TruthToTell Monday, April 28- 9AM: MINNESOTA COOPS: 80 years and Start of People-Powered Ownership - AUDIO PODCAST HERE

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On-air date: 
Mon, 04/28/2014
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Call and join this conversation – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us @TTTAndyDriscoll or post on TruthToTell’s Facebook page.



This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party’s Cooperative Commonwealth Platform—the boldest vision for a new society every adopted by a successful American political party. What made the platform more than a utopian fantasy was the daily experience of thousands of Minnesotans who were busy building cooperatives across the length and breadth of our state.

By 1935, Minnesota could boast 2,886 consumer coops with a combined membership of 531,180, the most in the nation. Notable is the Rural Electrical Coop system to deliver electricity to otherwise energy-deprived farm operations.

Today, the cooperative movement remains strong in Minnesota, even if the vision of social transformation isn’t as wide-spread as it was in the 30’s.The most obvious example is the remarkable growth of food coops. Of special note is the expansion of Seward Coop and Mississippi Market to serve lower income and more ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

But there is more to the cooperative movement than food coops – and not all entirely benign. Massive energy distributor and producer cooperatives have often stepped into the corporate model of governance and less transparent, not to mention questionable huge coop owners.

Land-O-Lakes, CENEX, Twin Cities Milk Producers, whose products may be quality competitive, but not always the most affordable and often have been allowed by state agencies to run roughshod over farmlands with dairy, corn and livestock “cooperative” producers not always operating the public interest environmentally and open governance.

And yet! Credit unions, senior housing, health care, and the hardware purchasing coops that make the small-town independent hardware store possible, are all part of a larger and not always well understood story.

TTT’s TOM O’CONNELL and SIOBHAN KIERANS explore the dynamic growth of coops in Minnesota and do some forward thinking about the potential - and challenges – the state and the movement itself faces the future.

On-air guests: 

LADONNA REDMOND, Co-Director, Agriculture and Justice (HECUA), Education and Outreach Coordinator, Seward Coop; Student of the African-American cooperative tradition and veteran of the food justice movement.

JILL LIVINGSTON, Capitalization Specialist with Seward Coop, Friendship Store Project organizer.


DAVE GUTKNECHT, Editor, Cooperative Grocer; and pioneer in the Twin Cities food cooperative movement.

JOAN STOCKINGER, development specialist with Cooperative Development Services, and co-author with Dave Gutknecht of a recently released case study of the cooperative local food system.

AND YOU! Call and join this conversation – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us @TTTAndyDriscoll or post onTruthToTell’s Facebook page.