April 26-27, 2020 - Sacramento, CA
California Center for Cooperative Development
Venue: Sacramento Scottish Rite Center
Save the Date for the 2020 California Co-op Conference
The California Co-op Conference is a multi-sector cooperative conference designed to offer unique opportunities to explore how this democratic business model promotes local sustainability, economic development, equality, and economic alternatives to “business as usual.”
We will gather in California’s State Capital: Sacramento – the City of Trees! Together we’ll explore the most effective ways to strengthen and expand the cooperative movement.
DISCOVER how cooperatives revitalize and fortify local economies by creating jobs, housing, and locally owned businesses
LEARN how to strengthen you own cooperative and start new cooperatives
ENGAGE with other cooperators and share ideas, experiences, and strategies
Become a Sponsor of the 2020 California Co-op Conference!
Showcase your organization as an innovative leader in the cooperative movement! Sponsor the California Co-op Conference to promote your commitment to local economic development and community while also getting your name out there among statewide cooperators. Contact us to learn about our sponsorship offerings.
Stay tuned for upcoming Registration information!
Interviews of Participants of the 2019 California Co-op Conference
Zulma Giron Interview:
(This interview was conducted in Spanish and translated to English)
What organization are you here with? “Yolo Eco-Clean Cooperative--YECC.”
Where are you located? “We are located in Davis.”
What do you do? “I am a member of the cooperative and we clean houses.”
What areas do you serve? “In Davis, Dixon Esparto and Woodland. We have thirteen members in the cooperative.”
How long has this cooperative been going on? “I have been with them for seven months and the cooperative has been going on for almost two years.”
Okay, so not too long. Sounds good. Before this have you ever heard of anything similar? “I used to clean houses for someone else but a former co-worker called me about this cooperative and so I decided to join. And I like it, it’s really great.”
How did you meet your friend? “She was a coworker at my second job. She recommended me and talked to me about cooperatives and I thought it was a really great idea.”
Is this something you would suggest to others? “Of course I would, the work is great here!”
What are the good and bad of the cooperatives? “I really like it because it is very flexible, you can choose your own hours and when there is an emergency, someone is always there to pick up your shift. Since we are a team we resolve conflicts with each other’s help.”
Do many of you have families? “Yes, many of us have children and some members are only able to work from 9-3 or 9-4. And some are available until 5pm. We also clean offices, churches and schools.”
As far as the conference goes, you were here with the Spanish speakers, correct? How did you think it went? How can we improve? “It was all great! All perfect, I loved it. It was my first conference and it was honestly really great.”
Really? Anything you would suggest we fix? “No, really, it was great! And the food was great! I like a large range of food.”
Final question, what would you say to a friend? “That I loved it, it was a great event.”
Bruce Mayer Interview:
The next person in this series is Bruce Mayer. He and his CPA firm have worked with and provided tax and accounting services to over 200 cooperatives throughout the country. Bruce was also a speaker at the conference, leading an informative workshop on the “Impact of Tax Changes on Cooperatives”. He shared with us some of his favorite things about the conference!
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into co-ops? “My name is Bruce Mayer and I work at a CPA firm, Wegner CPAs. I started out in co-ops many years ago working at a little food co-op and I’ve lived in housing co-ops and started doing accounting work for them.”
What are your favorite parts about this conference? “I really like hearing people’s stories about their co-ops, the conversions, and how they’re solving problems. It’s really interesting to hear about all the different ways that people go about co-ops.”
What would you recommend people to do while they’re here at the conference? “I think that the sessions are good but really, it’s the in-between session parts [that] are really good. You just have to try and talk to as many different people as you can because you’re going to find somebody who’s dealing with the same sort of problems that you are and maybe has a solution for you.”
Eva Carillo Interview:
Hi, could you tell me your name and a little bit about yourself? "My name is Eva Carillo and I started working at the co-op about 2 years [ago] and I like the idea [of YECC] because it’s eco-friendly. I started [because I wanted to] try it out and [then] I liked it. I like the opportunity for[sic] being an owner, having [the co-op be] ours, and the possibility to be with your family too. And also, all the opportunities that this can bring to us, like [there are] a lot of workshops or [how] every day we learn something new."
Did you have any experience working as a cleaner before YECC? "No, before I applied for the position, I didn’t have any experience, only at home. But I learned every day and each day, you have to, well you learn more."
What do you think has been the most challenging part about being a member in a worker co-op? "The more[sic] challenging is [that] we don’t know nothing[sic] about business and about finances, so it’s hard."
In what ways do you think having a facilitator has helped you guys? "It’s been a lot of help because [there’s been] training and we learn in the process and we also have like a coach near to us that [if] we have questions, we [can] ask."
Do you have any advice for anyone that wants to join YECC but doesn’t have any experience and feels intimidated? "I would say to them that each job, you’re going to learn something. If you don’t have the experience or you have kids, in this co-op, we understand the challenges to be a mom. There is always a way to work it out for everyone and [make sure that they] feel welcomed to[sic] the co-op."
David Brown Interview:
Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your organization? “Hi, I am David Brown and I am from Co-op SC from Santa Cruz. Co-op SC is an organization focused on community interest around development of cooperative, we are excited about the possibility of growing an ecosystem in Santa Cruz. Most of what we do are panel discussion in the community to raise interest and awareness, that there’s a cooperative model that could be an alternative to traditional businesses model.”
How do you reach out to your community? “For now, we are very active on social media, we are a small organization, but we have success, we have a growing cooperative movement in Santa Cruz. Mostly we use Facebook, Instagram, we have gotten a couple of complementary articles on local newspaper, like the Good Times, and that help generate interest….”
How long have you been involved in your organization? “I’ve been working [there] for a little over two years now, and it’s been great. We only had two co-ops in Santa Cruz when we began, now we got quite a few in the channel. Now we have Hardcore Compost which is a composting service; we’ve got another one in the channel called Tapicat Café, which is when someone purchased a business and converting it. Another one that was just launched called Little Giant Collective, it’s a shared space for print artists, and they are sharing the retail of it. There is also the Builder’s Collector, and they are licensed contractor trying to find a better way for people to get involved in business ownership.”
Would you say other co-ops in Santa Cruz be interested in joining the conference as well? “I think so, the reason is that one of the things that Co-op SC did this year was we fundraised with the help of the conference itself, to have five cooperatives represented here.”
What programs seem to interest you? “For me, I am trying to do a finance track, because I know that a lot of the cooperatives working in Santa Cruz are very good at what they do, but they lack the resources to help them talk about money. They know what they have to do, but they don’t know how to connect the dot and make it happen.”
What makes you decide that you want to go this route? “That’s a good question. I am an analyst in the county’s human services department and sometimes we get to do really good work, but most of the time I feel like we spend a lot of time mowing the lawn of properties and in the morning it grows back. Seldom do we get the opportunity to focus on the root of poverty, and work towards building more equitable economy. The cooperative movement seems to me that it has the most hope and has the most impact on people’s lives, when I look around to find different approaches to a more sustainable economy. Co-op seems to be the place where we can expand democracy the most, and this is where we make a difference.”