Standing Tall for Co-ops

One name we kept hearing and reading while doing research for Radical Roots was Kris Olsen. Kris was a dedicated co-op activist who popped up all over our story: befriending Moe Burton while helping out the Bryant-Central Co-op, being physically thrown out of Seward Co-op by the CO (they needed a bunch of guys - Kris was very tall!), traveling around the Midwest helping people start co-ops as the first staffer of the All-Cooperative Assembly.

Sadly, Kris sustained profound injuries during a construction accident in the 1980s and died in 1997, but his memory lives on. He kept extensive files on the co-ops, and the Co-op Wars in particular, which are now at the Minnesota History Center Library and are our biggest source of information for Radical Roots. And the Northcountry Cooperative Foundation has the Kris Olsen Traveling Cooperative Institute, which provides training for co-op leaders in the Midwest, just as Kris did in his lifetime. Look for the interview we will post tomorrow about the new youth-focused effort by the Institute headed by Emily Lippold Cheney. Tracy Lea Landis has a great series of photos of Kris in his prime on her Facebook page.

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