On Saturday, February 13, Roberta and Lynette Malles will be presenting “Co-op Warriors Honored: Revisiting the Co-op Wars of 1975-76,” a free workshop that seeks to better understand the Co-op Wars and to heal the wounds and broken relationships that persist from the conflict.
Roberta was inspired to organize the event after a trip to the Chicago area in the spring of last year to visit some former comrades in the CO. She was struck by the strong ties that still existed between former members, including marriages and children born while they were in the group.
“I’ve been saying that we are like an extended family and I came to realize that, in many cases, we are family.”
She also was reminded that, “We’re all getting older” and felt an urgency both to mend fences and make sense of their experience, both for ex-CO members and the broader leftist community. She and Lynette point out that many of the issues at play in the co-op wars, like racism and income equality, are still major issues, and the recent expansions of Seward Co-op and Mississippi Market into new neighborhoods have again brought them to the fore in the co-op movement. They were also inspired by the production of Radical Roots, which showed them that younger generations could be interested in their experiences.
Roberta thinks it’s time for former CO members, bound to secrecy while they were in the group, to make their experience available to the community and to focus on the positive principles that caused them to dedicate themselves to radical action in the first place.
“If we put down this personal burden, we regain our comradeship, our fellowship, love and appreciation, then our experience can be put to use.’”
The workshop will feature presentations by Roberta and fellow former CO members Jerry Path and Robbie Orr, each followed by a discussion period and a musical interlude, followed by a broader discussion. It will run 1:00-5:00 pm at Living Table United Church of Christ, 805 East 40th Street, Minneapolis. The event is free and everyone is welcome.