Origins, Consequences and Healing: Changing the Co-op Leadership Lens


Communities of color have always understood the significance and impact of cooperation for both survival and success. Still, oppression continues to negatively impact these communities, even within cooperative spaces. If you want to welcome those who’ve been historically marginalized or underrepresented, if you want to reach beyond your usual audience, and if you’re ready move from “intention to action,” this workshop is where you begin, where you practice and where you decide to shift. The lens we use to choose, decide, judge, evaluate, etc. is the same lens our Founding Fathers used to “design” America to benefit a specific subgroup of the population. We’ve been using that lens ever since despite its failure to firmly grasp and tell the story of our democracy. The cooperative democratic process, with our principles and values, offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate what is possible for all of America’s citizens when that shift is made. Participants in this interactive workshop will focus on how America’s founders created and shaped the current lens, what has happened as a result, and how we can all heal by shifting the lens through which we perceive “right,” “appropriate,” “just,” “fair,” etc. In looking at our co-op industry we will examine how—despite our principles and values—we’ve allowed ourselves to become a mere microcosm of the many American ills including biases, exclusion and inequity. When sincerely practiced, cooperative principles and values accept that difference is beneficial to the whole, and that equity and inclusion from boards to staff, membership and communities feeds and fills the needs of our nation. We will begin with a multimedia presentation designed to take us from the beginning to today through the current lens being used, and then engage in role play to demonstrate shifting the lens of leadership. After our role play exercise, attendees will break out into groups for a discussion on ways to approach shifting the lens to incorporate “walking the talk” of equity and inclusion in leadership development. Finally, we’ll report out on our findings and discuss tools for implementing what we’ve learned when we return home.

Share This Post

We hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, we would love it if you would share it to your social networks!