On November 11, we coordinated a Detroit Co-op Tour for participants of the 2016 NASCO Institute.
We were met with a diverse group of students and cooperative members from all over the US (mainly UCLA, Boston, and Florida) with a few friends from Toronto as well. The tour was sold out with 33 people attending.
We met at Avalon Village in Highland Park first and listened to founder Shu Harris speak on her vision as it becomes realized with the renovations on the homework house, solar roofing, cobb constructed outdoor classroom, basketball courts, and shipping container co-op market place build-out. She shared her plans with the group, graciously took questions. and we shared lunch from the FoodLab-incubated catering co-op Fresh Corner Cafe in Jakobi Ra Park.
Next we visited the newest Soulardarity street light install near Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe. We talked about community power and energy advocacy as well as the Highland Park initiative. Then we met with Jerry Hebron at Oakland Ave. Urban Farm. She gave the history of the farm, as well as the new initiatives happening including seed saving, tea-making, and we witnessed the holiday flavor of Afrojam being created in the kitchen. We went over to Detroit Poetry Society work house next, saw their renovation process, spoke with Gabby Knox on the vision and their process of cultural preservation and maintaining space to stabilize their block.
We then traveled to Talking Dolls, saw the print shop in action, and spoke with Rob and Pharoah about the space, their transition into cooperative ownership, and their newest service of shipping fulfillment for clients. Lastly we arrived at Data Driven Detroit and talked with Erica Raleigh about data for community empowerment and their transition to worker ownership.
One woman visiting from Dudley Street Initiative commented that she was so happy to know of all of the hyperlocal, positive movement by people of color in Detroit, and that she has never gotten this narrative before. Let us continue to build and support one another so that the cooperative ecosystem in Detroit is the dominant narrative. Appreciation to us all.