NASCO provides intensive trainings for leaders and active members of housing co-ops, worker collectives, and other democratically run communities. Resources and tools for engaging co-ops and communities in anti-oppression work are also available on NASCO's website.
NASCO believes that growing a democratic cooperative movement requires an ongoing commitment to examining how power and privilege operate at structural and personal levels. In considering the cooperative principles of "open membership" and "concern for community," anti-oppression education works to dismantle barriers to open membership and bridges the cooperative movement to community issues and injustices. Anti-oppression education can and should be inspiring and engaging!
Over the past 10 years, NASCO has taken a proactive approach to addressing issues of power dynamics in our member cooperatives and within the organization as a whole. Some steps have included...
In 2008, NASCO adopted the following strategic planning goals:
Continuously and critically engage the NASCO Family in anti-oppression education and action in order to grow an inclusive, accessible cooperative movement.
Assist with the development of more co-ops, with an emphasis on underrepresented communities.
Cultivate a broad range of adaptive, accessible educational resources that foster cooperative leadership.
In 2006, NASCO members approved the following additions to the bylaws, ensuring representation from historically marginalized groups within NASCO:
6.46 The Board shall appoint 3 caucus chairs to serve on the board of directors.
6.47 At least three directors shall be persons of color.
Past caucus chairs have included: Action Camp Alum and the Inter-cooperative Council on Privilege and Oppression (ICCoPO)
Most of NASCO's educational programming utilizes popular education techniques that empower members to take agency over the learning process and encourage interactive dialogue.
NASCO Action Camp, an intensive training retreat held each summer between 2005-2009, has spawned anti-oppression initiatives led by NASCO members across the U.S. and Canada.
At the annual Cooperative Education & Training Institute, NASCO:
- Offers a day-long anti-oppression training in partnership with the Highlander Center called the "Cooperative Leadership Track."
- Prioritizes presenters that identify as People of Color, Women, and Transgender.
- Offers caucuses as safer spaces for people with marginalized identities to work through issues together.
- Provides needs-based scholarships to make Institute more affordable.
- Offers a course track entitled "Building Healthy Communities" to more deeply engage members in anti-oppression education.
- Strives to create an accessible environment by providing childcare, wheelchair accessible spaces, free housing, gender neutral restrooms, and more.
NASCO staff and consultants have facilitated workshops in member co-ops on topics such as:
- Introduction to Power and Privilege
- Racial Justice in Co-ops
- Building Community Mental Health Support
- Addressing Gender and Power Dynamics
In order to reach more members and make anti-oppression programming more accessible, NASCO is encouraging members to:
(1) host one-, two-, or three-day regional anti-oppression trainings, also informally known as "mini-action camp"
(2) attend the Cooperative Leadership Track, a day-long training during NASCO Institute weekend (see above)
NASCO staff can provide support for coordinating a training of any length and encourages regional cooperation amongst NASCO members. For training and consulting requests, please contact Liz Anderson at Liz@nasco.coop.