Events: Worker Coop Weekend and others


Dates are booked: the event will be on the 25th of October from 1pm until 4pm on the 26th of October. Put it in your diaries!

The event will take place at the Birmingham Midland Institute/BMI, catering from Veggies (workers coop) using the kitchen at the Warehouse (coop), dinner/social will be held at Nortons Digbeth pub on the 25th

Original text:

Hi all,

You may have heard whispers that there is an in-person, event in the pipeline. There are in fact two! And the vision is to have two every year: A tried and tested worker coop weekend event in Spring and another new, strategy-focused event in Autumn

(see below for a more detailed breakdown of the differences)

This decision was taken by the board (since a working group failed to be formed) to do two events to allow for two in-person general meetings a year and two distinct events to cater to different audiences within We are also hoping that lots of local or autonomous meet-ups of members will continue to take place - like what is happening in Scotland.

Planning for Autumn

John and I are currently working on the Autumn event, so here’s an update and a planning document link:

We will be organising a members meeting soon to discuss further, so respond to this post with any comments and queries to get the convocation going.

  • are sponsoring it, which will help keep the event as affordable as possible

We’re looking for/at:

  • People to help with programming and facilitation
  • Venues in central Birmingham
  • Dates in late Oct early, Nov
  • Please let us know which of these two options would suit you best
  • Thursday - Friday
  • Friday - Saturday
0 voters

Breakdown of the differences between the events:

Spring event: Worker Coop Weekend

  • The worker co-op weekend we know and love we expect to continue with.
  • Spring lends itself to a more festival feel, camping and camp-fires, self-catering, self-help, autonomy, more informal agenda.
  • Focus on learning, peer support and political education
  • Given our financial year end is March this also would be good timing for our AGM if we want this in person.
  • Assuming April/May
  • This is likely to be more rural, hard to get to and therefore we expect to be over a 3.5 day weekend

Autumn event: UNNAMED

  • A new event, with a different tone to the WCW, which will try and to fill a different niche.
  • Autumn, lends itself to a more urban/indoor event.
  • No accommodation included, so a location with lots of options nearby, such as a centrally located City.
  • If the AGM is in Spring then the focus on this event should be more about mobilising and organising members to build and deliver on our strategy, so more of a “working event”.
  • But it should still be fun, lots of opportunities to build contacts with other worker co-ops.
  • As nearer the end of the year, an opportunity for an evening celebration of everything done that year.
  • Assuming late Oct, early Nov
  • likely to be a 1.5 days event with a evening celebration in the middle

That’s great to see @Caleb definitely good to have more events, and different types of events as well.

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If possible Co-operative Technologists would like to also use the same venue for the autumn event for a one day CoTech gathering the day before the event, see the CoTech forum thread on this, can this be taken into consideration and would you like some help from CoTech with this?

CoTech has the money to pay for the booking and one of the key things we want to discuss is a proposal that CoTech joins as the IT industrial sector, there was some discussion of this at the last CoTech gathering in Glasgow in November 2022 and there is a Loomio thread on it, to continue to move this forward we probably need a face-to-face discussion followed by a CoTech Loomio proposal and vote, it would be good to get it resolved, one way or another, before the end of 2023.

Thx for letting us know, we can only ask about extending the contract. If not we can alway try and help find another venue nearby so people are in the vicinity

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I think it’s really important we do the Co-Tech event with some overlap with as @chris suggests.
Can we please try to provisionally extend the contract on the venue to the day before ie Wed if Thurs/Fri or Thurs if Fri/Sat- btw which venue has been identified/booked provisionally?
We can reserve the venue with a 4-day booking Wed - Sat and just drop a day when we finalise the dates in the next week or so.

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The BMI is currently holding 3 rooms on the 16th and 17th of November for us. I can email them to see if the 15th is also free?


Yep, looking at Birmingham Central locations within our price range, BMI looks like the best bet, if a bit of a tired venue. If anyone else has ideas for centrally located venues with cheap hotels and other accomodation within 10mins walk let us know.

Yes, please do follow this up with them, thanks!

This sounds great. Really exciting to see the vision for the two different events coming together, thanks for all the thought that’s going into this!

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Feels like I’m the constant voice of gloom at the moment, but…

In sum, I see zero evidence to suggest we have the capacity to pull off both of these events, and do them well.

Do we know that Suma, Unicorn, Essential, etc, will be happy to send their workers to both of these (and provide sponsorship etc to both)?

Do we know if individuals will be able to afford/have the capacity to get to both (as I understand it, volunteers are going to be expected to pay their way for the autumn event).

I’m certainly not going to have the capacity for both and would assume others will be in the same situation. Maybe you’ve asked around, but there’s been no consultation on how people feel about this; certainly feels quite shit for me to read this, because I know I’ll have to miss at least one of them, and it would have been nice to have been asked before this decision was made.

Meeting more than once a year is a grand idea in theory - but only if it works. Right now, i think there’s a danger we either unceremoniously dump WCW at some point down the line when we realsie we dodn’t have capacity, or we push ahead and it flops.

I’d love to be proved wrong - but I’d like to see some evidence, or at least an argument, against my pessimism…

I’m not sure why you think there would be a conspiracy to “dump” WCW. If anything that would be the one we keep if we thought we couldn’t do two.

I think there is space for two big events every year, that cater to different types of people with hopefully a healthy overlap in the middle. We haven’t run a survey on it, but I’ve had a lot of conversation with a lot of different people over the years who don’t engage in the WCW and it would be good to create a more urban/centrally located event for those sorts of people whilst still retaining the WCW for people like me that enjoy that festival feel.

If we were to do hard governance stuff at the event then it would be fair to assume there would be online attendance so no one feels obliged to come to both events.

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CoTech has been having two face-to-face gatherings a year since the first one in November 2016, in fact this year is the first where it looks like we will only have one, if it has worked for CoTech, which has fewer members and less resources I’d have thought that should be able to pull it off…

I don’t think there’s a conspiracy to dump WCW!! I just don’t feel this has been really thought through and that this might be a result, which obviously every one would feel sad about, but that doesnt mean it wouldn’t happen (there was no conspiracy to dump it this year, but it ended up not happening because there just wasn’t the capacity…)

I also think we need to be mindful of what gets inevitably dropped in the process of making these two events happen; there’s been a lot of talk about regular regional events, and again I think these are liable to be unintentionally sidelined.

Chris - I’m not sure how useful that comparison is: Radical Routes has four getherings a year, but it’s a different organisation (and this model of quarterly gatherings leads to huge internal issues of burn-out, stress, and a reduction of capacity elsewhere).

I see the logic - both in terms of more regular meetings, and in terms of creating different spaces that connect with different audiences; so I like the idea in principle. I just feel we keep rushing into things without considering all the options/consequences.

For the record, my argument has always been we should host a WCW which has the Fed as an element of it, as we’ve done with SF and the YCN in the past, for next spring - and if by then we’ve really built sufficient capacity we host an event the following autumn.

In another thread there’s a discussion about failing worker coops, and I think these conversations are very much linked: we keep pushing for more and more things to happen - more events, more coops - without thinking anbout strengthening the underlying infrastructure which can actually sustain that growth.

I think having an event this Autumn is really important, it will be the first event since was established and we need to have a big push to sign-up more workers co-ops at the end of the year / start of 2024 and having a face-to-face event is probably the best way to ensure it is a success, I don’t think we can wait until next spring.

Apologies - I shouldn’t have said this hasn’t been thought through - I’m sure you have thought about it; I just disagree with the conclusion, which is very different. Sorry, bad choice of words.

To play devil’s advocate I don’t think we do need to book a venue in the city centre. Example was stir to action in manchester, was a 25 minute bus ride (even longer cycle) and difficult to get to from anywhere but the city centre, and people still came. To me, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for people to travel 15/20 minutes by bus or bike. For example King’s Heath, Balsall Heath, Moseley, or Stirchley (which is on the national cycle route). Taxi’s are also very cheap (£5/6/7) to these places for people with access needs.

If we want convinience above all else that’s fine. I do also think there is a question about putting money where our mouth is by supporting the types of venues that promote and support cooperation and community focus where that is possible. the new moseley exchange is a good example of that if it’s free but there are others.

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I’m just concerned people getting back to accomodation late at night so something involving getting a bus/taxi into the centre doesn’t seem right if we can choose a venue that people can walk to the local ibis/travelodge etc

Maybe we have a seperate venue in the centre for our Thurs or Friday evening event which would give the flexibility for the day event to be further out?

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Are you suggesting there might be a need for an easy stagger home John?! : ) Either way, we could do day/evening in diff places as you say if it’s not too much. Depends what @leedscath has planned as part of the fun brigade :smirk:

Digbeth (edge of city centre) venue such as Centrala would work really well for an evening event, 12 minute walk to Premier Inn/ Moor Street train station and great space.


We’re going to have an open meeting to discuss the Autumn event this Friday (30th) at 9-10:30am. Come along if you can - Launch Meeting - Zoom


@Caleb Can I check we’re definitely looking at 16/17 Nov now - with Co-Tech the day before? Just want to make sure it’s blocked off and I can start getting some media co-op colleagues on board too.