The Very First Oakland Co-op DiscoTech

A summary of our May Day barn-raiser, with 17 images

Evangeline asked why people get involved in co-ops, and then drop it.

So many people inside on a beautiful May Day! / photos by Jackie Mahendra

How can technology build a co-op economy?

This is the question that motivated Co-op DiscoTechs. And because it was May Day, we started by talking about co-ops and the labor movement.

  • Online organizing is a digital approach to social change, trying to achieve community power. An example is, a group running rapid-response campaigns for racial justice. What’s missing? Platforms that support lasting effort with multiple allies.
  • The co-op movement is about democracy in the workplace, trying to achieve real ownership, control, and value for the people doing the labor. An example is the Arizmendi Association, an umbrella group supporting six worker-owned bakeries. It’s a model that only the Enspiral network has replicated in New Zealand. What potential remains untapped here? Widespread relevance.
Vikram Babu (2nd from right) shares his nuanced views on tech labor / photo by Molly McLeod


Here’s what we did:

Maria talks about DIG’s current culture, upcoming merger, and 11th year of growth / photo by Molly McLeod
  1. Participants ask clarifying questions (no comments/ideas)(15min)
  2. Everyone shares ideas, proposals, etc. for making progress (25min)
  3. Facilitator synthesizes a synopsis to share back with everyone (10min)
photos by Danny Spitzberg

But wait, there’s more!

Finally, everyone shared ideas for the next event. Here are a few:

  • Get to know who’s in the room
  • Special guest speakers and small group talks (“office hours”)
  • Education on select topics (how might co-ops do rapid decision-making?)
  • Creating shared language around co-op entities (what is a co-op, really?)

Special thanks

User researcher for a cooperative economy · Freedom through simple tools and co-ops

User researcher for a cooperative economy · Freedom through simple tools and co-ops