Defending the Commons — NASCO Conference

People who want to learn more about cooperation with a group of young
folks who really have their acts together should consider presenting
at the North American Students of Cooperation conference. The
conference handles everything thing from college housing co-op to
community led co-ops and deep economic, social and political issues
for people of all ages.

If you don’t mind sleeping on couches or floors housing will be free,
and they pay everything else for presenters.

NASCO Institute 2012: Cooperating to Survive and Thrive Beyond Capitalism: Building a Solidarity Economy.

This year’s Institute will give participants an opportunity to
envision a different economic future, to learn about grassroots
peoples’ movements fighting for economic justice, and to explore
economic alternatives already under construction. In celebration of
the International Year of the Cooperative, we’ll look at models of
cooperation internationally that are meeting human needs while
centering the values of solidarity and interdependence, and critically examine how we can create and sustain relationships across borders that are rooted in justice. We’ll get the opportunity to think big as we imagine a future beyond capitalism, as well as to get down to the nitty-gritty of creating and building on local alternatives.

This year’s course tracks:
1. Shifting the Paradigm: Understanding the Global Economy to Transform It
2. Solidarity Economy: Alternatives Under Construction
3. Youth Rise Up! The Role of Youth and Students in Popular Movements
4. The Science of Survival: Basic Coop Skills
5. The Art of Thriving: Advanced Coop Skills
6. “When the People Come, Will We Be Ready?” Building Inclusive Cooperative Spaces
7. Developing New Coops

Here’s a list of potential workshop topics and themes we’d love to see at Institute this year:

Defending the Commons
The housing crisis and resistance to foreclosures and eviction
The role of coops in the movement for housing justice
Students’ movements–in Quebec, Chile
The shape of inequality in the US & Canada
Mapping the solidarity economy
Economic systems beyond capitalism

Applied Solidarity Economy models, such as:
Alternative currencies
Alternative banking and credit unions
Worker coops as a basis for a democratic economy
Community land trusts
Open source movement
Models for sustainable food production/distrib.; food justice
Solidarity economy efforts across borders
Social economy in Quebec
Mondragon cooperatives
Argentinean factory recuperation
Evergreen cooperatives in Cleveland

Coop skills track
We’re looking for proposals for discrete workshops, but also “experts” to be part of panels focused on answering participants’ questions. Has your coop hit on a great model for organizing labor? Have you served as maintenance coordinator for a few years, or helped plan major renovations on your coop? Please get in touch with, and tell us a little bit about your experience.
Labor systems
Kitchen management
Member leases and landlord/tenant law

Building Inclusive Cooperative Spaces/Anti-oppression track
We’d be interested in proposals organized around systems of
oppression (racism, classism, transphobia, etc.) and how they operate
in coops. But we’d be especially interested in proposals that explore how an analysis of systems of oppression and commitment to challenging oppression informs how we do things as coops, such as:
Meeting facilitation
Conflict resolution
Member recruitment and retention
Member education
Labor systems

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