Our “Growing a Co-op” event was a big hit!

On Wednesday February 9, 2011, Skookum brought Carol Murray up to Powell River to spread the word about cooperatives, what they can do, and how to get them going. Carol is the Director of Co-op Development at the BC Co-operative Association, and is one of the people who helped Skookum’s initiating group find its bearings and get through the early stages of planning and incorporation.

Some of the amazing food prepared by Skookum members Jacqueline MoralesFran Cudworth

Skookum planned this public event in the spirit of the fifth principle of the International Co-operative Alliance’s Statement on the Co-operative Identity (emphasis mine): “Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public — particularly young people and opinion leaders — about the nature and benefits of co-operation.”

Skookum signed on to a very slightly amended version of these seven principles when we crafted our own statement of principles,  and we endeavour to live up to themcommunicate them to members  and others.

We wanted to create an opportunity for people to learn more about cooperatives, since we learned when we got started that there is a lot of misinformation and confusion out there.

A pretty full house! And somehow enough food to go around...

Carol spent most of the day on Wednesday meeting with various people and groups who had indicated that they were interested in having a sit-down meeting to talk about a cooperative idea they were thinking about. And then on Wednesday evening she made a presentation to packed room in Trinity Hall at the Powell River United Church.

But before we got to the presentation, there was food: Skookum member Jacqueline Morales prepared two delicious lasagne made with pasta from flour locally-milled by Periwinkle Granary. Fran Cudworth of Periwinkle Granary also prepared fresh garlic breadfantastic vegan pizza in honour of Carol Murray, who is vegan. Members brought salads and desserts, and amazingly we managed to feed everyone who showed up, although the turnout was somewhat larger than we anticipated. Maybe cooperatives are one more people’s minds than we thought…

Carol Murray in action

Carol presentedtook questions from the floor. You can view or download her PowerPoint presentation here. One thing is certain from the conversations that Carol had earlier in the day and from the questions that people were asking: there is considerable interest in cooperative housing  and land ownership. There are a lot of people keen to farm and create collective projects requiring land, but the cost of land  remains too high for many people, especially younger people in the region. Skookum hopes that we can make progress on that front, since access to land  for community agricultural projects is certainly something we’re thinking about for the future.

We wish to thank the Powell River Food Security Project, First Credit Union,the BC Co-operative Association for helping us put on this event; Fran and Jacqueline for the most wonderful food I’ve ever seen at a free public event; all our members who helped with donated food and labour; and everyone who showed up. Most of all, we thank Carol, who was extremely generous with her timedid a great job of spreading the word about cooperatives.

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