Cooperativism and mutual aid go hand in hand as practices rooted in social solidarity and collective care. Mutual aid has blossomed over the past year to address many of the challenges brought on by the pandemic and has provided a pathway for communities to become more resilient in times of crisis. Many co-op organizations and co-op members, acting under shared cooperative principles and utilizing the skill sets they’ve developed through cooperative work, have taken proactive steps to support co-op members and the communities they are embedded within during the pandemic.
Through this year’s theme, we will spotlight examples of mutual aid networks, inter-cooperative mutual aid organizing, skillshare, and explore how you and your co-op can build and support mutual aid networks near you.
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.
This year Institute will be held virtually. Due to the unsafe travel conditions and limitations on in-person meetings that we anticipate this fall. As an online space, we will be offering workshops and informal networking spaces for co-ops to connect as you would in the halls or over meals at Institute regularly. NASCO Institute this year also has lower registration and we want to encourage co-ops everywhere to consider sending a representative. Travel is no longer a barrier and together we will learn a lot! We look forward to meeting you online! Registration opens September 1st.
The artwork for NASCO Institute 2021 was created by Qynce B. Chumley.
Qynce B. Chumley is a comics artist, painter, and writer living on Potawatomi land, specifically the village of Match-e-be-nash-she-wish and his people, known today as "Kalamazoo," "MI." They like to bake cookies for their local food not bombs chapter, and allegedly do some... other stuff. They live with three lovely people and two lovlier cats at Nimblewill cooperative, which is a part of Kalamazoo Collective Housing, and is a baby house (1.5 years old!) that is substance-free and centers the experiences of queer and trans people. They make art about humans and all the weird, wacky, wonderful, and awful ways that we are and interact with each other. They're currently working on a self-published graphic novel about working class solidarity and young adult angst that will be out in early summer of 2022, and they think you should follow their instagram and/or twitter to keep up with that. They also think you should join the IWW at iww.org and organize your workplace. They also think you're cool and hope you have a really nice day. Also their art is pretty sick and sometimes they even do it for money, so hire them for your project why don't ya?!
Their hope for this illustration is to express the idea that mutual aid is something that cannot be taken away from The People. That mutual aid doesn't belong to institutions, to corporations, or to nonprofits, no matter how badly The Institutions want to consume and corrupt it. Mutual aid is what happens when The People, the human beings that populate this planet that are being exploited by The Institutions, are in trusting and reciprocal relationships with each other and with the land and creatures they live with. The People have always and will always practice mutual aid as a matter of survival, of love, of solidarity. From the beginning to the end of time.
twitter/insta: @qynceb firstname.lastname@example.org
“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."