Cooperative Design Lab (CDL) is 9-month cooperative development program serving cooperative projects in any stage of formation. Originally a collaborative between the Resilience Hub, Cooperative Fermentation, and Cooperative Development Institute, Design Lab is now in its second year running and is the only program of its kind offered in the Northeast.

In CDL, participants will gain the knowledge, skills and capacity to start, operate, lead, and enliven a cooperative project. Through the course, participants will:

  • Go through a step-by-step process to make a cooperative project happen

  • Discern appropriate organizational structures for their project

  • Learn tools for cooperative leadership and management

  • Connect to mentors, coaching and technical assistance

  • Explore the role of cooperatives in building a resilient economy


Cooperative Design Lab is structured with three intensive weekends and a series of webinars. Design Lab Weekends are:

Apr. 9 + 10, Oct. 15 + 16, 2016 & Jan 7 + 8, 2017

The first weekend's theme is Organizational Design. Topics covered include cooperative design through the permaculture lens, the phases of cooperative development, project timelines, value propositions, patterns in organizational structure, and cooperative viability.

October Design Lab will center on Membership and Membership Skills. We will be unpacking issues around recruiting and keeping members, accountability and evaluation systems in cooperatives, communication, conflict management, network and relationship building, and leadership development.

The final Design Lab weekend will focus on Culture Work. We will tackle challenging issues pertaining to core values, diversity and anti-oppression, democratic decision making, vision and mission, marketing plans and strategies, facilitation, and working with technical assistance.

Throughout the course, webinars will be presented by various experts on topics relevant to cooperative development. These webinars are open to alumni, partner organizations and the curious public. There will also be homework that includes readings, films, group projects, and journal work. In celebration of course completion, participants will have the opportunity to present their ideas to an audience of community members, mentors, funders, and policy makers.



What you put in is what you get out. We recommend you attend all three of the weekends, do the outside work that we provide, and join us for our remote opportunities, like webinars, peer-support opportunities, and mentorship. Find out more click Apply now.




"Worker cooperatives are business entities that are owned and controlled by their members, the people who work in them. All cooperatives operate in accordance with the Cooperative Principles and Values. The two central characteristics of worker cooperatives are: (1) worker-members invest in and own the business together, and it distributes surplus to them and (2) decision-making is democratic, adhering to the general principle of one member-one vote.

Though we lack comprehensive data on the nature and scope of worker cooperatives in the U.S., researchers and practitioners conservatively estimate that there are over 350 democratic workplaces in the United States, employing over 5,000 people and generating over $500 million in annual revenues."

 - Excerpt from "What is a Worker Co-op?" in the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, https://www.usworker.coop/about/what-is-a-worker-coop