Co-ops come in all shapes and sizes and can do just about anything (as long as it’s legal!). No better proof is at hand (or foot) than with Colorado’s Walk2Connect Cooperative (W2C) – which is a worker-owned cooperative for walkers, yes, walkers!
W2C helps people and communities become healthier and more connected while advancing awareness of the importance of designing walkable communities and enjoying the pedestrian experience.
Started as a limited liability company a few years ago, a team of W2C leaders decided in 2016 that the cooperative model better fit the spirit of their grassroots and community-driven walking business which brings folks together from all “walks” of life to share the experience of walking: maybe for an hour, maybe for two, or maybe for a day or two.
The co-op’s members are expert walking leaders who develop and manage creative custom walking contracts with business, nonprofit, and government partners, and help sustain an ever-widening menu of free community walks (up to 40-50 per week!) that bring people together, highlight their surroundings, and build healthy exercise habits. Revenues last year were in the six figures, with public and private partnerships in Metro Denver and such rural Colorado locales as Alamosa, Yampa Valley/Craig, and Boulder County.
Examples of recent community walks include a bi-lingual walk, meditative walking retreat, sunrise walk, dog walk, and a farmer’s market walking series.
The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Cooperative Development Center’s Bill Stevenson recently experienced first-hand the work of W2C when he joined a group of Iranian immigrant women for a walk in a Denver park. “I happily accepted W2C’s executive director’s invitation to walk, but expected nothing more than some pleasant company and good exercise in a park I was already familiar with,” says Stevenson. “But the experience was so profoundly more than that. There was this almost magical connection in just 45 minutes or so with women I had never met and with whom I did not share a language or any personal history. I departed feeling a very unexpected and very special rapport with folks who were strangers just an hour before as well as with the clearly caring W2C staff who helped lead us.”