We are a group of cooperatives and provide a space for all cooperatives in the Chicago Region to come together and share our stories and practices with each other. Some of us were involved with the 2018 Chicago Co-op Economy Summit, where 300 cooperators got together and shared their stories. We get together once a month, virtually, and, in-person, one time every three months. Please tune into the conversation at our email group.
The Back Story
In 2018, some cooperators, many aligned with Chicago’s Democratic Socialists of America chapter, organized a Summit. The cooperative ecosystem has changed tremendously since then. Many cooperators began development of their own projects.
- A group of folks interested in workers co-ops, the Chicago Cooperative Ecosystem Coalition, met periodically and planned and hosted several broader gatherings until the pandemic took the wind out of our sails in 2020.
- Xochitl Espinosa and others started Co-op Ed Center, an incubator for worker cooperatives, in 2018
- Many cooperators worked throughout 2018 and 2019 to get the Limited Workers Cooperative Assoication law passed in 2019 and went into effect in 2020. This has opened the gates for worker and worker-owned multi-stakeholder cooperatives in the state.
- Mike Strode facilitated many co-op gatherings from the Chicago DSA Soidarity Economy Working Group (and associated sewg email list) to the Cooperation for Liberation events.
- Late 2020 or early 2021, Mark Smithivas, Logan Square Cooperative (a housing co-op) contacted ChiCommons with the idea that we might replicate the 2018 conference virtually. We all agreed, joined Mark and other cooperatives to begin planning this. We met first in February 2021 and have been meeting most months since then.
In the past four years, the co-op ecosystem has energized many co-operators, and their work spawned many new cooperatives. Let’s get together and celebrate our successes!
One of the difficulties with the 2018 summit was that organizers put the summit together in a relatively short time, and, in the process failed to get in touch with key actors in the cooperative ecosystem. We heard that criticism and hope to avoid it by inviting cooperators to join us in planning 2023’s summit. We plan on offering plenty of opportunities to join in and make your voice heard.