During the Spring 2014 semester,Latin American Studies senior and Multicultural Engagement Center student María Ponce has been interning with Cooperation Texas, a local nonprofit that seeks to support and promote worker-owned cooperatives.
Since its inception in 2009, Cooperation Texas has helped launch Red Rabbit Vegan Cooperative Bakery, Dahlia Green Cleaning Services, and 4th Tap Brewing Co-op. The organization also hosts workshops such as Co-op 101 and recently brought in guest speaker Gar Alperovitz, a leading scholar and activist who focuses on the role of worker-owned cooperatives in the movement to create a new economy.
As the social media intern for Cooperation Texas, Ponce manages the organization’s online presence and actively works on increasing its following on social media. She compiles and shares articles related to the economy and cooperatives as well as promotes relevant upcoming events in the community. During her short time with Cooperation Texas, Ponce helped the organization develop a social media strategy that will not only increase its visibility, but also continue to promote the benefits of worker-owned cooperatives and the role they play in creating a more socially just world.
Working as an intern with Cooperation Texas has been a particularly meaningful experience for María. She has seen firsthand how cooperatives can help poor and working class communities as well as women and immigrants. These communities are often subjected to unfair and unsafe working conditions and worker-owned cooperatives create opportunities for them to earn a living wage and have more control over their lives. Prior to her internship with Cooperation Texas,Ponce was only aware of housing cooperatives because there are several cooperatives near the university campus that offer housing for students. The work of Cooperation Texas opened Ponce’s eyes to the cooperative movement as a whole and to a model of working that can be empowering for those involved. Once her internship comes to an end, Ponce plans to continue working on changing the face of the cooperative movement.