Sofia Sabbagh in foreground - new Workshop artist

Sofia Sabbagh in foreground – Sofia is the inaugural Workshoper artist-in-residence (with Antony McMullen CoopWorkshop founder looking into the distance).

As any blogger would know it’s a discipline to write regularly about your area of interest. It can be the same for an artist. Many work sporadically. However there is another model where an artist works to a self-imposed schedule. The image of Nick Cave who goes into work to write each day, almost to the rhythm of an office-worker, comes to mind.

CoopWorkshop has been a voluntary affair post being sponsored by the Uniting Church in Australia in 2012/13. You can read a little more about me and the history here. Since that time I’ve kept pretty busy writing articles and attending various cooperative events:

Also, I’ve had the opportunity to attend the excellent Executive Leadership Program: Co-operatives and Mutuals 2016 program conducted by the Australian Institute of Management in Western Australia getting to meet some wonderful cooperators in the process. At the time of writing I’m about to attend the Moral Fairground conference on Re-imagining the Australian Ethical Enterprise model and what it could look like in the next 10 years.

I met Sofia Sabbagh through her work with Earthworker. Sofia then invited me to the Celebration of Melbourne Co-operatives – an event that she founded to bring together nascent cooperators, and those more seasoned, to get the conversation started about the solidarity economy. After recently meeting up to discuss how to, literally and figuratively, illustrate the benefits of cooperation in the economy, we hatched a plan. Why not blog regularly, conduct interviews, offer practical advice and broader analysis and maybe even work towards an illustrated book? Sounds perfect for CoopWorkshop, so here we are.

Sofia writes her biography on the palm of her hand.

Sofia writes her biography on the palm of her hand.

Instead of the dot-point bio update that I’ve provided here about myself, Sofia preferred the visual form. This tells you a lot really. I’m still getting to know Sofia, but we both know that we are pretty different; and, that we share a love of cooperation and co-operatives. That’s the thing about co-ops; all sorts of people like them, from a National Party voter in a rural area to a policy wonk in the city through to an artist/explorer. This gives me hope.

We hope to write and draw weekly. Perhaps, with your help and feedback, this work will lead new learning and development materials being produced to help those interested to build co-operatives and mutual enterprises. We want to share the hope.

– Antony McMullen