2020 Keynote and Workshops
Keynote: Ed Whitfield
Employing the Co-op Business Model to Promote Social Change
Drawing on his work with the Fund for Democratic Communities and his extensive engagement in justice initiatives, Ed will weave together his theory and approaches for advancing social change, equity, and justice through cooperative enterprise and non-extractive finance.
Ed Whitfield is co-founder and co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities (F4DC), a limited-life foundation committed to building models and infrastructure that foster authentic democracy through cooperative enterprises and community ownership. The fund is focused primarily in the Southeast United States and North Carolina. Ed serves on the board of The Working World (TWW) and the New Economy Coalition (NEC). He also chairs the board of the Southern Reparations Loan Fund (SRLF), a network of Southern, place-based loan funds that are part of Seed Commons: A Community Wealth Cooperative. He helped create the Southern Reparations Loan Fund to finance sustainable, democratically owned and controlled businesses.
A long time social justice activist, Ed has been involved in community organizing and peace work since the late 60‘s when he was a student activist at Cornell University. He has served as the chair of the Greensboro Redevelopment Commission for nine years, and is the former board chair of Greensboro’s Triad Minority Development Corporation. Ed is deeply involved in theorizing and promoting the development of cooperative enterprises in marginalized communities throughout the South.
Among the conference tracks we’ll be presenting this year are housing, consumer, worker, and multi-stakeholder. A number of workshops will be presented in Spanish or offer Spanish translation. Workshops will focus on the following general areas:
- Building the Cooperative Ecosystem: topics include promoting co-ops as tools for economic development and social equity, current local and state policy efforts, and trends in co-op conversions.
- Co-op Start-up and Management: topics range from member engagement and growth to governance, communications, and ownership culture.
- Legal and Financing: topics include navigating common legal challenges, entity creation, and approaches for raising capital. MCLE credit is offered for select workshops.
The categories below indicate which co-op sectors workshops apply to, whether workshops will be presented in languages other than English, and which workshops are eligibile for MCLE credit.
|Housing Co-op Focus
||Food Co-op Focus
||Worker Co-op Focus
|Presented in Spanish
||Continuing Legal Education Credit
Building the Cooperative Ecosystem
One Person, One Vote: Emergence and Success through the Practice of Democracy - Mary Sutton, Collective REMAKE
From Antigonish, Nova Scotia to Lafayette, Louisiana; from Mondragon, Spain, to San Francisco, California; from Los Angeles, California to Naples, Italy, this mind map presentation reviews an extensive 200-year history of the origins, intersections, and philosophy of successful cooperative enterprises around the world. We’ll touch on the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in the southeast United States and the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the growing network of social cooperatives in Europe. Be ready to not only explore the lesser known histories of some of the most prominent global co-ops but to also discuss how their experiences can support the advancement of younger co-ops. Attendees will participate in an inquiry exercise to incorporate their knowledge into the presentation.
Local Governments, Lead the Way! Public Sector Support for Worker Co-ops – Grant Ruroede, Planning Division at the City of Escondido, and Kirk Vartan, A Slice of New York
Local governments across the country, including here in the state of California, are increasingly supporting worker-owned cooperatives. Governments are giving direct financial and technical support to worker co-ops in addition to playing an active role in educating communities and policy makers about their benefits. Come learn about what local, as well as state and national governments, are doing and can do to support worker-cooperatives. While the workshop will mainly focus on municipal support of worker-cooperatives in California and the greater U.S., we will also touch on public sector support at other levels of government and abroad. The workshop will benefit citizens, activists, policy makers and academics interested in public sector support of worker-cooperatives in particular, and worker-ownership more broadly.
Recovering our Cooperative Roots – Claudia Arroyo, Prospera (The workshop will be presented in Spanish with simultaneous translation into English.)
Join this interactive workshop to explore unlearning the culture of individualism that is embedded in U.S. entrepreneurship and reclaiming indigenous cooperative practices. Claudia Arroyo, Prospera's co-executive director, will engage the audience in an interactive activity to demonstrate Prospera’s popular education methodology applied to cooperative development. The workshop will culminate with a panel of Prospera’s Latina immigrant entrepreneurs sharing the wisdom that comes with their lived experience as immigrants.
Co-op Start-up and Management
Have No Fear! Co-op Finances for Worker-owners - Daniella Preisler, Colmenar Cooperative Consulting, and Deb Goldberg, Independent Consultant
Using popular education and interactive tools, this workshop will dive into a mix of essential financial activities that LLC members and developers need to pursue for the operation of a successful co-op. Content will touch on financial tracking and reporting, member training, start-up and feasibility, reserve needs, owner equity accounts and taxation, and tax preparation. Our aim is to help you increase your knowledge and resources on these topics so you can avoid pitfalls that might affect the healthy development of your business. Come with questions as we’ll be leaving time for discussion!
Organizational Culture: Creation and Maintenance - Kate Sassoon, Sassy Facilitation
The culture of our organizations is the primary road map we follow when participating in our group endeavors. It is the container which tells us 'how we do things here' for literally everything we do. In this workshop, we excavate the functions of culture in our organizations, identify sites where it is reproduced, and troubleshoot culture transmission models. We'll explore the challenges and opportunities in your organization's culture, and equip participants to engage with culture as a tool for creating and maintaining organizational excellence.
Managing Uncooperative Behavior - Kate Sassoon, Sassy Facilitation (The workshop will be presented in English with simultaneous translation into Spanish.)
Uncooperative behavior runs the gamut from breaking small group-process rules to outright criminal actions. When that behavior begins to negatively affect the health and/or existence of a member, a work-team, the organization, or the community as a whole, your group has a big, and often urgent, problem. In this workshop, we break it all down, and co-create a proactive plan to prevent, manage, and recover from the effects of uncooperative behavior in our communities.
Self-care for Collective Well-being and Solidarity - Mayerling Castillo and Daniella Preisler, Colmenar Cooperative Consulting
Gathering together during this workshop, we will open a space of trust for exploring accessible self-care tools and healthy lifestyle habits. Through dynamic and interactive activities, you will be able to analyze the evolutionary stages of individual well-being. Our objective will be to invite reflection on how to integrate self-care practices and tools into your workplaces to achieve collective well-being and solidarity.
Organizing Ourselves to Get Things Done: An Introduction to Sociocracy - Sheella Mierson, The Sociocracy Consulting Group
Learn about an innovative and deeply democratic way to run organizations and meetings. Sociocracy is a whole-systems approach to decision-making, governance, and project management applied by many worker and consumer co-ops. It creates more inclusive, resilient, and effective organizations in which all stakeholders have a voice in the policies that affect their work. In this experiential workshop, you’ll understand how to run more productive meetings, free up individual creativity and initiative, and streamline decision-making.
Leadership Development Among Immigrant-Owned Cooperatives: A Framework for Member and Developer Learning – David Smathers Moore and Ivette Melendez, TeamWorks Development Institute
Supporting members’ learning and engagement in their cooperative, facilitating the development of their leadership, and creating a positive participatory culture are often the hardest parts of the co-op development process. In this workshop, veterans of many co-op start-ups with decades of experience working with immigrant-owned cooperatives will share lessons they have learned and their framework for leadership development. This framework focuses on building relationships among Spanish-speaking member-owners as well as co-op developers so they can learn from each other and collaborate to overcome challenges.
Build Once, Measure Twice: Accelerating Co-op Development with Lean Start-up – Danny Spitzberg, Start.coop, and Ashley Ortiz, Arizmendi Association Development and Support Cooperative
Cooperative enterprises can overwhelm even the most experienced organizers and collectives. This session introduces a simple, accessible framework that draws on lessons from Start.coop, which helps accelerate co-op start-ups by getting clear on what capacity to put in place, and why. Participants will leave the workshop having identified the most important bottlenecks, and knowing when to add just the right capacity at the right time for scaling their cooperative business.
Enriching the Board and Manager Relationship – Jim Wells, All West Select Sires Cooperative
This workshop brings together the boards and managers of cooperatives with established operations, in particular food cooperatives and others with mid to large-scale membership. Participants will explore their roles and responsibilities as they relate to each other in order to better define decision-making powers and limitations to the success of the cooperative.
Board Service: What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then - Patricia Milich, Dos Pinos Housing Cooperative and Annette Lewis, Diamond View Housing Cooperative
Many people come into a housing co-op with enthusiasm and hope, be it founders or members who are from second and later generations. Along the way, there are a lot of lessons learned and experience gained whether as members or board directors. This panel of leaders in housing co-ops will reflect on some of their formative experiences as board members, and respond to these and other questions. As board members, what are the pitfalls that can cause stumbles and how can they be avoided? What proactive steps can be taken to plan for longevity and ensure that your co-op thrives?
Food Co-op Start-up: Ownership Growth Goals and Communication – Jacqueline Hannah, Food Co-op Initiative
Ownership growth goals need to be based on the unique needs of your start-up food co-op and no two start-ups’ needs are exactly the same. We’ll dive into how to set ownership growth goals that reflect your co-op’s needs and then address the even trickier part – which of these ownership goals to communicate publicly and how to encourage your co-op’s growth instead of slowing it (and the wrong message can slow it down!) If you have a current ownership goals timeline, bring it, as you’ll have extensive opportunities to perfect yours in this session.
Food Co-op Start-up: Ownership Growth Plan Building – Jacqueline Hannah, Food Co-op Initiative and Shannon Ratliff, SunCoast Market Co-op
The talented Shannon Ratliff, Outreach Manager at SunCoast Market Co-op, will join FCI in presenting the different tools you can use to grow ownership – from tabling to events to online campaigns – and how to integrate them for success. Each strategy will be shared as a group, highlighting what has worked and not worked, and workshopping what might have changed the outcome of your efforts. We’ll provide an overview of approaches start-ups have pursued across the country, but you and your experience will be center stage as you share with and learn from peers.
Food Co-op Start-up: Digging into Social Media Campaigns – Jacqueline Hannah, Food Co-op Initiative
We promise you -- your social media could be doing more for your start-up. We’ll bring our social media messaging expertise to the table and offer key tips on effective online messaging. We’ll analyze online messaging and campaigns from real start-ups and practice assessing what they got right and where they could have created more impact. Want to go really deep? We’ll be looking for two start-ups to volunteer to have their social media assessed. Volunteers will receive in-depth feedback on their social media efforts and recommendations for how to increase reach and visibility.
Food Co-op Start-up: Customized Action Plans – Jacqueline Hannah, Food Co-op Initiative
Combining everything we’ve learned in our day together, you’ll break into peer groups and identify what work your co-op needs to accomplish around ownership goals, growth, and communication. Using peer feedback, you’ll build a workplan highlighting your post-conference priorities leading up to our next gathering in the fall. If you’ve participated in this daylong workshop track, you can choose to be part of a bonus monthly check-in call to update us on your progress and get feedback!
Be the Best Board You Can Be: Governance Basics – Linda J. Brockway, National Association of Housing Cooperatives
The National Association of Housing Cooperatives’ award winning governance class is coming to the conference! This governance workshop is designed to support any board with the development of roles and responsibilities that will assist them in governing their co-op to meet member needs. The following three elements will be explained during this workshop: 1) why do boards govern 2) how do boards govern 3) what are the responsibilities of board members. The discussion will also briefly touch on the consideration of ethics.
Legal and Financing
Tax and Accounting Considerations for Cooperative Conversions and Start-ups - Bruce Mayer, Wegner CPAs (MCLE pending approval.)
When converting an existing business to a co-op or starting a new co-op, there are a number of tax and accounting issues to navigate which are important to ensuring a smooth launch of your enterprise. Conversions require a review of the tax consequences for the owner, the existing business structure, and the desired co-op structure. In a start-up, the final step of establishing a co-op entity is the key issue. This workshop will include a review of the features of various co-op structures and identify how to arrive at these structures. The tax attributes of several types of co-ops will be highlighted in addition to the differences between co-ops and other traditional businesses.
Navigating the Legal Landscape of Mobile Home Park Conversions to Limited-Equity Housing Cooperatives - Karen Tiedemann and Jeff Streiffer, Goldfarb & Lipman (MCLE pending approval.)
According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, California contains 5,257 active mobile home and RV parks with over 450,000 lots. Of these parks, fewer than 200 are resident-owned. A limited-equity housing cooperative can preserve affordable housing while also avoiding the type of exploitation caused by private speculators purchasing these communities. This workshop will outline the legal considerations for park owners who are seeking to convert their park into a limited-equity housing cooperative, and highlight some of the legal traps and challenges in the process. Mobile Home Residency Law, Limited-Equity Housing Cooperative Statutes, Homeowner's Association Law (Davis-Stirling), and Department of Real Estate regulations will be integrated into our discussion.
Getting the Green Without Getting in Trouble - Ricardo Nuñez, Sustainable Economies Law Center (MCLE pending approval.)
How do you raise money for a cooperative? This workshop provides cooperative entrepreneurs, members, and technical assistance providers with an introduction to the legal hurdles businesses encounter when trying to raise money for their cooperative. In this training, we cover what laws co-ops should understand before raising money for their business, what a security is and why you should care, and what alternative ways exist for funding the growth and operations of a cooperative.
Think Outside the Boss: When to Form a Legal Entity for Your Cooperative - Ricardo Nuñez, Sustainable Economies Law Center (MCLE pending approval.)
Think Outside the Boss provides community members an introduction to the nuts and bolts of starting and running a worker cooperative. We go over legal issues in an accessible way to help you understand the relationships between cooperatives, employment, and community wealth-building. In this session, we’ll cover cooperative principles and values, what a legal entity is and why you should form one, and what options exist for worker cooperatives and multi-stakeholder cooperatives with a worker-owner membership class.
Individual Taxation for Worker Co-op Members – Wayne Swan, American Tax Cooperative Corporation
You can never be prepared too early for tax season, which is why this workshop will deliver a brief introduction to individual tax issues related to different types of cooperatives, specifically LLCs and cooperative corporations, and forms of cooperative ownership. Since the legal form of the cooperative and the characteristics of the relationship between the cooperative and the individual cooperator make a difference in terms of the taxation of cooperative income, we will quickly define each type of cooperative and the related tax issues, from the simplest to the complex. The information contained in this seminar is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as tax advice. No participants, American Tax Cooperative Corporation clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the seminar without seeking the appropriate professional advice for your particular tax situation.
The Basics of Housing Cooperative Development, Rehabilitation, and Refinancing – Brian Dahlk, Wegner CPAs (MCLE pending approval.)
Let’s get down to the basics! This workshop will offer an introduction to the concepts of housing co-op development, rehabilitation, and refinancing. The discussion will be especially relevant for developers learning about cooperative housing and current directors of cooperatives looking at major rehab or refinance opportunities.