As social organizations, cooperatives experience the intimate nature of everyday democracy, and this can often be difficult. The close relationships and accountability inside co-ops expose underlying tensions between people while amplifying the inequities embedded in systems of oppression. Nevertheless, cooperatives foster amazing opportunities to address polarizing conflicts by embracing anti-oppression and collective liberation. When co-op members are encouraged to show up with honesty and directness, engaged co-op leaders can bring together divergent opinions and diverse experiences to deal with disagreement constructively.
Esteban Kelly Executive Director of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) and a co-founder and worker-owner at AORTA Co-op (Anti Oppression Resource & Training Alliance) will guide a workshop on what matters for healthy cooperatives to thrive. He will share strategies for applying anti-oppressive principles to culturally appropriate formal and informal co-op communication. After exploring the various roles that we each hold in a dispute and discussing techniques for resolving disagreement while fully acknowledging power dynamics, we will learn how to move from conflict to common ground.