fellowship participants and CFNE staff sitting inside in a circle formation with one participant standing to shareReflection written by Johan Matthews, CFNE’s Ecosystem Strategy Manager

This past November, in the autumnal, cape side woods of Essex, Massachusetts, our Learning Team gathered 11 leaders from our fellowship community for a retreat designed to inspire co-evolution.  

These 11 hailed from 6 different community centered and locally led organizations across the Northeast –  Four Directions Development Corporation in Maine, Fuerza Laboral in RI, ReSET in CT, the Capital Region Co-op Cnxn in Upstate NY, the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust and Black Farmer Fund in the northeast region– representing fellows, host sites leaders and community members. 

In past gatherings, fellows and host site leaders met separately to support their own distinct journeys.
This time we were all in it to grow together. 

During the 2-day retreat, we ventured to learn about each other’s hopes and fears, our origins, our ongoing journeys and our shared dreams for the future of the cooperative movement. 

In our discussions of their respective projects, we inquired “what would you do if you couldn’t fail?” and, ultimately, “what would you do if you couldn’t succeed?”  

Most significantly, we explored the conditions under which our projects would flourish, possible paths to sustainability, and emerging opportunities for cross-pollination. 

We cherished our time with these marvelous individuals and left rejuvenated, knowing we had each expanded our ecosystems of care and support.

I look forward to the next gathering, this summer, where we will break ground on our collaborative fundraising efforts and cultivate seeds of shared tomorrows.