Event Overview

Representatives from food cooperatives, housing cooperatives, credit unions, worker’s collectives, cooperative support organizations, local government, and the public came together in a multi-voiced affirmation celebrating our cooperative and solidarity economies in the Greater Chicago area and dialoging how to build, sustain, and grow them for broader and deeper impact.

We broke the day into concurrent panel discussions, breakout discussion groups, information tables, break room conversations, and an abundance of food and drink. Palpable energy levels dominated the event and everyone was able to engage in sharing their ideas and practices and hearing from others. Fortunately, the planning teams cooperated and pitched in, some in the last hours before the event to document the event. This website, a placeholder for documentation of the event, hopefully, continues the energy and information we exchanged as we continue to meet, dialogue, plan and execute organizations and activities to grow the cooperative and solidarity economies in Greater Chicago

Here is the schedule for the day:


Better Than Roommates: Housing Coops of Cook County

  • Liz Anderson, Director of Education for North American Students of Cooperation
  • John Arnold, Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants House of Hospitality
  • John Stoner, The HUB Housing Co-op

Moderated by:

  • Brigid Maniates, Qumbya Housing Cooperative General Manager

Building & Sustaining Food Co-operatives

  • Sharon Hoyer, The Dill Pickle Food Co-op
  • Vanessa Stokes, Austin Food Co-op Founder & Project Lead
  • Greg Berlowitz, Chicago Market board

Moderated by:

  • Nancy McClelland, Co-op CPA

Building the Chicagoland Ecosystem: Advocating for the Policy Changes that We Need

  • Stacey Sutton, UIC Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Policy, Chicagoland Cooperative Ecosystem Coalition
  • Eric Rodriguez, Illinois Worker Cooperative Alliance, Executive Director of Domestic Worker Day Laborer Center

Moderated by:

  • Renee Hatcher, Director of the Business Enterprise Law Clinic at John Marshall Law School

Utility Coops of Cook County: What They Are & Can Be

  • Pierre Clark, Director of ConnectedNeighborhoods
  • JustDesign Co-op
  • Special Guest

Moderated by:

  • Mike Strode, Director of Kola Nut Collaborative

Using Political Office To Increase The Cooperative Economy

  • Dr Amara Enyia, The Institute for Cooperative Economics and Economic Innovation Director
  • Special Presenter; UIC Great Cities Institute
  • Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Executive Director for Pilsen Alliance
  • Special Guest

Moderated by:

  • Jose Requena, Brand New Congress & Chicago Democratic Socialists of America

Hacking Traditional Capitalist Financing Tools for Rapid Cooperative Growth

  • Termaine Davis, Executive Director for Together Systems

Building More Cooperation In Your Life

  • Kelsey Walker, Greater Chicago Industrial Workers of the World
  • Sarah Kaplan, Cooperative Law Attorney
  • Mike Strode, Kola Nut Collaborative


Discussion Breakout Groups

Building a Culture of Cooperation in Chicago: Incorporating Solidarity Economy Principles into Our Organizations and Ourselves

  • Xochitl Espinosa, Executive Director for the Co-op Ed Center & Cooperation for Liberation Study and Working Group
  • Renee Hatcher, Director of the Business Enterprise Law Clinic at John Marshall Law School
  • Joan Fadayiro

Community Land Management

  • Elisha Hall, Cofounder of Ujamaa Community Land Trust & UIC doctoral candidate in building Sustainable Independent Black and Indigenous Institutions

Collaborative Urban Food Systems

  • Margo Mejia, Garden Education Consultant
  • Nick Lucas, Advocates for Urban Agriculture Programs Manager

Interlinking the Cooperative Economy for Growth

  • Steve Ediger, Data Commons Cooperative, Chi Hack Night, Chicago Chamber of Commons
  • Carla Ilten, Data Commons Cooperative
  • Daniel Cappy, Democratic Socialists of America
  • Merideth Lemmon, Cooperatives for a Better World

People’s Workshop on Participatory Budgeting

  • Maria Hadden, Executive Director for Our City Our Voice
  • Olga Bautista, Director of Community Leadership for Our City Our Voice
  • Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th Ward Alderman
  • Leslie Perkins, 45th Ward PB Coordinator
  • Nicolas Robledo, 10th Ward Intern
  • Justin Heath, 36th Ward Coordinator
  • Teresa Córdova, Director | Great Cities Institute

Local Circular Economy Principles

  • Stef Funk, Plant Chicago


  • Advocates for Urban Agriculture
  • Austin Coming Together
  • Chicago Market
  • DegrowUS
  • Industrial Workers of the World
  • Plant Chicago
  • Reclaim Chicago
  • Spudnik Press
  • Sustainable Options for Urban Living, Inc
  • TESA Collective

Additional Support

  • Ask First, Fuck Yeah!: providing consent awareness
  • CAIRS: providing interpretation services
  • Chicago Democratic Socialists of America
  • ¡Comunicate! Cooperative: providing interpretation services
  • Madison Area Cooperative Housing Alliance
  • National Public Housing Museum
  • Que Rodriguez from For The People Artists Collective: providing art design
  • Salsedo Press: providing flyers