Skip to main content

Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Check-in with Cadwell Turnbull

GEO Check-ins: Coronavirus Edition

Article type
GEO Original
May 11, 2020
Body paragraph

Many of us being our meetings with a round of check-ins, to re-establish connection with each person. In this time of quarantine and mutual aid, crisis and solidarity, we thought it would be good to do some check-ins with people in the cooperative and solidarity economy world. We asked each person four questions:

1. Who are you?

2. "How are you spending your time these days?" or "How are you keeping your peace these days?"

3. "Have you seen anything inspiring as it relates to cooperation and the solidarity economy during these times?"

4. "Can you describe one fruitful change, as it relates to cooperation and the solidarity economy, that you think might arise as a result of the pandemic?"

We hope you enjoy them.



Matt Noyes: So my first question for you, Cadwell, is if an alien were to drop in on this conversation, how would you identify yourself? How would you introduce yourself to this alien life form?

Cadwell Turnbull: That is a hard one. Does this does this alien understand human language?

MN: Yes.

CT: OK. I probably would give my name and point to myself. Give my name, Cadwell.

MN: Go ahead and do it. Imagine I'm the alien.

CT: I'm Cadwell and I would say that I'm a storyteller. It would depend on how much context the alien has about human culture. Does the alien know about writers -- what a writer is?

MN: I think you just you don't know. You're just going to have to go with you don't know what the alien knows about you or doesn't.

CT: OK. I'm Cadwell. I'm a storyteller, primarily. And soon to be a teacher. That's it.

MN: I love it. I think that's great. It's totally great. So you're in you're in Boston, right?

CT: Yes, Somerville. So right next to Boston. In the Boston area.

MN: All right. And then you have a lot to tell on this, I know. But how have you been spending your time? Or, you know, Malikia has this great question, "how are you keeping your peace these days?" I kind of like that.

CT: So in the mornings I have a writing group. There's a couple other writers that I work with. We just get on camera and we do our own work and we talk a little bit about what we're working on and some of the questions that we have. Some of the challenges that we're having in the writing. But for the most part, it's just us sitting and writing in the same space, if that makes sense. But that's part coping. It helps me get work done to have someone -- a group of people there working as well. And so it gives me a good start to my morning.

In the afternoons, sometimes I'll continue doing, writing or reading or I'll watch a film. Which has been a good coping mechanism for me, watching films, watching TV. Playing online Catan, which is a board game, but there's like a version on the Switch where you can play with people all over the world.

And so I play Catan with people that I don't know. That's what I do for the most part, I don't really leave the house much. So that's what I have. My wife runs. She goes out and does runs and walks in the morning for a couple hours.

MN: You were sick, early on, with covid-like condition and you weren't able to get diagnosed, right?

CT: Covid-like symptoms. I don't know what it was. And we weren't able to get testing and since I'm for the most part better now, I'm not really a priority, so I haven't really looked into it recently whether or not I should get the tests. I figure eventually when they're testing more broadly for antibodies, I'll go and see if I have covid antibodies and then I'll know for sure. But I'm still not 100 percent over it, but for like about a month I had covid symptoms, difficulty breathing, mucus buildup, and weakness in the joints, chills, all of that stuff, a mild fever.

MN: That must have been a little scary. How did it feel, I should ask.

CT: It's so for the most part, I would say I would. I had mild symptoms. I wasn't really that bad. It was like a day.

A solid day where I had difficulty breathing and it was that was really scary because I was like, this could be the worse it gets. Or it could be a cascade. It could get worse than this. And that whole day it was not just a difficulty breathing, but the anxiety of not knowing how far was going to progress. And I was already feeling like the hospitals must be overexerted at that point, and it would be -- you know, it would just be a really difficult time. And so, not knowing if I needed to go to the hospital or if I would have to eventually to go to the hospital, was nerve racking. And then having difficulty breathing and not being able to move around and be mobile the way I would want to. You know, that feeling of helplessness that you kind of like -- you know, I was stuck at home, so I couldn't do anything about it. And normally, if it was like normal times, if I was feeling that sick, I would be able to go to the hospital and that would be a thing that wouldn't be -- also, there's a pandemic and the hospitals are overexerted and -- thinking about all of those things was, you know, difficult.

MN: Have you seen anything inspiring as it relates to cooperation and solidarity economy during this period?

CT: I wish that I was keeping up with things as much as I should be. It's been kind of difficult on my end, but I have noticed that people -- I do go on Twitter a lot and I noticed that people are being supportive of each other. There's a lot of people having conversations about ways to cope during this crisis and reaching out to each other. Just checking in. There's a lot of people just being really caring and compassionate. And it's also been -- this situation has allowed me to reach out to family more.

I've been talking to my mom every day and talking to, you know, friends, and I talked to my brother and my sister more regularly and that's been really good. I've been doing things with people that I normally would do it myself. My best friend from back home recently -- we both recently lost a friend that we grew up with and he was a TSA agent in Atlanta, he contracted the virus and he -- yeah.

MN: Wow.

CT: And so we've been kind of coping with that loss through watching a TV show together. We've been watching Ozark together and just talking about it and, you know, making jokes and having conversations before and after and that, in a lot of ways, has helped us to kind of move through this difficult time.

And I've just been recently -- someone through you actually, connected with me about doing like a co-op story, like co-op gameplay, storytelling thing. And it hasn't started yet, but it's something that I'm excited about and it has to do with solidarity. And so, yeah, that's been exciting.

MN: I wonder -- in your story, The Lesson, it seems like you find kind of lessons or ideas for solidarity economy in the aftermath of a hurricane. Do you feel like there's any kind of similar dynamic in this pandemic?

CT: I think that a lot of the stuff has been happening. It's it's virtual for now, but I think that coming out of this, there's going to be a lot more work towards creating a stability that we we now know we lack.

So there's a lot of ways that the system that we've come to trust has been tested by this. And it was always vulnerable people and we were all already vulnerable. Some people didn't know how much they were vulnerable. But this has really been a wake-up call, I think, for a lot of people. And I think there is going to be a response to that which will be beneficial to the cooperative movement. I think people are going to come together and try to figure out, "well, if we can't trust our administrations, our systems, our companies and corporations to make sure that we're OK, what can we do for ourselves to make sure that we're OK? And what can we do for each other as community to make sure that we're okay?"

MN: I just realized I was confusing your novel, The Lesson, with a short story.

CT: Yeah, Monsters Come Howling in Their Season.

MN: That's what I was thinking. This was definitely a monster that came howling.

CT: Right. Right. Yeah, in the story, it's a hurricane and -- well, it's climate change. The hurricanes in the Caribbean are more severe. And there's a lot that the community has to do in order to make sure that the island is still livable. And also there's minimal damage, and then when there is damage that there's resources available to to make the recovery more expedient.

MN: So in this case, you see this sort of similar kind of test of the system and realizing, "wait a minute, we're not ready. We're weren't prepared for this."

CT: Yeah. I think that we were never ready and there was a lot of belief in, you know -- there's still a lot of people that don't believe anything's happening or they're not taking it seriously. And there's a movement, in the United States at least, of people asking for people to go back to work and the economy to open back up.

But I think that also is a symptom of the fact that we're just not really a cohesive country. We're not together on the things we should be together on.

And we're going to be asking ourselves some really hard questions. But I also think we're going to be -- we've already started having conversations with each other and trying to figure out how we can support each other.

MN: Our last question is, can you describe a fruitful change related to cooperation and the solidarity economy that you think might come out of a pandemic? So it doesn't have to be something you've seen happening yet, but a possibly-emerging positive development for cooperation and solidarity economy. This is where your speculative talents come up. Is there something that has come up that you think, "Oh, this could come out of it, there could be some positive direction.

CT: So talking about it generally, I have been paying attention to progressive media. I've been reading a lot of the progressive newspapers, magazines, and there's a couple of YouTubers I follow that I also Progressive's. And what I've been seeing and what I've been noticing a lot more of, especially among progressive social media and progressive YouTube, is these people are talking more to activists, grassroots activists. They're having more conversations with movement people and asking, how do we create a movement?

And some of this is due to we just came out of an election. I think a lot of people feel like the primaries are over. You know, we've decided who the Democratic nominee is. You know, a lot of people are feeling a little bit disillusioned because they had put their bets on Sanders or they put their bets on some other progressive, and that's not who they're getting.

And this is coming out of 2016 when they were putting a lot of their faith in a revolution as well. And so a lot of these people are talking to union activists and grassroots activists.

And I think we're going to see -- I haven't seen it yet -- but we're going to see people talking to cooperative activists. There's going to be I think there's going to be an uptick in grassroots media. There's going to be a lot more cooperative media. I think that it's going to be both on the nonfiction side and on the fiction side.

MN: That's great.

CT: That's my hope at least.

MN: Yeah, and that's something you're going to be part of, which is kind of cool.

CT: Yeah, I'd like to be, definitely.

MN: All right. I think this is great. Thank you.

CT: You're welcome.




GEO Collective (2020).  Check-in with Cadwell Turnbull:  GEO Check-ins: Coronavirus Edition.  Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO).

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
CAPTCHA This question is to verify that you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam.

What does the G in GEO stand for?