Year founded: 2011
Number of members: 30, mailing list 650
Investment: $25+ annual due
Cooperative Development Services is fiscal sponsor
CoMinnesota is a cross-sector cooperative group that got its start motivated by an address given by David Thompson, author of Weavers of Dreams. As part of his talk, he discussed the potential economic impact of cooperatives joined together to meet people’s needs for food, housing, electricity, finance and more. He inspired a group of people in Minneapolis to continue to sponsor talks by people promoting the cooperative economy.
That group then invited the author of Owning Our Future, Marjorie Kelly to speak. “She talked about what co-ops can do together. So, we decided to build a coalition around the book’s ideas,” said Danny Nordley, owner of Triangle Park Creative and one of the people who took leadership in the effort to educate the co-op community about the possibility of greater cooperation. Shortly thereafter, CoMinnesota was created as a group name.
Early in the group’s development, Cooperative Development Services in St. Paul, Minn. became a fiscal sponsor. With that support, CoMinnesota could launch a conference in Minneapolis to bring together people in multiple co-op sectors, as well as those involved in community development, including agencies, nonprofits and city governments. “The Cooperation Equals Community Development conference in 2012 acted as a beacon to bring the co-op story to other organizations, to show them how the co-op model helps business and communities,” Nordley said.
Afterward, community organizations, including LISC and Nexus (organizations committed to affordable housing, arts, culture, and minority-owned business) began to bring the idea of cooperation to their constituencies.
Additionally, the City of Minneapolis began investigating how to formalize a relationship with cooperative development organizations to support the launch of new co-ops in the city. In 2016, the City of Minneapolis started the Cooperative Technical Assistance Program C-TAP, which educates potential small business owners about starting cooperatives in the city. This year, C-TAP is expanding into Somali and Spanish-speaking communities. “The city sees co-ops as a tool for community wealth-building and a way to bridge equity gaps,” Nordley said.
CoMinnesota also continues to host brown-bag lunches on timely topics of cross-sector interest, and holds a monthly networking meeting called CoMingle that rotates among various co-op locations. “CoMinnesota’s goal is to create those opportunities to network and learn about what people are doing as well as to do some things together.” Nordley said that too often the current political climate divides people. He thinks that by focusing on “what we are for, rather than against” CoMinnesota will help foster better relationships. “We are setting up welcoming spaces and events in the co-op sector to create social networks that help all kinds of organizations pursue co-op work.”
Nordley said that despite some of the success they’ve had, he knows there’s a lot of untapped potential and more that could be accomplished if CoMinnesota had more resources. “We were naïve in understanding how much people-power and resources it would take,” he said.
CoMinnesota is currently going through a process of change to address that. They’ve become a membership organization and now have an official board of directors. They are seeking new ways to fund it, and encourage people to pay dues to support the organization financially. Their events committee has stepped up its efforts and they are ready to launch a new website. “There is a thirst to do more,” Nordley said. “It’s a good sign.”Add to favorites