What motivated us to start the co-op trail?
The Co-op Trail is about jumpstarting a movement for truly regenerative travel, which entails both an eco-friendly mode of transport as well as operating in a just and sustainable economy. We feel that we're part of larger awakening taking place about environmental and economic justice, and the solidarity economy and the co-op movement are a crucial part to realizing a new future. The Co-op Trail is our attempt to join in this movement by making it more tangible to others who are new to these ideas and want to get to know the sense of scale of this economy.
The core problem we want to solve with the Co-op Trail is that the solidarity economy can feel harder to find and harder to approach than traditional businesses. So we founded the Co-op Trail to blaze a path that physically connects co-ops to each other and to a wider community that wants to interact on a global scale for travelers. We hope that someday this kind of effort will help co-ops see how to fill in the gaps (both physical and logistic) so that more people can transition to operating in the solidarity economy alone.
Why do we believe in the solidarity economy?
This is the story we believe in: That the goodness of people has been what's held the US together, despite the exploitative nature of our economy. Our world would be a better place if we could unleash that goodness and welcome everyone into prosperity. The solidarity economy is an attempt to re-reveal the true values of cooperation, moving them out from the background and back to their central place in a functioning society. We believe the solidarity eceonomy is crucial in bringing our society back into balance.
What is the future vision of the Co-op Trail?
The trail is still in its infancy, but we have a big vision for what it can become. As the solidarity economy fills in across the company, we hope to connect with partner organizations to provide a connected trail of affordable accomodation and resupply stations for travelers. We imagine stops for travelers to recharge their spirits, their legs, and their electric vehicles with renewable energy. Our dream is a parallel tourism economy that works in solidarity with the communities it passes through.
How do we design the trail?
We rely heavily on the Solidarity Economy Map, identity.coop directory and the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives directory to find locations to connect. For larger towns and cities that we were visiting, we would also search for "cooperatives" along with the city name to find other cooperatives not included on those sites. Check out our Resources Page to get more information about all the sources we used. The goal is to continue to flesh out the trail over multiple trips during the next few years. If you have a suggestion for any additional resources you think would be helpful, please send them our way with the form at the bottom of this page.
Who are the Trail Curators?
Anyone can be a Trail Curator! The founding Trail Curators are Claire and Will Stedden, but anyone with an interest in the solidarity economy can join our Hylo group to contribute routes. We want to build as many routes as possible and document all the fantastic work happening in the solidarity economy.