Open Collective
Open Collective
A Collective Diaspora Recap of 2022 (Our First Year!)
Published on January 2, 2023 by Omar Freilla

In this critical first year of ours, the Collective Diaspora Steering Committee developed four key goals to guide our work throughout the year. Our four goals were to: 
  1. Quantify the Black cooperative ecosystem, 
  2. Deepen relationships within the Black cooperative ecosystem, 
  3. Develop programming and pedagogy which supports continued learning about the Black cooperative ecosystem, and 
  4. Mobilize resources to meet organizational needs

In order to fulfill these goals the Steering Committee hired co-founder Omar Freilla over the summer as Interim Coordinator with a directive to coordinate our administrative functions and the development of organizational infrastructure and strategy. As a result, we were able to accomplish the following over the course of 2022.
Building Infrastructure
  • Defined membership criteria and role in governance structure   
  • Established 5 working groups (aka teams) to develop and implement policy and strategy in the following areas: Organizational Structure, Finances & Fundraising; Education & Outreach; Technology; and Membership Development
  • Secured a full-service fiscal sponsor (Open Collective Foundation)
  • Adopted cash flow projection and budgeting tools
  • Developed Goals & Key Performance Indicators for 2022
  • Developed an organizational workplan and workplan for the interim coordinator
  • Adopted a Governance Tracker as an accountability tool to consolidate and monitor all information on scopes and responsibilities, team structures and policy changes
  • Setup collective document management systems, and project management and team communication tools using Google Drive, Asana, Slack and WhatsApp
  • Setup a landing page for and secured the domain
  • Enrolled the interim coordinator and another steering committee member in professional development training programs: Collaborate to Co-liberate by the Nonprofit Democracy Network & the Cooperative Leadership and Certification Program Level 2 by Round Sky Solutions

Quantify the Black cooperative ecosystem
  • Initiated conversations with Black cooperative researchers in the United States and Canada towards the goal of building a global directory of Black cooperatives and Black-led cooperative support organizations
  • Identified Black cooperative researchers in North America, the Caribbean, and Africa
  • Partnered in research proposals with Black cooperative researchers to support the development of a global Black cooperative directory

Deepen Relationships within the Black Co-op Ecosystem
  • Assisted in 2 national convenings of Black cooperatives in the United States and the formation of a US-based association of Black cooperatives known as United Black Cooperators
  • Connected the Cross Atlantic Chocolate Collective to Black cooperatives in the United States by bringing CACC reps to the US for a Black co-op conference in Baltimore, MD; organizing a meeting with Black worker co-op Brooklyn Packers and the Hattie Carthan Farm in NYC. We also connected CACC to a US-based attorney to assist with their incorporation
  • Facilitated an affinity group meeting at the 2022 US Federation of Worker Cooperatives conference for cooperators from marginalized communities

Develop programming and pedagogy which supports continued learning about the Black cooperative ecosystem
  • Profiled Black co-ops, Black-led co-op development organizations, and Black cooperative events on Collective Diaspora social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn)
  • Led two presentations at the US national conference of Black cooperatives: Black Co-op 101 and Continuing Garvey’s Legacy: Building Pan African Cooperation (4/6-8/22)
  • Testified on the importance and impact of Black cooperatives for the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent - 30th public session on children of African descent (5/26/22)
  • Presented on cooperatives as a tool of Black community empowerment for community leaders in Louisville, Kentucky (8/27/22)
  • Launched the “Black Co-ops for Change” series with two webinars promoting Black co-ops focusing on the Cross Atlantic Chocolate Collective (11/13/22) and Solar Uptown Now Services (12/15/22)  

Mobilizing Resources to Meet Organizational Needs
  • Awarded Echoing Green Fellowship (to Omar Freilla for Collective Diaspora)
  • Awarded funding to launch cooperative consulting initiatives through a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to provide technical assistance to The Drivers Cooperative for the formation of a worker cooperative food distribution delivery service using electric trucks in the community of Hunts Point in the Bronx.

We’re looking forward to continued progress towards these goals as we connect Black solidarity economies across the globe.