The Co-operative College launched its New Pioneers programme at the recent Biennial ICMIF Conference in Manchester, calling for global cooperatives to lend their support to the preservation of cooperative heritage.
The New Pioneers project was developed by The Co-operative Heritage Trust as part of a £2.3 million programme to transform cooperative heritage into accessible resources which can be used across the world. Mervyn Wilson, Chief Executive and Principal of the Co-operative College (Trustee of the Co operative Heritage Trust) explained: “There were 28 original Rochdale pioneers and we would like 28 cooperatives from across the world to join with us in helping to safeguard our future”. The Co-operative Group, UK, and the Indian fertiliser co-operative IFCO, are the first organisations to support the programme. Mervyn continued, “We can work together to become the new pioneers and use our heritage to inspire a new generation.”
During the ICMIF conference The Co-operative Heritage Trust hosted a reception for delegates and leaders of financial and insurance cooperatives from Australia, Japan, Russia and the Philippines enjoyed ‘cooperative cocktails’ while viewing a new animated film which depicts how the cooperative values established by the Rochdale Pioneers were ahead of social changes. The film, New Pioneers, invites viewers to become ’21st Century Pioneers’, saying: “It’s now our time to move towards a brighter, more cooperative future and improve our lives and the lives of others” which reflected the main Conference theme of “It’s Our Time”.
A range of artefacts from the Rochdale Pioneers Museum and National Co operative Archive were on show in the event’s “Cooperative Showcase”. Also on display was an art installation created by Geoff Hall, an MA student at Manchester School of Art and Design, which captured moments in cooperative history through a trio of ‘shop windows’, and conveyed the values and principles of cooperation through engraved glass forms.
Delegates interested in the history of cooperation were also treated to an exclusive premiere of a promenade theatre performance in Rochdale Graveyard by The Shed Theatre Co which reinterprets the story of the Rochdale Pioneers. The Shed Theatre Co had worked alongside Co-operative College Outreach Officers to develop the play.
The College also highlighted the range of services it can offer cooperatives today at the conference, its global work with cooperatives, and its pioneering work with schools and young people.
More information on The Co-operative College can be found at their web site.