Three representatives from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) visited with Our Harvest worker-owners, board members and regional politicos at Bahr Farm in October. UCS is a bi-partisan organization applying scientific principles of sharing information, seeking truth, and letting findings guide conclusions. One of their areas of focus is Food and Agriculture. They connected with Phil Amadon, a founder and board member of Our Harvest, at an event last summer which led to the invitation to visit OHC at Bahr Farm. Their visit occurred on a beautiful October day in Cincinnati, where a tour of the farm led to a brainstorming session about the next farm bill (4 years from now) and what help and inclusion would look like for small farm operations like OHC. We ended the visit with a delicious dinner on the farm, and agreed to stay connected and look for collaborative opportunities in the future.
Sarah van Gelder, co-founder of Yes! Magazine and author of "The Revolution Where You Live," hung out with Renting Partnerships team at one of our Avondale units and introduced her to our new partners in another Cincinnati neighborhood with Cal Cullen from Wave Pool & The Welcome Project building community through a refugee and community art center.
Our Harvest Cooperative was recently awarded $30,000 from Mainstreet Ventures which funds local startups that have good ideas but and provide grants to support their long-term success.
This has been a whirlwind few months for CUCI. But there is a lot to celebrate!
We completed a report for the Preschool Promise on how to raise wages in the childcare sector in Cincinnati.
We partnered with New Prospect Baptist Church on our first Fall Forum to engage the Cincinnati community around cooperative work locally, with special guest speaker Sarah van Gelder.
Flequer Vera, co-founder of CUCI and Sustainergy Co-op was elected to the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives board.
We partnered with MORTAR and were selected as one of 6 pilot cities to bring a localized version of Transform Finance's flagship training institute that will "will catalyze discussions and actions around how capital flows for communities, prioritizing the amplification of social justice leaders’ voices and expertise." Coming in February of 2019!
Several CUCI staff also attended the Working World's peer loan fund retreat and are processing our first loans to our co-ops.
We have just begun our 2nd round of our co-op incubator, Co-op U.
Later this month you will have an opportunity to become a partner in this work with us by becoming a Sustaining Partner or signing up for payroll deductionswith select workplaces through Community Shares giving! And we really hope to see the local folks at our Annual Creating an Economy that Works for all Celebration on Nov 29th!
This month Our Harvest was excited to fully transition the food hub coordinator position from our interim staff, Maria Dienger, to Zeke Coleman. With his deep knowledge of Our Harvest's packing and delivery operations and his sales relationships and experience he has built up as a worker-owner over the last five years, we are excited to see what he can bring to the food hub coordinator position.
Additionally, Our Harvest welcomed back Amy Schreiner to the food hub team! She worked with Our Harvest when it was just a baby and now she is back after having a few babies of her own.We are grateful to have her back in the Our Harvest family!
In other news, Our Harvest has rolled out new Weekly Harvest Box pick-up sites. Cincinnati Children's Hospital and the Gaiser Bee Company out of Cincinnati's Monfort Heights neighborhood. Cincinnati Children's Hospital has been working with us through their Concierge Services program, which was introduced to provide services to employees with the intention of saving them time and providing peace of mind. The Gaiser Bee Company is a local food producer and fit right in with our mission of providing fresh local food that honors land and labor. They have their own property called the Gaiser Urban Farm where they sell their local honey, teach beekkeeping classes, sell bees and educate about the importance of protecting and sustaining our bee populations!
One of the best ways to support Our Harvest Cooperative and the larger local food system in Cincinnati is to sign up for the Weekly Harvest Box at one of their 15 locations: ourharvest.coop/weekly-harvest-box/.
Sustainergy is proud to welcome our newest member to both the team and the path to worker ownership!
Hailing all the way from Honduras, Yovany Gonzales will be bringing his years of expertise and hardworking spirit to our fight to make the area's homes more comfortable while also lowering energy bills, one home at a time.
The biggest impact in insulation is easily injection foam. Most people don't realize their walls are hurting their homes. A whopping 35% of energy is lost through your walls! Our expert technicians can fix this and save you $500+ annually!
We've been providing injection foam for walls for a little while now, and the results are in! People are blown away by how effective our injection foam is. The foam completely fills your walls, with zero settling. It fills places other insulation products can’t—spaces behind electrical and phone wires, pipes, electrical outlets, and other areas—for maximum efficiency.
All the work can be done from the outside in many homes! Click the link below to set up a free assessment to see if injection foam is right for you.
Sustainergy has a solution for every part of your home, for every season.
You may have seen us at Northside's 4th of July Parade or Rock 'n' Roll Carnival with our "nests." We were sharing the good news that construction financing is coming into place.
This means that NEST (Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation) will soon take over as owners of the former Save-a-Lot and we will be able to get bids for construction to start!
We shared more good news at the our Volunteer Meeting on July 17th, including our official membership in AWG, a food supplier co-op that will make it possible for us to offer a wide range of high-quality foods at different price points, including prices competitive with the big discount chains.
Working with AWG and local outlets like Our Harvest is how Apple Street Market will create a successful market that is designed for the unique needs of our neighborhoods. If you missed it, you can find our presentation at https://www.applestreetmarket.coop/
We are excited to begin the next phase of our capital campaign, which will help us raise the capital we need for operating costs. We need all of our supporters to join us to make this campaign a success.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors and Wells Fargo awarded Gem City Market and the Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative (GDUCI) the 2018 CommunityWINS (Working/Investing in Neighborhood Stabilization) grant. The grant is awarded to nonprofits that work to promote long-term stability and a better quality of life for their community. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley accepted the grant on behalf of GDUCI, saying, "We are thrilled that Gem City Market was selected for this award. The market will be an important asset for northwest Dayton, ensuring that residents have access to healthy food and other critical service. Their innovative model of community ownership will make sure that Dayton residents benefit from the market's success."
When it opens in 2019, Gem City Market will be a full-service, worker- and community-owned grocery store.
We're busy designing the Apple Street Market Teaching Kitchen!
One of our goals is to make the preparation of healthy, delicious meals inexpensive and convenient through education.
Our designers and General Manager have been meeting with the Director of the Nutrition Council and staff from CAIN and OSU Extension to design the layout, determine equipment needs, and discuss plans for programming.
Our teaching kitchen program will be a public facility for these organizations and others such as the Northside Farmer’s Market, Happen Inc., and Working in Neighborhoods to conduct their existing cooking programs as well as programs organized by Apple Street Market and our partners. Programs will focus on inexpensive, nutritious, culturally appropriate, and easy to prepare meals.
Among our hopes for the program are to have classes that:
- reflect current culinary trends
- promote local and seasonal foods
- make preparing meals at home fun
- emphasize cultural traditions of the residents of the Ohio River Valley
- utilize ingredients available at Apple Street Market
- help customers get the most out of benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and Women, Infants, & Children programs
Our Harvest's Weekly Harvest Box program is a convenient way to bring fresh, local food to you, your family, and your gatherings! And you can support a worker and community owned co-op at the same time!
This is a perfect time of year to sign up for Our Harvest’s Weekly Harvest Box program. The weather is warm and our local farms in and around Cincinnati are growing bounties of fresh, crisp and delicious produce! Taste the difference in your summer salad when you know the local farm it came from and how your tomatoes were grown.
We have many convenient weekly pick-up locations for you to choose from around Greater Cincinnati when you sign up for your Weekly Harvest Box. We offer a small, medium, and large box size to meet the needs of everyone from individuals to large families, those hosting the summer gatherings, and everyone in between. Sign up here to start receiving fresh, local produce in June! Take a look at our farms to learn about the wonderful people and places your produce will come from!
Harvest Box Sizes
Small: $12/week (4 items)
Medium: $20/week (8 items)
Large: $28/week (12 items)
We also offer other locally made food products, ranging from eggs to honey and beef to cheese.
More Perks with Our Harvest:
- Our user-friendly website allows you to make changes to your order and put your box on hold when you go out of town!
- Weekly add-ons to tailor your box to your liking
- Weekly payment options are available
A full list of pick-up locations is available on our website.
Apple Street Market officially became an owner in Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) and has made progress on funding for acquiring the site for Apple Street Market.
Apple Street Market made our relationship with AWG official. AWG is the nation's largest supplier of wholesale food to independently-owned grocery stores, and they are unique in that they are a cooperative food wholesaler—that is, the stores AWG wholesales to are owners of AWG. Because AWG is a retailer-owned cooperative, not only do they provide stores like Apple Street with the lowest cost of goods every day, but Apple Street also gets a share of their profits.
The City's Economic Development and Law Departments have drafted a funding agreement for the acquisition and remediation of 4145 Apple Street by Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation (NEST), our Northside nonprofit developer. We expect to hear any day now that the city has also provided NEST with a promissory note for the acquisition and remediation of our future home! Meanwhile we're finalizing our plans for the teaching kitchen and store equipment, so we're ready to go once NEST gets site control. Our bid date is determined by how fast the building gets transferred to NEST and how fast the New Market Tax Credits are distributed.
Sustainergy has something in common with the weather: things are heating up! We're excited about helping people beat the heat, while reducing their carbon footprint! We're looking at record heat this summer so in response Sustainergy is offering friends of CUCI a free infrared camera assessment of your home ($150 value).
Proper home insulation and sealing are not just for the winter. With heat comes humidity and with humidity comes mold. We offer mold remediation as well. Sustainergy has a solution for every part of your house, for every part of the year.
CUCI is partnering with Tech Solidarity, a group of tech workers out of Silicon Valley that are putting their skills to good work on progressive projects throughout the country. Tech Solidarity has chosen CUCI—and more specifically, Care Share, one of our childcare projects—as the main nonprofit that they are supporting.
A contingent from CUCI traveled to Silicon Valley on May Day to help tech workers think through how they can structure their tech companies and startups as co-ops. We were also able to recruit volunteers for our childcare project.
Right now CUCI has one Care Share group that's up and running: a group of four families each paying $7/hour per child who have hired a caregiver as an employee for $17/hour with benefits to care for and educate their children for 40 hours per week in one of the parents’ homes. We have been able to expand access to personalized care while still paying the provider a living wage, and now we are working to scale the model. Volunteers of Tech Solidarity will each spend a week in Cincinnati collaborating with CUCI to develop a web platform that helps parents connect with one another to form a Care Share.
Be on the lookout for this exciting app and more information about how you can start your own Care Share group!
On Wednesday, May 16, the Gem City Market announced its new location plans and capital campaign kickoff. A brief press conference was held with former Congressman, Ambassador Tony Hall, to announce big news for the future of Dayton's first worker and community-owned cooperative grocery store.
Those present included member-owners, hunger organization representatives, financial donors, and community leaders, along with future neighborhood customers who will benefit most from the availability of affordable and nutritious food in the area.
The Gem City Market will be a vibrant, community-centered, full-service grocery store located in one of Ohio’s largest food deserts along the Salem Avenue corridor, near downtown Dayton. The store will feature affordable, quality kitchen staples, including well-stocked fresh produce, meat, and bakery departments currently lacking in the target area. Specialty, local, and organic products will also make the market a unique draw. The Gem City Market will be different from a typical grocery store as it will be owned by its workers, customers, and supporters from the community.
The Market's annual bingo fundraiser is happening this Friday with a $1,000 grand prize and many more fun prizes and games! To sweeten the pot, the local sustainability organization, Green Umbrella, awarded Apple Street a refrigeration grant:D
We are so excited to welcome the talented, Andrés Contreras, to our CUCI team to work on financial analysis for business creation and conversions! Learn a little about him.
At this time when wealth inequality and divisive politics threaten the fabric of the US, over 200 people from across the US (and as far away as the UK, Argentina, and Australia,) gathered together for the third biennial Union Co-op Symposium in Cincinnati in December, an event characterized by hope, solidarity, and practical ways of responding to this challenge. The theme was Stand up to Inequality and Build Worker-Owned Co-ops .
Our keynote speaker, Isabel Uribe, who worked in Mondragon’s premier co-op incubator Saiolan, challenged us to tackle the challenge of combating wealth inequality by stepping up our efforts and strategies to broaden the cooperative movement as we combine forces with other movements. She discussed how hard it is, how immense the challenge, how important commitment and solidarity are. She offered Fr. Arizmendiarrieta’s powerful words of wisdom to reflect on:
- Ideas divide us, needs unite us
- In order to advance, one needs to transform oneself
- To get off the narrow path, open your heart
- To have abundance build community
She reminded us of Leonard Cohen’s words, “There is a crack in everything. . . that’s how the light gets in.” She encouraged us to be that light. This deeply unequal society can’t continue this way forever. How can we create more cracks? Let more light in?
The Mondragon Cooperative network, which today employs more than 70,000 people in over 100 co-ops, came to life in a particular moment when the Basque country of Spain was cut off from the outside world by Spain’s fascist dictator Franco. The transformative Mondragon experience, begun at a time of overwhelming devastation and poverty, has led to thriving communities that enjoy levels of equality higher than the majority of the world as measured by the GINI coefficient (a measure of inequality). We are living in our own moment. Isabel underscored the importance of adapting and evolving the lessons of the Mondragon experience to our cultural context.
The 2-day conference explored some ways the resilient Mondragon model is being adapted within the US context. Four key features of the Mondragon experience that have helped them thrive: 1) Mondragon Co-op businesses are not isolated entities, they are part of a network, a family of co-ops that share resources. 2) As individual Mondragon co-ops grow in size, they add a social council to their co-ops, a defined space where disputes are resolved,workers offer input, information flows freely. 3) Education is at the foundation. Mondragon has its own university which developed from a polytechnic school founded by Fr. Arizmendiarietta. 4) The ten Mondragon principles form an important anchor and guide.
In the U.S. we are experimenting with these key features, developing networks of co-ops as well as bringing the Social Committee into being in co-ops through the mechanism of the Union Committee. Currently, a community college Co-op Development Curriculum is being piloted and the Worker Owner Workbook developed by Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative is used weekly at team meetings and will soon be widely available.
The largest union worker-owned co-op in the United States, Cooperative Homecare Associates in the Bronx, preceded the historic agreement in 2009 by Mondragon International and the United Steelworkers to launch union co-ops in the United States. At the symposium, the former CEO for 16 years Michael Elsas and Keith Joseph from SEIU 1199 described the slightly challenging process of originally organizing the co-op with a union, the power of the labor-co-op combo, and how their labor management committee works and strengthens their effectiveness as a co-op (very similar to Social Council or Union Committee).
Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative was the first to bring to life a Mondragon-style Union Co-op, but excitingly the LA Union Co-op Initiative, the Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative, and Vital Brooklyn all are bringing this model into being in their areas. Individual union co-ops have come into being in many regions. From the Maine lobsterman to the Denver taxi drivers, people and unions are experimenting. Following the symposium, new areas of the country are asking for support in forming union co-op networks. The symposium kicked off a year-long process to create a more formalized membership structure for the national organization 1worker1vote.org (which, that), together with Mondragon International North America, is building a national network of unionized worker-owned cooperative businesses to overcome inequality of opportunity, mobility, and income.
The symposium was an embodiment of hope with a diverse group of people from over 60 cities and towns, and representation from over 20 labor unions. Solidarity was the name of the game as people connected with one another, sharing their resources, wisdom, support, and advice in practical sessions geared to helping projects move forward. (Phil Amadon, a co-founder of CUCI, commented on the spirit of solidarity throughout the event, noting in particular the respect he was shown as he dealt with Parkinson’s attacks.)
The event showcased innovations that union co-op groups are experimenting with including:
- an adaptation of a Search Fund model to tap new talent pools, capital pools, and to increase worker ownership through a Worker Owned Leveraged Buy Out model tailored to manufacturing and industrial service companies with around 5 million in revenues
- an innovative approach to rental housing created by Renting Partnerships which promotes community and builds wealth ; residents participate in managing their housing, and build financial credits as well as relationships as they meet operating goals. The housing is kept permanently affordable through a social investment vehicle that enables investment in communities without leading to gentrification.
- The Financial Cooperative anchored by the CDFI, the Working World, that leverages their financial infrastructure to allow local groups to develop local loan funds and wrap-around technical support to co-ops.
It was a special two days filled with energy, hope, and new possibilities. During the closing, small groups made concrete commitments to advance the union co-op movement. According to an article in the Nonprofit Quarterly, “This conference marked a watershed of sorts, as the union co-op idea is increasingly seen by both union and co-op activists as a vehicle for community transformation."
WE DID IT!!!! Cincinnati City Council voted unanimously to approve NEST'S (Northside's community development corporation's) funding to acquire 4145 Apple Street.
We are so excited to welcome long-time activist Christina Brown (left in picture) to our CUCI team to work on childcare organizer! Learn a little about her.