Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Davis Cooperative Community Network!

"What started as some words over coffee, a discussion over a shared slice of pizza, we want to replicate here..."
Luis Sierra, a member of Dos Pinos began to share how the Cooperative Network idea started.  Luis invites us to discuss at our tables what challenges we had in our own organizations and what opportunities the Davis Cooperative Community Network might provide to addess them. 

 34 of us sat around half a dozen tables in a mix of friends and new faces.  We'd gone around and introduced ourselves, our backgrounds and co-op experiences. We hailed from:
  • Dos Pinos
  • former Pacifico residents
  • SCHA (Sunwise, J Street, former-Homestead)
  • N Street
  • former Muir Commons
  • former Domes
  • Tri Co-ops
  • Butterpat
  • Bicycle Collective
Different members spoke the story of their co-ops, some inspiring and some tragic, and some both at once.  The designed-to-fail Homestead with it's amazingly ambitious vision; the rebirth of the bike collective with support of the cooperative community; the successful organizing to protect the Davis Student Co-op from campus expansion plans for another year and the need for further support from alumni and the cooperative family.  The impending forclosure of DATCHA.  Perhaps more than any other, the sudden adoption of the struggling Pacifico by the City, with the opportunity and financial support to really turn it around or lose it forever. 

For the next thirty minutes the room was abuzz with different discussions around each table.  Sharing stories and ideas, asking questions; everyone feeling the energy of so many people and groups, no one with any idea what to expect. 

As we came back together to share our brainstorm, we quickly filled up the flip-chart pages with challenges: Food issues, lack of experiences, member training, balancing rules and traditions, transitioning from housemates to homeowners through different cooperative models, the power and danger of shared assets, financial commitment, architectural challenges, bad apples.

The opportunities that followed weren't only lose ideas, but plans for future meetings.  Network workparties -- dinners followed by banging out a certain task -- letters to editors and active lobbying on behalf of co-ops, a centralized website to share practices, applicants; a web of consulting, a brain trust. 

Where will this go?  None of us are certain.  There's a plan for a second meeting next month, and several groups already volunteering to host.  There's an grant application already filed with DFC for a cooperative network workshop.  There's a mailing list, some energetic people, and a host of issues to tackle.  Who knows what we can't do?

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