DC Coop Day Sessions

Thanks to everyone who made it out on Saturday, October 27 for our first DC Coop Day!

If you missed it, or just want a recap, session descriptions and speakers are all listed below. We’ll also be adding notes (and in some cases recordings) of the sessions here, as we collect them.

We’d also like to thank our sponsors once again! Thanks for helping us pull it off!

Session 1: Narrative History of Coops in DC

  • Facilitator: Johanna Bockman
  • Speakers: David Walker, Takoma Park Silver Spring Food Coop; Takoma Park Silver Spring Food Coop; Reginald Luckett, Capitol Cab; Leta Mach, Greenbelt Cooperatives

Session 1: Housing Coops in DC

  • Facilitator: Ajowa Ifateyo
  • Speakers:
  1. Cynthia Torruella, president of Covington Family Association Co-op at 18th and Columbia Road in D.C.  The residents had to “move like lightning” when the owner tried to turn the building over to a developer and undermine their “first right” to purchase their building and make it a co-op.
  2. Audrey Hendricks, member of a market-rate housing cooperative in D.C.
  3. Takada Harris, President of the Ella Jo Baker Intentional Community Cooperative, a limited equity cooperative organized for social activists, in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of D.C.
  4. Ann Hill, president of the Potomac Association of Housing Cooperatives, and President of the board of the Second Northwest Co-op at 5th and N St. NW, DC.  PAHC is comprised of housing cooperatives in D.C. and Baltimore, and includes HUD housing cooperatives.
  5. Ryan McAllister, co-founder of Maitri House, House, an intergenerational intentional community — a single house with about 18 residents in Takoma Park, MD. Their community is a case study of the Sustainable Economies Law Center.He is also the coordinator NotJustSkin, a volunteer organization that supports the well-being of children and parents.
  6. Dominic Moulden, a member of ONE DC, who has helped develop or worked with the following cooperatives:  1422 W Street, Northwest – Spirit of W Street Cooperative, 700 Madison Street, Northwest, 1701-1703 Euclid Street, Northwest – Malcolm X Cooperative, 1213 10th Street, NW, Duncan Cooperative, MLK Latino Cooperative.  He has also been a part of 36 Q Street, Northwest Owners Association and Washington Hill Mutual Homes
  7. Amanda Huron, professor at UDC who has researched housing cooperatives in DC lives in a housing cooperative.
  8. Lester Cuffie, a member of the DC Housing Coalition and consultant to UDC on housing co-ops.
  • Content: The District of Columbia has more housing cooperatives than any state in the country, besides New York, which has a bigger geographical size and population than this 10-mile diamond-shaped municipality?  The housing co-ops range from “market-rate” ones like The Watergate, or the Van Ness Co-op, located near the University of the District of Columbia east of Connecticut Avenue, to smaller 6-unit ones like the I Still Have A Dream Co-op on 10th Street NW or the 15-unit Ella Jo Baker Intentional Community Co-op in Columbia Heights. Co-ops are a practical solution to housing crises in the big city, or on college campuses, or for rural communities.  Co-ops can be a solution for housing for the differently-abled, the elderly, those who share religious beliefs and other social or political beliefs.  What does it take to organize a co-op?  How can we get more housing cooperatives in our municipalities?  The Co-op Housing Fishbowl (an expanded “panel”) will discuss limited equity (affordable) and market-rate housing co-ops, government funds and/or policies that can or should be used to help organize housing co-ops, and resources for helping to organize co-ops.  We will hear from residents of housing co-ops, organizers of co-ops, representatives of organizations that work on affordable housing and housing “justice” issues and people who have studied and researched housing cooperatives.
  • Download Audio

Session 1: Worker Coops in DC

  • Facilitator: Pedro Cruz
  • Speakers: Israel Romero and Carlos Castillo from American Union Construction, LLC; Pedro Cruz and Amrita Wassan from Co-op Incubator DC reporting back about immigrant led coops across the country
  • View and add to session notes

Session 2: Coop 101

  • Facilitator/Speaker: Ajowa Ifateyo
  • Content: What in the world is a co-op?  Why haven’t I heard of this before?  How does a cooperative differ from a corporation?  What types of co-ops are there?  How do they work?  What are people creating co-ops to do?  How do co-ops serve those with limited incomes?  How do co-ops serve those with moderate or high incomes?  Can “professionals” use co-ops?  How do co-ops help serve social and economic needs?  How could a co-op benefit me individually/  How many people do you need to start a co-op?  Do co-ops make money?  What happens with the profits?  How in the world can a bunch of people make decisions?  Why aren’t co-ops for everyone?  Are people communist if they participate in a co-op?  How can you spot a true co-op vs. an imposter co-op?  What is a co-op economy, or inter-cooperation? Are there  examples of co-ops operating in other parts of the country and the world?  When should you run like hell from a co-op?  Is cooperation natural?  Am I fit for a co-op?  Where can I find out more about co-ops?
  • Download Audio

Session 2: Exploring the Evergreen Model in DC

  • Speaker: Steve Dubb, the Democracy Collaborative
  • Content: Steve will share an overview of the Evergreen Cooperative model, and the preliminary results of a feasibility study to bring the model to DC.
  • View and add to session notes

Session 2: DC SUN: Generating Power by Building and Unifying Solar Coops across the City

  • Speakers: Anya Schoolman, DC Sun; Akili West, Ward 8 Renewable Energy Coop
  • Content: Discuss basic elements of an energy coop; share about local energy coops; advice on how to start a solor coop; sharing best practices and resources; creating a power base to leverage favorable terms from government, suppliers, installers or distributors.

Coop Marketplace

Session 3: Starting a Regional Cooperative Network in DC

  • Facilitator: Ajowa Ifateyo
  • Speakers: Bob Noble from PACA
  • Content: Let’s Co-operate:  One of the principles of cooperatives is to do business with other co-ops.  D.C., Maryland and Virginia have many cooperatives of all types.  How can we mutually support each other?  How can we co-market?  How can we work with social justice organizations?  How can we operate sustainable businesses that have smaller energy footprints?  How can we support sustainable development?  How can we support the startup and maintenance of other cooperatives to deal with problems of social isolation, drug addition, unemployment, empowering schools, utilizing solar energy, food stores in food desert neighborhoods, recreation for ourselves and our children, day-care, adult and childcare, to lessen our everyday living costs through buying clubs, time-dollars, bartering, and creating cooperatives of all kinds.  How can we get our local credit unions and banks, as well as local, state and federal governments to create policies that foster the development of co-ops, cooperative enterprises and which support a local cooperative economy and neighborhood co-op zones?

Session 3: Food Coops for Food Justice

  • Facilitators: Joni Podschun, Healthy and Affordable Food for All; Josephine Chu, Zenful Bites
  • Speakers: John Whitman, American University Professor; Jake Schlachter, Food Coop Initiative; Jacqueline Canales, Sustainable DC; Nikki Thompson, GLUT; Jacqueline Canales, Sustainable DC; John Whitman, American University Professor and Executive Director of Museum for Black Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Jennifer Funn, MD Small Business Development Center; Jake Schlachter, Food Coop Initiative; Allison Burket, Real Food, Real Jobs
  • Content: Although a major city, Washington DC currently does not have a food co-op within its borders.  This session will give a brief overview about past examples of food co-oops in the city as well as past and current efforts to start a food co-op, and continue into a discussion with panelists and audience members about how co-ops can be in solidarity with food service workers.
  • View and add to session notes

Session 3: Building an Urban Agriculture Coop in DC

  • Facilitator: Zachari J. Curtis, organizer and farmer-in-residence, Healthy and Affordable Food for All
  • Speakers: Rev. Marjani Dele, ED/Permaculture Specialist, Nature’s Friends, Inc. VA;  Savanah Williams and Felder Freeman, Urban Rural Learning Linkage Living Institute International, VA;  Blain Snipstal, Farmer, Rural Coalition, DC;  Jeff Taylor, Tuscarora Organic Growers, PA; Gail Taylor, farmer, Three Part Harmony Farm, DC
  • Content: Open discussion about important elements of an agricultural coop; story sharing about local agricultural coop models; collectively envisioning an urban agricultural coop in DC.


  1. Pingback: DC Coop Day videos available online « Coop DC
  2. Pingback: What Housing Cooperatives Taught Me about Intentionality | Growing Up 2.0

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