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New Worker Co-op Benefits from Technical Assistance Grant

When Daimen Hardie (pictured) and his coworkers at Community Forests International set out to build a multi-stakeholder co-op to combat climate change in Atlantic Canada, they knew they would need some help. What they didn’t yet know was that a source for such help was readily available — the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation’s Technical Assistance (TA) program. Through small grants, the program matches CWCF members with co-op developers who can assist them with any issues they might be facing.  “It was really like an organic thing where we knew we wanted to build a worker co-op and we were out hunting for mentors, and this program was brought to our attention as a way to help compensate a potential coach or technical expert,” says Hardie. Enter veteran co-op developer Russ Christianson, who brought his extensive experience to Hardie and the other cofounders of Ecosystem Collective Cooperative in a variety of…

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News from Our Members – May 2019

The Fairware Changemaker series, which highlights entrepreneurs and thought leaders, recently featured Chris Nichols, Operations Coordinator and Co-Founder of Wood Shop Workers Co-operative in Vancouver. The episode shows how Wood Shop creates custom furniture, millwork & metalwork using reclaimed and upcycled materials, while running a co-operative that provides meaningful employment in the Vancouver community.   Nova Scotia co-op Just Us Coffee was also in the news recently for an initiative it took to reduce its carbon footprint in the shipping of its coffee beans (pictured above). The beans travelled to Halifax from Mexico via a German schooner, instead of the normal process of transport by shipping container. And the latest in our member profile series, this one focusing on La Siembra, is available here. La Siembra is celebrating 20 years of providing fair trade sugar, cocoa, chocolate bars, and other products under the Camino brand.

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Leading Effective Meetings Webinar

Have you ever wondered why meetings can some times wander off in all directions? Why discussions on important issues can just keep going in circles and never seem to get resolved? This webinar, which takes place from noon – 1 p.m. EDT June 5 and June 11, will give you some insights into how we think and process information, then present some models that can be used to keep discussions on track and arrive at decisions that can be supported by the whole group. In first one hour sessions we will: Have a discussion on human cognitive processes and how they affect our conversations and decision making,Introduce a tool for planning focused questions to plan the conversations and have an opportunity to practice the model between sessions. In the second session we will: Discuss the use of the focus question planning tool which was practiced between sessions,Introduce and practice the…

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Arts and Culture Grant Winner Chosen

First prize ribbon award vector CWCF is pleased to announce that after reviewing the six submissions received, it has decided on the winner for this year’s arts and culture grants. Eyemole Arts and Technology Co-operative received a $1000 grant, funded through a bequest from the late CWCF President Mark Goldblatt, to create an online interactive story about the history of co-ops. Congratulations to Eyemole, and thanks to everyone who applied. It was a very strong field, and the committee’s decision was not easy. The awards committee’s decision was informed by the following considerations. In order to be considered the initial pre-screen criteria included the following: ·       The key players needed to be under 35 years of age ·       The project promoted co-operatives in general ·       The project could be completed within the year. All projects submitted were then evaluated using the following criteria, listed in order of importance: ·       The…

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News from the US Worker Co-op Sector

Carpenter Todd Hindmarsh, of Oakland, with the Arizmendi Bakery cooperative’s new construction business, works at a construction site in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, May 23, 2019. The cooperative bakery, with locations in San Francisco, the East Bay and San Rafael, decided to take the red hot housing market head on by launching a new cooperative construction business. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group) Truthout’s Brian Van Slyke explores how business successions are a key source of the recent increase in American worker co-ops. In another Truthout piece, Robert R. Raymond, explores how “the American Dream” of immigrants is making a comeback thanks to worker co-ops. And Erin Baldassari of the Mercury News explores how Arizmendi, a California association of worker cooperatives best known for its bakeries, is addressing the state’s affordable housing crisis.

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La Siembra Co-op Celebrates 20 Years

Article by Kenzie Love and Tom Hanlon-Wilde From its humble beginnings in the community kitchen of an Ottawa church to its current location in 10,000 square foot warehouse, La Siembra has come a long way over the past 20 years. As it marks the two decades since its founding in 1999, the co-op faces its share of challenges but also has much to celebrate. Established by three young entrepreneurs who’d worked overseas, the co-op reflected its founders’ desire for an alternative to the exploitative nature of trade on the lives of many family farmers. Inspired by the organizational structure of these farms, La Siembra decided to replicate it by incorporating as a worker co-operative, selling cocoa-based products and sugar under the Camino brand name. As there was no fair trade certification system for cocoa-based products at that time, La Siembra’s founders adopted the guidelines of the Fair Trade Foundation. In…

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Upcoming webinars

CWCF will be hosting a series of webinars in the coming months: Worker Co-ops 101 Peter Hough: Part 1:  May 21, 12:00 noon ET, and Part 2: June 4, 12:00 noon ET This two-part, interactive series is designed for people who are working in a worker co-op.  They are most appropriate for those who have recently become members or who are thinking of applying to join their co-op, but anyone involved in a worker co-op is welcome to participate.  Part I will cover basic definitions, statistics on the movement,  and the co-op principles as applied to worker co-ops. Part II will cover governance and management principles in a worker co-op, and provide information about CWCF. The webinars will be presented by Peter Hough. Peter has over 30 years of experience as a member, manager, and/or director of worker and consumer co-operatives. He has assisted with many co-operative start-ups, developing bylaws,…

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London Brewing Succeeds by Emphasizing Community

For many breweries, fulfilling a goal of creating and selling great-tasting beer might be reason enough to celebrate. Not so, however, for London Brewing Co-operative. The first co-op brewery to open in Canada outside Quebec, London Brewing wanted people to enjoy its products, of course. But they also wanted to use organic and sustainable ingredients, have a democratic workplace, and operate with an eye on the triple (social, environmental, and financial) bottom line. The strategy appears to have paid off. London Brewing Co-operative has been growing steadily the past few years, and the trend looks set to continue. The co-op moved into a more spacious location in 2017, offering it increased brewing capacity and the chance to open a taproom where customers can eat and drink in comfortable pub-style surroundings. In February of 2018, London Brewing received a $92,600 grant from a joint federal/provincial initiative to support agribusinesses. The co-op…

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