R|A just held its 6th semi-annual retreat in Atlanta to review the past year and plan for the future. This was our third full year of operations, and overall we felt it was really successful. Let’s review.
We had two major projects this year that provided most of the income and also a few smaller ones. One of the large projects involved helping a food justice organization develop new strategies to grow in the future as they reassess their mission. We may continue working with them next year to further develop some of these ideas. The other principal project was working with a cooperative legal group on evaluating a number of their programs, and this is a multi-year project through 2021.
The other projects included continuing to work with our allies in Atlanta on the campaign to close and repurpose the Atlanta City Detention Center. This year the city agreed to close the jail and stakeholder discussions are ongoing about the future of the facility. We also continued to work with the Union Cooperative Council of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, and we updated our Union Coops pamphlet. Another project we just started, which hopefully will find funding and continue next year, is the development of cooperative education curriculum for students. Some of this work was done pro-bono as we always donate some time for worthwhile projects with groups that don’t have much funding.
We’re also proud to have been members this year of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives and the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives. We want to make more connections throughout the solidarity economy.
Finally, at our retreat, after accounting for all expenses, we democratically discussed what to do with our surplus at the end of this year. We’ll retain some of it for expected expenses next year, and the rest will be paid out to the members. This will include a larger payment to one of our members to assist with their health care costs. This reflects our values of fairness, equity and “to each according to their need.”
Please see our Projects page for more information about our work. If anyone wants to discuss a potential project, please let us know. Moreover, we always want to help others think about forming their own research collectives, and we’re happy to discuss how we started and run ours, so let us know if you want to talk. We’ll see you all in 2020!