The Trail Cooperative is a regenerative travel community. We aim to support our members in their mission to become socially and enviornmentally conscious travelers, contributing to the places they visit through ecological restoration, regenerative agriculture, social justice advocacy, and supporting the solidarity economy. Our goal is to help as many people as possible get access to wilderness adventure while working to collectively minimize our environmental and societal damage. Experiencing the beauty and awe of nature reminds us of our connections to all life on this planet and inspires us all to save it, but traveling in a destructive way is counter productive to this goal. We hope this mission inspires you and that you find that you'd like to join us.
What motivated us to start the Trail Cooperative?
The Trail Cooperative is about jumpstarting a movement for truly regenerative travel, which entails both an eco-friendly mode of transport as well as being more than consumers in the places we visit. We feel that we're part of larger awakening taking place about environmental, social and economic justice, and the Trail Cooperative is our attempt to join in this movement by connecting people and organizations so that we can all find a truly sustainable way for everyone to hit the trail.
The core problem we want to solve with the Trail Cooperative is that its quite difficult to travel and be mindful and conscious of your environmental and economic footprints. So we founded the Trail Cooperative to connect people with opportunities to exercise minimal impact on the environment, while giving back to the communities they visit in a non-exploitative way. We hope that someday this kind of effort will help people see how to fill in the gaps (both physical and logistic) so that more people can transition to operating in a regenerative economy while traveling.
How does the Trail Cooperative work?
By signing up to join the Trail Cooperative you get connected with people all over the world who want to create and explore a better world. You can search the map for places to travel, and find a network of places where you can stay for free and borrow outdoor equipment while you explore new places and give back to the communities you visit.
The Trail Cooperative network fosters informal connections to local groups focused on these and many other aspects of a regenerative ecosystem. In exchange for traveling regeneratively as a part of the Trail, hosts offer housing, food, and borrowing their outdoor equipment to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
How do we give back to the community?
The Trail Cooperative supports a variety of ways to connect to a community in the places you want to explore. We support:
- WWOOFing on organic farms
- promoting cooperatives, nonprofits, sustainability-focused businesses and other components of the solidarity economy
- building new connections to create more opportunities in an area
- ecological restoration and trail maintenance
- contributing to and participating in local social justice and solidarity causes
- other positively impactful ideas that we haven't though of yet!
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 Trail Cooperative?
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 country, 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 mode of electric transport 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, but anyone with an interest in the solidarity economy can join our Discord to contribute routes. We want to build as many routes as possible and document all the fantastic work happening in the solidarity economy.