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Co-Cycle Visits Madison

On August 6th, a swarm of sweaty cyclists descended upon CUNA Mutual Group's corporate headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin, where they were welcomed by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, as well as members of the press and leaders from Madison's co-op community. For over two months, they had traveled by bike--from San Francisco north to Portland then over the Rockies and on to the Upper Midwest. The group of riders represented Co-Cycle, a youth-led, bike-powered tour linking cooperatives across the United States. Through workshops, co-op visits, and public events across the country, Co-Cycle hoped to educate themselves on the cooperative model and facilitate connections with and between cooperatives in the communities they visited.

The idea for Co-cycle emerged from a group of students at Hampshire College. It quickly spread to a larger group of students who have diverse academic backgrounds and personal passions but overlapping interests in cycling and the cooperative business model. Most importantly, they all shared a desire to learn and teach others about why cooperatives are a useful model for addressing some of the world's most complex social, economic, and environmental challenges.

Co-Cycle's three-day stay in Madison included tours of ten co-ops, an official proclamation from the City of Madison designating the week of August 6-10 Co-Cycle Week, and a lively farewell party with food, music, locally brewed beer, and the signing of MadWorc's articles of incorporation.

Rider Riko Fluchel reflected on Co-Cycle's time in the Upper Midwest:

"The past few weeks have been peppered with many busy but tremendous occasions: from seeing all these cooperatives in one space together in multiple towns and cities as they connect and organize; having the pleasure of presenting the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives’ endorsement of legislation to increase the lending cap of credit unions to 27.5% to the Credit Union National Association; and consequently, Mayor Soglin of Madison declaring August 6-10th ‘Co-Cycle Week’ in Madison.

All of this this has given us a sense of success—indeed, it is already so much more than we could have imagined when we were planning and organizing throughout the fall and winter. We are giving co-ops an occasion to talk to each other, organize together, and strengthen themselves, each other, and therefore the overall movement. This is perhaps best exemplified in Madison, where we witnessed the signing of articles to make MadWorc, previously merely a network of cooperatives in Madison, into an actual cooperative of cooperatives."

On September 1st, Co-Cycle arrived in Amherst, Massachusetts thereby completing their 4,000-mile journey. A group of students from New York University documented the ride and will be producing a film chronicling Co-Cycle's journey and highlighting the importance of dedication, innovation, and teamwork in achieving a thriving cooperative economy and ultimately a sustainable future.

For more information about Co-Cycle, visit http://www.co-cycle.coop


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