I’m not sure what my co-op blog post means to you, nor what insight or enjoyment you hope to gain from reading this. But my motivation for writing it—outside of its obligatory nature as a co-op assignment—is to give myself space for reflection and to process what’s happening in my life now over co-op.
I signed a contract. Between me and my employer, the Solar Living Center in Hopland, CA, there was a thirty-page packet of information that I agreed to adhere to, including the work hours required, the policy on taking days off, liability waiving, etc.—the whole nine. After spending one day here, I realized that either this contract was written years ago and is now an unacknowledged formality or is something that only gets brought up at times when enforcement is really needed. This place is chill and, much like Antioch College or an old Dutch East India trading ship, you get out what you put in.
Our “intern manager” is really the program manager who just happens to have more time than any of the other paid staff to handle us interns, who have been tasked to grow, maintain, and ultimately sell wheatgrass to a local co-op, be fully responsible for the garden space on-site, live communally and maintain the space we share in an orderly fashion, and random other as-needed tasks. The idea is that we are responsible for facets of the institution and it is largely up to us to figure out our own system and how to elicit positive results. It’s an environment I’ve found I work well in; I am learning a lot and enjoying the creative problem-solving needed to be successful here.
However, I can’t help but return to the fact that the more I do, the more I leave with. That is, if I leave with the knowledge of how to operate these systems, who do I pass the torch to? Somebody here still needs to know how to grow wheatgrass. My mind wanders to Antioch College, to all the amazing initiatives that still exist there but also the ones lost due to a lack of accessible institutional memory able to be drawn from after the individuals responsible for its birth left. To curb the often frustrating learning curve here, I am some other interns are planning on leaving some form of transitionary document or video for future interns to learn from. At the very least, it will solidify and provide closure to my time spent here.