meeting of WORC’N is on October 10, 2012 at 6pm at 549 Columbus.

Last month, we decided to spend part of each new meeting on a topic. This month’s topic will be: Participation & Accountability + the future of a worker cooperative movement in Boston

Location:
549 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA 02118 (map)

The location is easy to get to from the Orange line (Massachusetts Avenue Station). Parking is very limited. Consider public transportation. Wheelchair accessible. $5 suggested donation for food costs.

Facilitators: Ben Mauer (Quilted) and Aaron Dawson (Equal Exchange)

Note-taker: Lisa Russell (Equal Exchange)

Upcoming Boston Events: Local Co-ops, Green Cleaning, and Union/Co-ops Collaboration

These events are part of a series of workshops leading up to the US Federation of Worker Cooperative’s National Conference coming to Boston this June 22-24.

POTLUCK: Worker Co-ops in JP and Beyond

Wednesday May 9th, 6:30-9pm
Nate Smith House, 155 Lamartine St, Jamaica Plain (map)

Get an introduction to worker cooperatives. Hear about local worker cooperatives like Red Sun Press, Equal Exchange, Quilted, and the new Dorchester Food Community Co-Op. Join us for a discussion of what it look like to develop worker cooperatives in our communities and what community issues co-ops could address. RSVP to Orion Kriegman at orionk@gmail.com. It’s a potluck so please bring something to share!

Vida Verde Green Cleaning Workshop

Wednesday May 16, 6:30-8:30pm
Encuentro 5
33 Harrison Ave, Boston, 5th Floor (map)

Come learn how to protect your health and the environment by making natural cleaning products, and hear how Vida Verde members have empowered themselves and taken charge of their health and their jobs by starting a worker cooperative. Childcare and Spanish and Portuguese translation will be provided. RSVP to Susan Hecht susan@wildlabor.org.

DINNER AND DISCUSSION: Unions and Co-Ops Unite!

Wednesday May 23, 6-8pm
SEIU Local 1199
150 Mt Vernon St, Dorchester, 02124 (map)

Overview of what a worker-cooperative is, the history of labor union and co-op cooperation, and recent national developments. Hear about different models of workplace democracy, including worker cooperatives who’s worker-owners are also unions members. Discuss the challenges and advantages of workers being both worker-owners and cooperative members and how unions and cooperatives could work together more.

Please RSVP to James Razsa at jamesrazsa@yahoo.com. FYI – Check out the latest development in union-co-op collaboration from Pittsburg!