Cooperatives have long embodied self-help and mutual aid. This year’s theme, Cooperate Locally, will encourage us to take a look at how we have built cooperatives with and for our whole community. This theme will delve into the hard work of grassroots organizing as well as the mindfulness it takes to co-create with existing neighborhoods when starting a new cooperative. All over North America, there are pockets of cooperation that collectively we recognize as the cooperative movement.
Who are we?
Since 1968, North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) has been working with housing co-ops, students, worker-owners, activists, and community members who are interested in applying cooperative principles to meet their needs and fulfill their missions. We are the network that facilitates mutual aid and support amongst co-ops.
Inter-Cooperative Council of Austin and College Houses
College Houses was formed in 1964 as a UT student government project with funding from the Hogg Foundation. The original vision was to create a housing facility for students that was vibrant and intellectually stimulating. In 1973, a HUD grant allowed College Houses to purchase its first two buildings on Pearl Street and property to construct a third building W. 21st Street. College Houses transitioned from leasing to owning the buildings and adopted the cooperative housing model, which gives house members full democratic control over their living environment as well as the skills to manage the facilities. Since then College Houses has grown tremendously and serves 750 students each year in our seven co-ops located near the University of Texas campus.
Inter-Cooperative Council of Austin was incorporated in 1970, with roots dating back to the 1930’s, ICC Austin has a dynamic and rich history. Past members worked hard to build the organization we have now and we continue to cooperate on behalf of our future members. The purpose of ICC Austin, a Texas non-profit corporation, is to create a mutually beneficial, diverse, and inclusive community so as to promote the transformation of society toward cooperation, justice, and non-exploitation. To achieve this vision, ICC Austin provides housing to students, primarily those who might otherwise be unable to afford it, on a cooperative basis, in an environment that enhances member education, encourages the formation of long lasting communities, and fosters responsible citizenship.
“We found the conference to be very beneficial for our small community-based co-op, especially from a financial perspective. We learned so much about strategies for being a smaller worker co-op, with a focus on membership and trust-building.”
“I can't put into words how valuable the educational experience is at NASCO Institute. You get to learn about things that you know you want to know for your co-op and then there are other, newer ideas presented to you. And the networking is priceless.”
“NASCO Institute gave me skills and concrete actions plans for anti-oppression work in my own community, as well as ideas/skills/contacts for creating new worker-owned co-ops and housing co-ops."