Newest Version of DC Coop History

Yes, there is a new version of the evolving history of DC cooperatives!

Washington, DC has had a long history of cooperatives. In part, this was because African Americans have sought to form cooperatives as a way create economic and political freedom. As Jessica Gordon Nembhard has argued, “African Americans have used cooperative economic development as a strategy in the struggle for economic stability and independence.”  In 1907,W.E.B. Dubois spoke in favor of a wide range of cooperatives and alternative economic institutions. Cooperatives would reDuboismain a key arthur_capper_windowinstitution in the toolbox of African American social movements. These attempts were supported in DC by people like Arthur Capper, a Kansas senator who headed the District of Columbia Committee, and Cornelius “Cornbread” Givens,  a national advocate for cooperatives, who moved to DC when Marion Barry became mayor.  Washington, DC remains a central location for these social movements and thus would have a rich cooperative history.

Johanna Bockman has been slowly writing an evolving history of DC cooperatives. Here is the newest version of this history, which she presented at the 2014 DC Historical Studies conference:  (The earlier version

She is going to revise this paper significantly. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to contact Johanna Bockman:

Coop Community Garden looking for help

Cooperative Housing University of Maryland will be actualizing the pillar “Concern for the Community” with our kickstart program Calvert Hills Tomato Garden, where we envision to plant a ton of tomatoes and then give them out to people at need within the community. We have been donated 50 seedlings, and are on our way to get a truckload of compost from Public Works. Please help us make this a reality! We need donations for building supplies, be it in the form of money or simply pvc pipes, cedar wood, bird netting…etc.. Any help is great. Saladarity Forever!

Vote for Squash the Boss Kitchen Co-op

My business Zenful Bites has been working with a group of AU students to develop a business plan for a commercial kitchen cooperative in order to foster small food entrepreneurs and create a sustainable food system in DC.Squash the Boss

The students submitted the business proposal to Ag Prize and have been accepted to the second round. The students will travel to Madison April 24-27 to compete against 24 other teams for prizes up to $100,000.

Additionally, the team with the most votes will win an audience prize of $15,000.

If the idea of supporting small food entrepreneurs and sustainable farmers sounds good to you,

Please VOTE for Squash the Boss by using this link and encourage others to do so as well!

You can vote once per day until April 24th by ‘liking’ Ag Prize on Facebook and voting for Squash the Boss Kitchen.

For more information about Squash the Boss Kitchen, see the abstract below and contact us at if you have any questions or are interested in getting involved!

ABSTRACT: With today’s food industry dominated by agribusiness and consolidated food manufacturers, local farmers and small businesses are failing to compete. A channel must be opened to develop local economies and communities around local foods to achieve food security and agricultural sustainability. Squash the Boss Kitchen (SBK) provides a model for this to be accomplished. SBK is a cooperatively-owned shared commercial kitchen located in Washington D.C.. For a monthly fee, business startups become member-owners, receiving access to a licensed commercial kitchen and a vote in the decision making process of SBK. Bridging the gap between small business and local farmers, SBK provides reliable year-long access to local and healthy produce to each member. By centralizing businesses to one location (SBK), a large demand is concentrated, allowing farmers to supply a greater quantity of goods per trip, creating more cost-effective distribution and allowing the farmer to sell at lower wholesale prices. Auxiliary services provided by SBK, such as cooking and educational classes, instill value in local agriculture and business throughout surrounding communities. Thus, SBK connects all aspects of the industry – the producer, preparer, and consumer – creating a food enterprise ecosystem that fosters strong relationships and responsible outgrowth.

Josephine Chu

UMD Cooperative Housing hosts event

Cooperative Housing University of Maryland is hosting a workshop and discussion on the economic of cooperatives this Friday, April 11th 2014 at 7 pm in the Nanticoke (Rm: 1238) of STAMP Student Union in College Park, Maryland. The workshop is being led by Jessica Gordon Nembhard, an associate professor of community justice and social economic development in the Department of African-American Studies at John Jay College, CUNY. She is author of the book “Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice,” and she has conducted extensive research in the fields of race, economic inequality, and cooperative economics. This event is FREE and open to the public so everyone come join us in learning more about cooperative economics.

You can see the facebook page and RSVP for the event here!

You can read more about the Speaker Jessica Nembhard here:

Cooperatives and Civil Rights on YouTube

GRITtv: Jessica Gordon Nembhard: Cooperative Economics and Civil Rights


Cooperative economics and civil rights don’t often appear together in our history books, but they should! From the mutual aid societies that bought enslaved people’s freedom to the underground railroad network that brought endangered blacks to the north, cooperative structures were key to evading the repression of white supremacy. And they was a vicious backlash when Black co-ops threatened the status quo.

“The white economic structure depended on all of these blacks having to buy from the white store, rent from the white landowner. They were going to lose out if you did something alternatively,” Jessica Gordon Nembhard,  author of Collective Courage: A History of African-American Economic Thought and Practicetells GRITtv’s Laura Flanders this week.

Interview Link

On GRITtv, Laura Flanders talks to creative thinkers and change-makers from the worlds of politics, arts and the new economy. The smartest conversations, with the smartest thinkers and doers of our time, distributed in multiple formats on a variety of platforms. GRITtv content is distributed free for you to share or embed using the links provided. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Please use @GRITtv when tweeting about this interview. 

Lafayette Credit Union update!

From “Lafayette FCU Members File Board Petitions” in the Credit Union TimesZuckerman Bohner-crop-600x338

Two members of the $370 million Lafayette Federal Credit Union filed board candidacy petitions seeking, among other things, to stop the credit union from conducting board elections at a country club.

Tuesday morning, members David Zuckerman and Chris Bohner delivered petitions with the signatures of 214 other Lafayette members that support their addition to the 2014 ballot for two previously uncontested board seats. Read more.