The Co-op Curious go to Energizing Communities

Five reasons for the  Co-op Curious  to attend Energizing Communites: Co-operatives Nurturing Democratic Practice

Of the close to 8,000 people visiting the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences this year at the University of Calgary from May 31 to June 3, a dynamic group of  learners will be attending Energizing Communities.

Why should you care?

When asked why the Co-op Curious should attend the conference (see www.ace.coop/agenda-at-a-glance), noted co-op developers had these insights.

Networking — The top reason is not surprising given there are thousands of thoughtful people congregating at the same locale.  Even among those who are only attending sessions of social economy and co-operative themes, there are a world of ideas and generations of learning. Participants will gain a number of new colleagues to lean upon.

Learning what’s possible — Heard of the Cleveland Model? The Co-op Curious should “learn the comprehensive strategies that formed the backbone of the Cleveland Model,” says renowned North Dakotan co-op developer Bill Patrie.  Steve Dubb of the  Democracy Collaborative will talk about this change-making strategy in, “Community Wealth Building and Cooperatives: Adapting the Cleveland Model to Other Cities.” Co-operators have other models for betterment. Calgarian Hazel Corcoran will speak about using the Arizmendi replication strategy (similar to a co-op franchise) outside of its home base of the San Francisco Bay area.

Visiting other frontrunners — Participants have a chance to see the co-op scene in Calgary and nearby Airdrie, firsthand. A tradition that dates back to the fifties for co-op educators, Mobile Learning Sessions (tours) will visit six co-ops and credit unions to learn about ten new or established ventures. “Get the inside scoop on what happens on the ground, and see co-ops in action,” says Seth Leon of the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association. It is a great way to, “understand how they meet member and community needs in different ways,” he adds.

The Youth Cohort, young co-operators from across Canada, United States and the Caribbean, informs the overall conference. Last year, the group added vitality to the Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

The Youth Cohort, young co-operators from across Canada, United States and the Caribbean, informs the overall conference. Last year, the group added vitality to the Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Whose Voice Counts? This is the catchy title of Amy and Tim Dauphinee Scholarship Recipient Jayne Bergeron’s presentation. She looks at inequality, even in the face of co-op principles built on democracy and equality. Leon recommends this session, but it isn’t the only presentation that deals with barriers to those who wish to create their own futures. Presenters at the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Co-op Development and Education Plenary Panel will explore why co-ops have or haven’t been chosen in indigenous communities, and how to create greater respect for indigenous cultures. The conference also has a Youth Cohort to amplify the voices of the next generation.

Fun — Nothing gives co-operators more joy than talking with others who have great ideas for betterment.  With receptions or banquets every evening, and an atmosphere of celebration and optimism, the Energizing Communities conference will recharge  everyone’s motivation to make a difference.

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