OPINION | Organized, cooperative home care a shortage solution

Minnesota is projecting a shortage of as many as 53,000 home health care workers by the end of this decade. In order to avoid forcing older Minnesotans and people with disabilities into nursing homes because of worker shortages, there are several steps we must take to professionalize the industry, raise wages, and provide better benefits.

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Cooperatives for Broadband? A primer on an option for rural areas

Cooperatives are an important part of Minnesota’s economic and cultural history and, for those in attendance at the Co-op= Community Development Conference last Friday, a path to future community vitality. I felt lucky to attend. Mark Ritchie, MN Secretary of State was the keynote speaker and talked about the link between Minnesota’s long standing culture of community engagement, voting, volunteerism and our standing as the land of cooperatives. Kudos to Secretary Ritchie for sticking around and participating in small group round table discussions after his speech proving that learning is a two-way street. Continue Reading

Historical background of African American cooperatives

Mary Alice Smalls was a member of the New Riverside Café, a workers’ cooperative in the Cedar-Riverside community in the 1970s. Known as the Haight–Ashbury of the Midwest, Cedar-Riverside was a national center for counter culture, and the New Riverside Café was known as the community’s living room where customers could pay what they could afford.According to Smalls, “There were very few people of color that knew about the co-op and those that were interested were interested in alternative to capitalism. Some were more militant than others.” It was that militancy that seemed to undo the work of the cooperative. “Decisions were made by consensus, anybody could block a decision, sometimes people would block a decision for political reason that were not linked to the issue at hand.” said SmallsSmalls is a member of the Seward Community Co-op board and is the only African American board member. To her, the co-op is more than just a place to shop: “It is a way to have an alternative environment that protects democracy.”The principles that guide the work of co-ops suggest that they are designed to serve a greater good of organizing people for political and economic change. Continue Reading

African Americans in the Twin Cities co-op movement

“There were two African American owned co-ops in the Twin Cities,” according to Gary Cunningham, former staff of the old Bryant-Central co-op. Gary’s uncle, Moe Burton, was the energy behind the co-op that formed in 1975 on the corner of 35th Street and 4th Avenue.Decades earlier, in 1946, the Credjafawn Social Club formed the first African American Co-op, the Credjafawn Co-op, which was located a few blocks from the current Mississippi Market Co-op location at Selby and Dale.FULL DISCLOSURE: LaDonna Redmond works for Seward Co-op as Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Friendship site in the Bryant neighborhood. This is one of a series of articles written as part of her Media Skills Fellowship with the TC Daily Planet:Seward Co-op plans for second store run into questions of race, class and food justiceFriendship Co-op proposal: Opportunity for community or one more white space? African Americans in the Twin Cities co-op movementHistorical background of African American cooperatives St. Peters AME church member and Central community resident, Gregory McMoore became concerned when he learned from a Wilder Foundation report that found that you can predict the life expectancy of people by their zip code. Continue Reading

Friendship Co-op proposal: Opportunity for community or one more white space?

Environmental justice organizer, Anne Young, has been involved in the co-op movement since 1973. Young became membership coordinator at Seward Co-op in 1981. When she joined the co-op, it was in poor financial shape. Young is credited with leading the effort to reorganize Seward to achieve financial success. Young currently staffs the Harrison community’s effort to create the Wirth Co-op in north Minneapolis. Continue Reading

Seward Co-op plans for second store run into questions of race, class and food justice

“Will the store cause a rise in rents?” one community resident asked during the July public meeting about Seward Community Co-op’s plan to open a store across from Sabathani Community Center. At the heart of the discussion were questions about race, class and food justice. How can Seward Co-op serve a community that is primarily African American and working class while it currently serves a community that is white and middle class? In other words, can a white-led co-op serve a black community?A few weeks prior to the community meeting, the Bryant community grapevine had gotten news that a local cooperative wanted to expand in the community. Continue Reading

Community residents want to be heard, not ‘saved’ by new Seward Co-op in South Minneapolis

UPDATED August 12, 2013 – Seward Co-op released a pdf document with questions and answers from the meeting. That document is now attached to this article. Click on the pdf at the bottom of the article to read the full list of questions and answers. The Bancroft-Bryant-Central-Powderhorn Park neighborhoods of South Minneapolis exist in a “food desert” according to the United States Department of Agriculture. A food desert is a geographic area that experiences both high poverty rates and low access to large grocery stores.  In a June 9 listening session, community members responded to a proposal by Seward Co-op to locate a store right inthe middle of the neighborhoods. Residents made it clear that they were not going to allow the Seward Co-op to just “parachute in,” as one resident put it, and save the day.Longtime residents of this area can tell the history of food access in their neighborhood: a long list of corner stores and small supermarkets that did not last long. Continue Reading

Beer? Wine? Meat? Late hours? Dawn of the new—with a nod to its past—at Seward Cafe in Minneapolis

Friday, March 8 marked a new chapter for the Seward Café, one that in many ways returns it to its roots. The worker-owned, collectively-run cooperative will once again be open late into the evening. Staying true to its mission, it will begin offering more meat options, as it did in the past, and resume pouring beer and serving wine. Entertainment will be regularly featured, beginning later this month.Radical Roots Collective member Ben Acaso says that changes were prompted by a really good summer. He chalks up the bump in business to the magic of plastic, i.e. credit cards. Acaso adds that it didn’t hurt to be named “best vegetarian” by City Pages in 2012, or that a team of food critics for Mpls.-St. Continue Reading

Wedge Co-op in Minneapolis awards support good work in the community

The 17th annual WedgeShare awards ceremony, held January 17 at the Wedge Community Co-op, honored work being done by nine local non-profit organizations.Josh Resnik, the Wedge Co-op’s new CEO, said that overseeing a philanthropic program that gives a portion of the co-op’s annual profit back to the community is one of the most satisfying parts of his job. Since 1997, Wedge Cooperative member-owners have awarded more than $600,000 in WedgeShare grants to organizations whose work aligns with the co-op’s values. Resnik explained that all nominees must advance the International Cooperative Alliance’s Principle #7, demonstrating concern for the community. To be eligible, an organization must also be non-partisan, non-sectarian, and engaged in activities related to the natural environment, health and wellness, natural foods and sustainable agriculture, community involvement and capacity-building, or cooperative-related activities. Members vote on WedgeShare grant recipients at their annual fall meetings. In October 2012 they decided that these organizations would divide a total of $75,000:•       Emergency Foodshelf Network•       Open Arms of Minnesota•       Water Legacy•       Minnesota Food Association•       Community Design Center of Minnesota•       Centro Campesino•       Great River Greening•       Midtown Farmers Market•       Cycles for ChangeTwo organizations were showcased. Michael Venker, a board vice president, spoke on behalf of Open Arms of Minnesota, best known as the state’s only nonprofit committed to preparing and delivering free healthy meals tailored to the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, ALS, breast cancer and other diseases. Venker also highlighted lesser-known efforts, such as ensuring that children living in South Minneapolis’s Phillips neighborhood, where Open Arms is based, have access to healthy foods in the summer. A world away, he said that Open Arms has been working with communities in sub-Saharan Africa to provide food and technical assistance to people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Midtown Farmers Market was recognized for its committment to providing all community members with better access to healthy and affordable foods. Continue Reading