In early January all eight Palante workers gathered in our cooperative's original home base of NYC for our winter retreat. We met in the conference room at The Muste Institute, a Palante client and a hub for social justice organizing in NYC that also houses the War Resisters League, another longtime Palante client. We soaked in the revolutionary energy of the space and let it inspire our hard work towards building a stronger, more sustainable and more effective cooperative to better support ourselves and our movements. We were also excited to borrow the balloon arch that we found in their office for our traditional retreat photo!
We started this retreat by zooming all the way out with a brainstorming exercise and discussion about our shared values as an organization. I feel lucky at Palante to work someplace where I can expect all of my coworkers to be pretty much on the same page when it comes to big political questions. But it was still pretty awesome and affirming to have that harmony and those shared convictions visualized and spoken aloud through brainstorming, sticky-note generating, dot-sticking, grouping and discussing the values we hold important as members of this cooperative. We carried that consonance with us throughout our planning and policy-making throughout the retreat, and all of us cited the discussion as one of the highlights of the retreat.
Later that afternoon, after working on our 2020 budget, we had another good, deep discussion about personal and organizational sustainability at Palante, a common and important theme at our retreats. Building upon the work we've done towards a more sustainable cooperative in recent years, we shared more about what would make working at Palante sustainable for us as individuals, economically and otherwise. We then strategized to get to that more sustainable place from where we are now, deciding to make some immediate improvements to wages and paid time off and planning for how to continue making strides towards a Palante that is sustainable for workers faced with all sorts of different life situations, responsibilities and systemic oppressions.
We had a number of other important conversations and planning sessions, including topics like containerization and other new and improved systems and workflows for our work, working on our publicity and outreach strategies (including writing more blog posts like this one!), and continuing to improve our accountability systems and processes within the cooperative.
We also remembered to have fun and celebrate each other and our cooperative's successes! We enjoyed our meals and downtime together, especially an amazingly delicious dinner in Chinatown. And when we had our closing go-around and appreciations at the end of the weekend, the positive vibes were palpable. I'm happy to report that said vibes have continued to resonate with us in the weeks since we've returned to our respective cities and the day-to-day of our Palante work. We hope that our clients, colleagues and comrades can feel the benefits of that camaraderie and connection as we work with them in the coming months and years!