Everything Co-ops Host, Vernon Oakes interviews Rodney North, Cooperative Consultant, and member of the DC Cooperative Stakeholders Group
19 months ago by Vernon_Oakes
Everything Co-op Vernon Oakes Rodney North Community Stakeholders Group How Co-ops Strengthen Neighborhoods


Everything Co-ops Host, Vernon Oakes, interviews Rodney North, Cooperative Consultant, and member of the DC Cooperative Stakeholders Group. Vernon and Rodney discuss events and initiatives of the Stakeholders Group, their upcoming workshop, “How Co-ops Strengthen Neighborhoods,” and the DC Anchor Partnership.

Rodney North has spent more than two decades in co-ops, helping co-ops, or advocating for the co-op model, and  usually was doing all three at the same time. Today Rodney is consultant to cooperatives, and an active member of the DC Cooperative Stakeholders Group. This is a group of local people and institutions who have been meeting for the last six months - thanks to support from the city's Department of Small and Local Business Development - to explore ways to strengthen and support co-ops in the city. The city is supporting this effort because business cooperatives are one thread in the city's overall economic development strategy. 

Before returning to the DC area in 2015 Rodney spent 20 years as part of Equal Exchange - one of the nation's largest, most successful, and influential worker-owned cooperatives. You may know Equal Exchange for its brand of organic Fair Trade coffee, chocolate or other foods. But it is also a $65 million dollar enterprise 100% owned and controlled by the 150 men and women who work there. Rodney held many roles there: Vice chair of the board of directors, worker-owner, staff trainer and other leadership positions. But he was best known as The Answer Man.  He was called the Answer Man for many reasons, but especially because so often when people - inside or outside the co-op -  needed answers Rodney was there to help, drawing on his many years of experience and his wide knowledge of the issues that mattered to Equal Exchange, its customers and it the thousands of farmers that supplied his co-op.


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