“Why just workers? Why not owners?” Cooperatives as a Wealth-Building Tool in Communities of Color

Panel

“Why just workers? Why not owners?”

On Thursday, December 5th, 2013, over 40 community members braved the bitter Minnesota cold in order to share their reflections on why the cooperative model is important in communities of color as an asset/wealth building tool in the Twin Cities.

This Issue Series gathered a panel of four, fierce women of color including (pictured from right to left) LaDonna Redmond, Nieeta Presley, Pakou Hang, and Yolanda Cotterall, who shared their respective experiences working with cooperatives in the food justice movement, economic development, and the labor movement.

The event, hosted at Hope Community, Inc., was part of Nexus’ Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) Thursday Night Issue Series, which are free and open to the public and happen once each month from October to March.

Click on the below links to hear each speaker’s segment of the panel. Or click here to view the photo gallery of the event. 

LaDonna Redmond
Founder, Campaign for Food Justice Now
Education & Outreach Coordinator, Seward Co-op

“So this question of access to the market is really a political issue; it is not really about shopping…That’s one element of it, but the real question is can you own it? Can you own the co-op? And because of the cooperative principles, access to ownership is there and available…And that’s the essential question: How much are we willing to pay to become owners of businesses that will lift our communities out of poverty?”

LaDonna Redmond

Nieeta Presley
Executive Director
Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation

We’re talking about long-term; we’re talking about sustainability. We’re talking about futures, so that community folk don’t have to wait for [insert organization] to come along and do what the community knows that it needs. If you have your cooperative in place, and it’s built and it’s around real estate development, you can do your own thing. You can do it based on your members.”

Nieeta Presley

Pakou Hang
Executive Director
Hmong American Farmers Association

“There are institutional barriers against …what we are trying to do, so we have to create institutions themselves to fight against those same institutional barriers. And for me that’s why cooperatives are so important, because they are an institutional structure that allows us to combat some of these larger dynamics.”

Pakou Hang

Yolanda Cotterall
Greater Minnesota Program Director
Latino Economic Development Center

“There were only so many opportunities out there for economic development [for Latinos in rural Minnesota]…They [Latinos] were working as farm laborers, they were working in dairy farms, they were working in the meat-packing plants, they were working in all sorts of low-income jobs, and they were the skill – people – that were doing that work…And we started to look at that and think, ‘Well, why just workers? Why not owners?’”

Yolanda Cotterall

For more information about the BCLI Thursday Night Issue Series, the BCLI, or any upcoming events, please contact the program associate, Ms. Angie Brown, at abrown@nexuscp.org.