Get Along Co-op: a Strong Foundation of Collaboration, Cooperation, and Love
The Get Along Co-op is a group of friends with a long history of collaboration and cooperation. Consisting of artists, activists, organizers, event producers, small business owners, and educators, Get Along Co-op has a strong foundation of members sharing meals, taking care of each other’s children, supporting each other when they’re sick, and running errands for each other.
“Through one another, we found support to be a positive force in the universe. We share our food, kids, homes, time, cars—whatever resources we have with one another. So we are constantly talking about how to make this process of sharing better, open to others, and something that can be sustained long term, while bringing us happiness and meeting our human needs.”
— Chantelle Bateman
Get Along Co-op also collaborates on activities that have an impact beyond their immediate community, like grassroots fundraiser events, performances, group study sessions, artistic projects, and educational programs. “This community thrives because of its members’ geographic proximity to one another,” said Nehad Khader, Get Along Co-op member. “Eighty-five percent of our community members are renters in a neighborhood that is gentrifying rapidly. We’re concerned that our inability to purchase homes will cause displacement and fracture our ability to be together and collaborate on work that reverberates to broader communities,” she explained. It is this concern that led the group to apply to 20 Book Clubs → 20 Cooperative Businesses.
Get Along joined 20 → 20 to build on their history of collaboration and deepen their cooperation. Their study focuses on creating a housing cooperative and cooperatively-run event space for social justice minded artists, creators, and entrepreneurs to live, work, and play in. They’d like to purchase a small apartment building or adjacent houses to form a co-housing community where members can lead private lives and also participate in a larger community.
Why cooperative housing?
Get Along Co-op member Chantelle Bateman shared a few reasons why the group decided to study cooperative housing:
“Housing is one of the core elements of sustaining our community long-term. Some of us have lived together at different points in time. We are better able to sustain one another when we live near one another. We also have to move a lot because we are the whims of the housing market and gentrification. If we want our community to continue to sustain one another, we are gonna need to plant roots, i.e., buy property. As folks who work from home or own our own businesses, we also need space to work. As current and future parents, we want to insure our kids can grow up together in a space that is supportive and conducive to the values of the people who are responsible to them.”
What is it like to study with Get Along Co-op?
“We really leaned in to what PACA offered in the beginning about how everyone learns differently, so we each show up to the study circle differently. Some of us like to dive into books, have our ears to the ground, or talk to people. At each study circle, we each bring back and share out what we learned.”
— Chantelle Bateman
What have Get Along Co-op members learned so far?
- “People have done this before! This idea is not new or wild. It’s actually feasible.”
- “Cooperative housing takes a lot of time. There are folks who have been studying together for years and maybe haven’t found a home yet.”
- “Shared values, collective vision, and experience cooperating are most important. When talking to other coops, they tell us this is what sustains you, long after you have a physical space to exist inside of.”
- “Building cooperatives is what it looks like to practice your ideals right now today. Thanks to our guest speaker and advisor, David Freed, for the term “practical idealism!” Now we can do what we believe. We need to orient ourselves towards the direction of our ideals right now!”
- “We do not need to be legal, finance, property management experts (we are building relationships with people like David and networks like the EcoVillage Alliance who we can learn from and share with). What we CAN and HAVE to be experts at is being a community, following our process, and having a strong decision making procedure. You really need to know WHY you are doing this and lead with the shared beliefs you have built cooperatively. (Shout outs to the “Start with Why” TED talk for inspiration).”
What’s circling around for Get Along Co-op?
“I am an entrepreneur and intrenpreneur, and being a part of this study circle has really opened my eyes to how to bring in cooperation into other parts of my life, my business, and other business I am engaged in. #allcooperativeeverything”
— Chantelle Bateman
After reading about the history of cooperative housing from a Eurocentric perspective, Get Along Co-op members are excited to revisit and dig into the history of other people building villages and living communally and cooperatively. They also want to look to nature as they dream and design a space, exploring questions like: How do other creatures live communally? And in this modern era, what do cooperative housing structures look like?