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 ways. Christianson helped the fledgling co-op develop bylaws and articles of incorporation, as well as leading them through a feasibility exercise to determine that their underlying business model was sound. Although his time as a consultant through the TA program has concluded, Christianson will continue to help the co-op over the next four or five months, and Hardie is confident the program will continue to help co-ops who make use of it.
“Absolutely”, he says when asked if he’d recommend it to others. “I already have.”