Cooperative Design Lab

Registration is open for Co-op Design Lab 2016! Apply below.

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

Co-op Design Lab is an accelerator for new economy and a training resource for existing or converting cooperatives. It is structured with three intensive weekends and a series of short elective courses.  In this design lab you set in place practices for Membership, Leadership and Culture. Groups come away with a well developed project plan. 

There is a webinar series that will enrich and supplement the three weekend workshops. The webinars are open to the public.

Topics covered: 

  • history of cooperatives
  • horizontal structures
  • managing conflict
  • legal documentation
  • accounting and bookkeeping for cooperatives
  • cooperative business development
  • marketing strategy
  • leadership in a co-op
  • mission and vision
  • enterprise ecology
  • anti-oppression


Participation is open to all walks of life. Our classrooms are culturally diverse, including differences in age, physical ability, language, gender, race, class and religion. We learn together to make community happen in a diverse learning environment. As we rebuild the commons together, we learn that the more diversity we have in our cooperative systems, the better our cooperatives serve our community. That said we seek both applicants that identify with socially marginalized groups, and applicants that may identify with the dominate culture of society alike.

The application will provide you a chance to explain your cooperative idea, and the status of the project you are working on.  Groups are encouraged to apply together. Apply now!


There is a scale to attend this course. Please select the rate that best applies to you.

$350 — Concessions – Students, Unwaged, Pensioners (limited availability)

$450 — Low waged (under 10k/yr)

$550 — Waged

$650 — Organizational Leader Rate

We never want money to be a barrier in participating in this course, so we will do everything we can to make it work for you to attend. Please email to set up a time to talk about how this course will support your community.


We invite all to practice generosity. If you are in position to offer a gift of $50 or more to support others to attend, please do so. Additional donations above the course price are welcome and help us provide scholarships (they are also tax-deductible). Donations can be made through our fiscal sponsor to: Cooperative Design Lab, c/o Permaculture Institute of the Northeast PO Box 3461, Amherst MA 1004-3461.


“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