Cooperation For Liberation Study & Working Group

This listserv is designed to facilitate collaboration and cooperation among community stakeholders for the purpose of discussion, networking, resource sharing, and ongoing capacity building around cooperative economic development strategies in Black communities. It is a communication channel of the Cooperation for Liberation Study & Working Group (Coop 4 Lib).


Coop 4 Lib is an intentional gathering space where we explore, enrich, and exchange insights on the historical and contemporary use of cooperative economic development strategies within Black communities.


Coop 4 Lib is a Black-centered collective from communities actively healing through different forms of oppression. We advance Black liberation by building a worker cooperative to meet cultural and material needs and growing the worker cooperative movement. We exchange knowledge & resources and foster space for community, joy, and solidarity.


To realize the dreams of our Black ancestors and carry on their radical tradition by imagining and shaping a world that embraces the collective wellness of the Earth and all living beings. We speak to the future where our communities thrive economically, spiritually, creatively, and culturally through self-determination.


In the spring of 2018, Coop 4 Lib launched as a reading group which began intentionally analyzing and mapping the ideas of Dr. Jessica Gordon-Nembhard's "Collective Courage" on the role of cooperative strategies in the history of Black organizing and the Black Radical Tradition. We later followed this text with two others ("Jackson Rising" by Kali Akuno and Ajamu Nangwaya & "The Next American Revolution" by Grace Lee Boggs) before recently embarking upon an internally facilitated adaptation of "Collecting Ourselves: A Cooperative Entrepreneurship Curriculum" by Northcountry Cooperative Foundation. During the course of our development, we deliberately shifted from study group to working group picking up co-facilitation assistance along the way from within Chicagoland's cooperative ecosystem to fill the gaps in our own shared knowledge. We are continuing to use this curriculum study to shape our ideas on the contemporary use of cooperative strategies in today's Black organizing landscape. The culmination of this work will be the launch of a new cooperative endeavor in conjunction with a targeted community in the city where community outreach proves most fruitful for our efforts.


Coop 4 Lib hosts general public meetings bi-weekly on Sundays from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm and the most up to date meeting information is distributed via the calendar reminders sent out through the listserv. You are invited to attend one of these regular public gatherings to build your cooperative acumen or gain more information. Our sessions offer a robust mix of deeper study of cooperative operations and governance; role playing functions within a cooperative to test decision options within a cooperative environment; and bringing in guest facilitation to fill gaps in our knowledge about specific elements of cooperative organizing and development.


Our current structure is informal and consensus based with a core planning team coordinating strategic decisions and subcommittees tasked with building out specific programmatic areas within the Working Group.


Coop 4 Lib has empowered the following committees to develop functions and make decisions around specific programmatic areas which include the following:

  • Development
  • Outreach/Organizing
  • Facilitation
  • Culture-Arts-Movement (CAM)


New participants can acclimate themselves to unique approach of Coop 4 Lib to cooperativism, a solidarity economy framework, and aligned social movements by visiting the resources below. We acknowledge that the history of racism and racial capitalism have are intertwined with all social critique in the US and that the mainstream practice of cooperatives and a solidarity economy have not escaped this impact. Our approach to cooperatives and solidarity economy are entangled with the Black liberatory tradition, histories of resistance, and radical imagination. 

"Building a Cooperative Solidarity Commonwealth" by Dr. Jessica Gordon-Nembhard

"Here's How We Prepare To Be Ungovernable In 2017" by Sarah Lazare

"The Good Money Issue" by Yes! Magazine

"The Case for Reparations" by Ta-Nehisi Coates

"The Case for Reparations" (Audio) by Ta-Nehisi Coates

"Collective Courage" by Dr. Jessica Gordon-Nembhard

"Jackson Rising" by Kali Akuno and Ajamu Nangwaya

"The Next American Revolution" by Grace Lee-Boggs


Our most recent undertaking has been internally reviewing and facilitating an adapted version of Northcountry Cooperative Foundation's publication "Collecting Ourselves: A Cooperative Entrepreneurship Curriculum". While the curriculum proves somewhat imperfect for our needs, it has been a skeletal framework on which we can build new examples and supplement with case studies that better reflect the experiences of the populations we serve. To archive the entire process, we have employed Dropbox Paper as a multimedia presentation tool for session agendas which can also be linked and referenced for later review.

Cooperation 101

Coops As Tools

Using Coops

Pause & Reflect

Demystifying Development

Demystifying Development Revisited

What's Your Process?

What's Your Process? Revisited

Organizing Your People

Organizing Your People Revisited

Deciding How We Decide

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