USFWC

by Benjamin Bradley

The 2018 Worker Cooperative National Conference brought together over 450 attendees from all over the United States and beyond. ACBA board members Annelies Lottmann and Benjamin Bradley were in attendance, sharing news of members coops in Austin, and networking with regional groups from other cities. Several enthusiastic cooperators took home Cooperative Principles Posters, which will now also be found among the collection of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. Conference keynotes explored the future of work in a rapidly shifting world, and inspired action towards economic and racial justice. Workshops included a range of topics of interest to worker cooperatives both forming and established, including financial literacy, social skills and peer coaching, funding, and governance. Look for news of the next national conference in 2020 at https://conference.coop.

Interview with Board member Carol Fraser

by Donald Jackson

Tell us about your experience with co-ops.
In 2013, I started working for a worker cooperative - a farm near Montreal called Ferme Tourne-sol. Though I didn’t join the cooperative (I was hired as a temporary, seasonal worker), I got a first hand look at how they run their day-to-day operations and their business as a whole. I was impressed not only by their farming techniques - top-notch - but by their efficiency, and how much fun they had. They inspired me to open my own market garden a few years later, but more than that, they reminded me that owning and operating a business with your friends can be just as rewarding as it is challenging, and the best part is no boss!

Why do you think co-ops are important?
I think co-ops are important because they respond to community needs. When it comes down to it, “normal” for-profit corporations are responding to the needs of a small amount of people (the Board, the CEO, the shareholders), whose primary goal is to make more profit for themselves, at any expense. The primary goal of a co-op is to provide a service for a community of people, usually in a small place (a neighborhood, a city, or a region). This can be the simple goal of providing decent work, affordable housing, or good food, for example. This is somehow a pretty radical idea in our society, but it seems to me that businesses like co-ops are only going to become more necessary in the future. We need to start looking out for each other more, and thinking less selfishly, in everything we do. That definitely includes economically.

How are co-ops related to your studies and work?
Co-ops are very much related to my work as an urban planner and sustainable design scholar. I see co-ops as great models for sharing resources and generating economic activity in a way that’s more fair to the underserved and more conscious of environmental impact. This is because of what I said earlier; since co-ops are concerned with what they produce and for whom, not just the profits that are generated, the whole outlook of co-ops is just different and has different long-term implications for society. Through my work, which right now is focused on the relationship between co-ops and sustainability, I hope I can raise awareness about co-ops and the potential they represent for our society.

What are a few things the readers probably wouldn't expect about you? 
One of my favorite activities is baking my own sourdough bread. I also make a really mean apple pie. Really, I love to bake, and share with family and friends.

I’m an extrovert and I love being with people, but one of my favorite ways to re-charge is to go on solo, week long bike tours in the countryside. There is truly nothing better to clear your mind.

In college in Montreal, I majored in German and East Asian Studies, so I speak German, Japanese, and French. Ja!

What's your favorite baby animal?
My favorite baby animal is probably a baby owl. They are the cutest!

If you imagined a newspaper headline about the Texas co-op movement 20 years from now, what would it be?

In 20  years, the headline will be: “From housing, to food, to manufacturing: co-ops drive the Texas economy, earning the Lone-Star state a new nickname, ‘Basque region of the Americas’” 

Board election candidate deadline extended to Oct. 2nd!

The Austin Cooperative Business Association is seeking candidates for the board of directors! If you love coops and want to help them grow and thrive in Austin, consider applying! The deadline for candidates to apply has been extended to Tuesday, October 2nd. For more info see our Election Information Packet: https://drive.google.com/file/d/196mqInrCxzRTLG1cYFOvoytXDIgqo4qC/view

You Can Help Make Austin a Co-op Superstar City!

Do you share our vision of Austin as a thriving cooperative business center and a national model for an equitable economic system? Now you can help us get there! I am so pleased to introduce a new way to support the cooperative economy in Central Texas, through a tax-deductible donation to the Austin Cooperative Business Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.  ACBF’s mission is to build and expand the cooperative economy in Central Texas. We help co-ops start-up and solve problems, and we educate Austinites about the cooperative model and how it can work for them.

This Fall, the ACBF’s goal is to raise $5000 from individual donations to make Central Texas an even better place for all types of cooperatives to thrive.   Your tax-deductible donation will allow ACBF to create even more educational programming and technical assistance for established and aspiring co-ops around central Texas.  
We have many ways to say thank you for donating.  All individual donors who commit to a monthly subscription become members of our Cooperation Club! You can check out our great thank you gifts, including Commit to Co-ops T-shirts and our gorgeous Cooperative Principles Posters designed by artist Christie Zangrilli at our donor page.

I know a financial contribution isn't possible for all of our supporters. If you prefer to participate by sharing your time or talents, I invite you to visit our Get Involved page.

We envision ACBF as a hub for Austin’s next generation of community-minded individuals, coming together to build a robust, equitable, and sustainable economy in Central Texas. Thank you for partnering with us to support the co-op business model. Together, we can create a more just, cooperative Central Texas!

Sincerely,
Annelies Lottmann
ACBF Fundraising Committee Chair