My time and the training in the Upper Peninsula was wonderful – my visits to Marquette, Escanaba, Sault Ste Marie, Houghton and Hancock, and Ironwood put me in contact with two dozen young people interested in cooperation who were not yet involved in the movement. In Marquette alone, over ten young people attended the training. A great deal of the success outreach in the region was due to the work of Save the Wild UP, which sent out a message via its listserv and also helped us in getting an article on the trainings published in the Mining Journal. My favorite training location so far was in Ironwood, where we used the kids play area in the back of Northwind Natural Foods Cooperative for the training!
One of the highlights of my circuit in the UP was connecting with an elder business owner who is seriously interested in transitioning ownership to his workers over the course of the next several years. His patience can allow him to take advantage of the 1042 Roller tax incentive, and he wants to sell to his workers for all the right reasons - “I have made of this business what I wanted, now I want others to make this business what they want.” Most of his workers are youth who are from the area and owning this business would allow them to stay in the UP as they choose to start families, buy a home, or put down roots in other ways. The business owner and I commited to staying in touch and getting him connected with some worker cooperative conversion specialists when the Youth TCI comes back to the UP this winter.
Ultimately, my time spent in the UP was very productive. I made a number of important connections with individuals and groups, while also built trust with folks who I now know will promote and recommend Youth TCI to their networks in the future. Building networks through this first year of circuit travel lays the groundwork for future years of operation and starts an important regional and generational conversation about economic democracy and self-determination.
For pictures and more details about each of the five stops and trainings in the UP, check out the photo albums here.