Time and work in Stevens Point was very illuminating and included a visit to an artists' cooperative, the largest rural Polish diaspora, a not-so-cooperative youth-run lemonade stands, & more. Hanging out in north-central Wisconsin also provided me the opportunity to spend time and talk with Margaret Bau, a seasoned and insightful cooperative developer of many years.
To ensure the success for a regional program like this, it is imperative that the Youth TCI works closely with local and state Partners who work daily in the communities where the trainings are taking place. While the Youth TCI is run through an organization based out of the Midwest, the program and its organizer will still be unknown in many of the communities it visits. Knowing this, it is important that we have local stewards of the program who can help with community introductions and education about the area's history, industry, and culture.
While I hail from the Midwest and have traveled extensively throughout the region, I know there is a lot about the region that I have yet to learn and experience. And, just because I grew up here doesn't mean that everyone I meet will think and talk just like me, so it is important that I take care and get to know the people and communities in which I am working and traveling. In service to this, I recently spent a weekend in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan driving around to meet folks, seeing potential training spaces, and participating in a training put on by Save the Wild UP, a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to the preservation of the Upper Peninsula’s unique cultural and natural resources.
The training took place in Marquette and lasted two days. In that short time participants were given a wealth of information and insight - we were walked through the history of the area, had regional experts talk about current legal, social, and environmental issues, and were introduced to local citizens doing work to preserve and improve their communities. I learned an immense amount and grew my respect for the people in the region and the work they are doing to keep the UP an amazing place to live, work, and play. I look forward to my trainings in the UP throughout July!
Next, I am heading through Wisconsin to "Take Care and Get to Know" by attending a cooperative conference, visiting with folks throughout the state, and seeing some rolling countryside! EMLC
I am a Cooperative Organizer who was born and raised in the Midwest. Throughout the past eight years, I have worked with youth and students as we developed and ran our own cooperatives all over the country. While I was living out in Southern California and working with the Santa Barbara Student Housing Cooperative, I felt called to return to my Midwestern home to reconnect with my roots and strengthen the region's connection with the national cooperative community and its resources. The Youth Traveling Cooperative Institute was a program I envisioned after the powerful experiences I had traveling to train other young people in cooperative development in California and through my work with the North American Students of Cooperation. After explaining my vision for the program to a colleague in North Dakota, they informed me that what I was thinking of fit perfectly into the already existing and successful Kris Olsen Traveling Cooperative Institute program. Shortly after meeting with Northcountry Cooperative Foundation staff about the program, we set out together to turn the vision into a reality in 2014.
Outside my work with the Youth Traveling Cooperative Institute, I am also a Core Organizer with the USA Cooperative Youth Council (USACYC). I serve on the Boards of CooperationWorks!, a US network of cooperative developers, and the Data Commons Cooperative, which works to maintain robust and useful technological platforms for sharing information in the solidarity economy. You can find more information and links to some of my presentations by starting here.
In cooperation - EMLC