Collecting Ourselves - Creating a Cooperative Entrepreneurship Curriculum for Everyone

When efforts moved on to start a system of low-income housing cooperatives off-campus, lack of support continued to be an issue. I emailed a national organization dedicated to helping students start housing cooperatives and never even got a response. Almost two years of work went by on these cooperative projects with virtually no outside assistance, resources, or expertise. Despite the lack of support and formal expertise, we were ultimately successful in starting a system of housing cooperatives. The co-op now owns over a million dollars of property and provides affordable housing for over sixty students and non-students in the community. By working with these various groups, I learned by doing and failing, several times.

In subsequent years, I continued my cooperative work by helping others, particularly young people, start their own cooperatives. I still struggled to effectively empower and inform groups because the support I was able to give focused on sharing my expertise through long emails or lengthy phone conversations that left me, and the people I was supporting, feeling drained. Most existing written resources to which I had access were narrative “brain dumps” of information and were written in ways that were inaccessible to many of the people with which I was working.

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