Archive for the ‘Co-ops in the News’ Category
This morning, I put up a section of the website that I’m quite excited about: the Hire a CIEP Intern page. This page includes brief bios of some of my fellow interns, and will be updated regularly in the weeks to come.
Obviously, I’m glad to put it up for some selfish reasons, since my bio is included among the others. But I’m mostly happy to be working on this because some of my favourite tasks in my job have been collaborations with other interns–the CIEP workshop series and Co-blogeration stand out–and so another chance to work with/for my CIEP colleagues is a boon.
When I think about my own uncertain employment future in isolation, it’s daunting. But when I consider the fact that there are nineteen of us out there, with our variety of talents, interests and aspirations, all asking “What’s next?” it becomes rather exciting. Who knows what we’ll all do, what we’ll all change?
I have a couple of news items to suggest this week too. First, check out the Be Remarkable campaign from the BC Credit Unions, which used Facebook photo tagging to allocate $100,000 in donations to local charities. A pretty cool use of social media.
And the United Communities Credit Union is up to some cool things too; they recently held their fourth annual Farms to Food Banks program, in which they and other donors purchased food from local farmers to give to local food banks. Supporting social assistance and local food at the same time? I’m a huge fan of this.
I’ve been working at On Co-op for two months and sixteen days.
This occurred to me just today, and it came as something of a shock. I feel like I’ve been working here much longer than that. This is partly due to the welcoming atmosphere in the office, which had me feeling like one of the gang in a matter of days. It’s partly due to the hectic time of my arrival–in the past month I’ve been through Gala, overseen the launch of a new website, crafted a holiday guide, started a series of videos, learned a myriad of new skills, etc., etc…. And it’s partly due to the mind-bending nature of new parenthood, which tends to be discombobulating even without the addition of new job-hood.
But mostly, I blame the blog.
Blogging regularly for the last two and a half months has pushed me to a new level of self-reflection, in service of creating what I hope are interesting posts. I have to find new and exciting tidbits from my life twice a week so that I can inflict them on the internet. I usually save this kind of reflection for my bi-annual existential crisis, but now it’s happening bi-weekly; that means that I’ve done a lot more looking back, and thus the beginning of this internship looks a lot further away than two and a half months.
It’s an interesting experience, particularly for a writer; it’s a bit like turning your life into a collection of short stories.
But despite the distortions in my sense of time, the clock on the office wall still seems to be ticking, and news keeps flowing in, so I’ll move on with more co-op news:
Good tidings for co-ops and local-foodies this week, with the Eastern Ontario Local Food Co-operative receiving a hefty sum from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to promote the co-op and local food in general. Congrats and keep up the good work, EOLFC! (You can see the other laudable grant-winners here.)
And for those more interested in sowing and harvesting knowledge, check out Cultivate.coop, a wiki devoted to co-op information. It’s a great place to find out more about co-ops–and if you already know everything about co-ops, it’s a great place to share that wealth with others. They’ve even got a blog for those who want a look behind the scenes; the most important ingredient in the creation of a wiki, it turns out, is cake.
You can learn so much in two months and sixteen days.
Two more stories for those with a hankering for co-op news.
The Torontoist has an interview with Bob Wiseman up on their site. Bob Wiseman is on the board of directors for the Blocks Recording Club, a very cool Toronto-based co-op. The interview is largely about the Tranzac Club, an awesome non-profit concert venue that’s facing some unfortunate financial troubles. Read the interview to find out more or, if you’re so inclined, you can head straight to their fundraising site and donate.
On the other end of the financial news spectrum, congratulations go out to Co-opérative de Travail Maintenance 1A Plus and the Eastern Ontario Local Food Co-operative, who both won Trillium Grants. Co-opérative de Travail Maintenance 1A Plus is a worker co-op just starting up that seeks to employ immigrant workers in the janitorial field and give them equitable working conditions. The Eastern Ontario Local Food Co-operative is another example of the great partnership between the co-operative and local food movements, working to improve the local food system in Eastern Ontario. To see how they plan to use their grants, or to check out the other worthy grant winners, you can go here.
Apparently, this is my week for becoming tech-savvy. In addition to the social media tutorials on Monday and Tuesday, I’ve been working on wrapping my head (and computer) around the task of creating a series of videos for On Co-op. (Fellow-intern Paul Skinner and I are collaborating on this. You should hear more about it later, I hope…) What that means is figuring out cameras, editing software, and digging into the possibilities of Prezi.
I’d had some experience with Prezi through university, but hadn’t had a lot of time to figure it out. Having explored it a little more fully over the last couple of days, I can say that it’s fantastic. It’s a whole new way to lay out presentations, thus there was a bit of disorientation at first, but it’s so intuitive that I’ve been picking it up quickly.
Between these two tasks–social media and videos–I’ve spent a lot of time recently exploring new programs. It’s fantastic to keep learning new skills through my work here. And since I’m still in the exploratory stage, it feels a bit like playing in the sandbox, figuring out what I want to build next.
Now I’m off to update the website. (For a guy who considers himself anachronistic, I spend a lot of time in the digital realm!)
As usual, I’ll leave you with an interesting item from co-ops in the news. Teeple Architects just won a national Design Exchange award for their work on the 60 Richmond East Housing Co-operative. It’s a pretty incredible design that combines living space with working and learning areas, and even includes gardening plots. You can read about the award at CBC, or find out more about the building itself at Teeple Architects’ website.
Another Ontario co-op won federal funding this week! Yesterday it was announced that the Haliburton County Community Co-op won a grant to hold a series of concerts in their community, bringing some great live music to people in their community. You can read the press release here, and if you’re in the Haliburton area, be sure to check out some of the shows!
As a writer, I’m always pleased to see organizations working to increase access to the arts. Though it doesn’t come with money attached, I’d like to add my personal congratulations to the co-op for their great work.
I got a chance to spend some time in their Burlington store last week, and after being wowed by the green building, I spent a while drooling over their amazing bikes. For the moment, though, new parenthood provides all the rigour I can take.
There are a couple of cool announcements to check out today, for those curious about the latest co-op news. Agris Solar, part of the Agris Farmers Co-op and a member of GROWMARK, is winning applause for creating jobs; the fact that those jobs are in renewable energy for agriculture makes it even better, in my opinion. And apparently the Eastern Ontario Christian Seniors Citizens Co-op isn’t the only one with good news these days: the Burlington Green renewable energy co-op, home of my fellow CEIP intern Erin Zukiwiski, just won a CEPP grant. Good news for both co-op and renewable energy aficionados!
After missing my usual Friday posting, I feel like I’ve been negligent in my relationship with the blogosphere. I’m sorry, ‘sphere. I’ll make it up to you with an extra-long post today, I promise. Also, I’ll buy you some flowers.
My reason for missing the posting was a good one, though: the CIEP workshop series was held from the 10th to the 12th. That means meeting all of my fellow interns, learning a whole lot, tasting delicious (and deliciously ethical!) coffee from Planet Bean and touring one of MEC’s impressive green buildings. It was pretty cool, in other words. It was also another example of how these internships aren’t just a source of cheap labour for the host co-ops–they actually want us to learn something.
There was a telling theme running through a lot of the workshops and presentations: interpersonal relationships. We learned about conflict resolution, networking, emotional intelligence, body language, ingredients for a good meeting… All of this drove home to me that relationships are a crucial component of co-op success. (Apparently I’m alliterative this morning.) You can’t run a co-op alone, so having a good working relationship with the people around you is extremely important. Loose cannons and co-ops don’t seem to mix. Which is good, because I general try to avoid artillery, metaphorical or otherwise.
For today, I’ll be returning my nose to the grindstone back here in the On Co-op office. (God forbid I let my nose get dull and rusty, after all.) The website and the holiday guide, I’m pleased to report, didn’t disappear while I was gone, so I’ll be getting myself back into those tasks.
I’m also learning what went on in the co-op world while I was away from my desk. Major kudos to the Eastern Ontario Christian Seniors Citizens Co-operative, who got some very good news ($8.3 million worth of good news) on the 12th. You can read about it here. I’m a particular fan of this quotation from Wilma Runia: “It’s not about the building, it’s about community and people living together and having purpose in their lives and not living in isolation and loneliness.” I applaud the focus on social change, even in during a time of incredible financial success. These are definitely the kind of people I want to receive government funding.
And for those looking for their own funding, the 2011 application for Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto Scholarships has been posted. These scholarships are for people living in CHFT member housing co-ops, and help people find the money for further education and training. Check out their website for more information.
So, until Friday, happy co-operating!
The Edmonton Journal has an article about women taking leadership roles in farming, and the accompanying shift towards more organic, community-minded (and co-operative) farms.
As a father myself, I’m not sure about some of the gender stereotypes in the article–increasing female leadership in previously male-dominated industries is accompanied by an equal, and equally positive, increase in male participation in stereotypically “feminine” areas like child and family nurturing. Regardless, however, the article is extremely interesting and indicates some of the positive social change going on around us right now.
The co-op model is all about seeing a need in the community and working together to fill it. The Journal at Queen’s University has an article demonstrating this principle in action: a group of people concerned over the closure of prison farms banded together to form a co-operative in order to buy up the cattle from one of the farms. The plan is to return the cattle to a prison farm once the program is rebuilt.
The article is written by Bill Flanagan, Dean of the School of Law at Queen’s and a member of the co-op. It’s a great read, and a great example of the co-op model being used to further issues of social justice.