Shift Change co-op documentary screens at Trylon

Shift Change co-op documentary screens at Trylon
Photo by Myleen Hollero 

As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, perhaps it's time to take a look at alternatives to the exploitations of big corporations. Shift Change, which gets a screening at Trylon Microcinema this Thursday, is a documentary by Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin that explores employee ownership, telling the stories of various cooperative models all over the world.

Equal Exchange worker-owners
Equal Exchange worker-owners
Photo courtesy Equal Exchange

Hilary Johnson, a worker/owner at Equal Exchange, one of the featured  businesses in the documentary, will be introducing the film, which explores various case studies of ways that co-ops can work. For example, the film highlights Mondragon Corporation, a network of cooperatives in Northern Spain, started in 1956, that has weathered economic crisis much better than organizations in other parts of the country.

The film also explores Cleveland's Evergreen Cooperatives, which were influenced by Mondragon, and have received buy-ins from established institutions including Case Western Reserve University, the City of Cleveland, and University Hospitals. The the film also follows Arizmende, a chain of co-op bakeries in Northern California, and other organizations. 

Johnson has been working at Equal Exchange since December 2010. The company, she says, has about 100 owners, with a hierarchical management structure. She has a boss, but she has a vote in the company as well, and she's on the board of directors that oversees the mission and vision of the organization. According to Johnson, you need to have the right kind of communication skills and personality in order to thrive in the collective setting. 

Also being screened on Thursday will be a short teaser for Radical Roots, a new film that Johnson is developing along with Erik Esse and Deacon Warner about the history of food co-ops in the Twin Cities, which started popping up in the 1970s. The documentary will explore the infamous "co-op wars," as well as the history of how co-ops have evolved. The teaser features activist and former city council member Dean Zimmerman. 

Following the screening of Shift Change, audiences will be invited over to Seward Café, where there will be a happy hour for ticket holders. The informal post-show gathering will invite folks to discuss some of the issues brought up in Shift Change, as well as the upcoming Radical Roots documentary.


Shift Change
Trylon Microcinema
7 p.m.

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Trylon microcinema

3258 Minnehaha Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55406


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