An Important Announcement

To our valued community:

We would like to share with you the bittersweet news that two of our founders – David Cobb and Ruthi Engelke – are moving on from Cooperation Humboldt as of March 31, 2022.

Both David and Ruthi have worked tirelessly since 2017 to help nurture Cooperation Humboldt to the vibrant and growing organization it is today. We recognize and deeply appreciate their vision and commitment and we look forward to continued opportunities for collaboration.

David will be furthering his transformational work to promote restoration ecology, regenerative economic development, and “Land Back” initiatives. If you are interested in learning more, you can contact David directly at  

Ruthi will embrace a much-deserved semi-retirement. She plans to focus her energy on gardening, theater and continuing to help David in his work. It is worth noting that David  frequently acknowledges that none of the work he does is possible without her love and support.

We, the staff and board of Cooperation Humboldt, are excited to move into a new phase of growth for our organization and we look forward to sharing more about our vision and plans as the next few months unfold.If you want to reach out to us with further questions please contact us at or (707) 502-2492.

In Solidarity,
Tamara McFarland, President of the Board
Ron White, Secretary of the Board
Michelle Vassel, Treasurer of the Board
Tobin McKee, Staff Collective Member
Sabrina Miller, Staff Collective Member
Morgan March, Staff Collective Member
Kimberley White, Staff Collective Member
Lorna Bryant, Staff Collective Member

2020 Mini Garden Recipients Invited to Supplies Giveaway 4/25/2021

If you received a mini garden last year from Cooperation Humboldt, you’re invited to a supplies giveaway on Sunday, April 25th from noon-2:00 p.m. at the parking lot across from Redwood Acres in Eureka. We’ll have bags of compost (so you can add nutrients to your soil to prepare it for another year’s planting) and plant starts available for free, plus educational materials and experienced gardeners on hand to answer questions.

Questions? Email

Setting the Table for Conversation, March 4, 2021

Watch this lively panel conversation and Q&A with Cooperation Humboldt, Food Rescue US, The Gleaning Project, and The Works Inc. on taking action on food waste, food insecurity, and food injustice. This event was organized by the Food group in the Uniting for Action America program.


Public Banking Forum 02/23/2021

A public bank is owned by a state, municipality, or Joint Powers Authority. Current examples of successful public banks include the following:

Public banks come in many forms. They can be capitalized through initial investment by cities/states, invest tax revenues, create money in the form of bank credit, and lend at very low interest rates. The specific operations of each public banking entity is determined by the bank’s charter, which is the document that creates each bank. Public banks empower local residents to design financial solutions that best serve their communities.

Cooperation Humboldt is partnering with the City of Eureka and local leaders from the sectors of finance and organized labor on a citizens’ task force to investigate the feasibility of participating in a regional public bank.

Check out our forum on Public Banking from 2/21/2021, where  David Cobb (Cooperation Humboldt), Jake Varghese (Public Bank East Bay) and Paul Pryde describe the groundbreaking new CA law that allows for the creation of 10 local regional public banks. They also discuss the growing momentum for AB310, which would create a statewide Public Bank for California.



When Solidarity Economics Is Our DNA: A story from the Cooperation Humboldt study group experience

By Tobin McKee, Cooperation Humboldt Core Team member and staff member

Because I am one of the facilitators for the hugely popular Cooperation Humboldt solidarity economy study groups, I was asked by another organization to run a similar study group for them. It did not go as planned.

The story of why it didn’t work well taught me something inspiring.

In a nutshell, the curriculum of the Cooperation Humboldt study group can be summarized this way:

Capitalist enclosure of wealth is built upon white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, and colonialism. Sharing, caring solidarity economics are built upon anti-racism, inclusive equity, and decolonization. 

To become a Core Team member at Cooperation Humboldt, the one and only requirement is that you participate in a study group, to learn about these things and the parts we play in them. The foundation of the organization is built upon antiracism, inclusive equity, and decolonization. Not as mere ideas, but as principles that each of us practices and strives to embody. 

What I didn’t understand when I took the job running a study group somewhere else was that when an organization is built upon the principles of solidarity economics, that shapes everything the organization does. It is the DNA of the organization. And when an organization is built another way, it behaves differently. In hindsight, it seems obvious.

I’m a design thinker. Kind of like an architect or an engineer, I plan things out before I do them. When I’m facilitating a study group, for example, I plan it out again, each time, even though I’ve done it before. I imagine, “How can I make this better? How will this experience affect people?”

So there I was, working for another organization, tasked with making the same magic that has made Cooperation Humboldt so effective. Working with my co-facilitator – an amazing person who is leaps and bounds ahead of me in their social justice work – we created a curriculum for our new study group, based on what I’d done at Cooperation Humboldt. I was optimistic. I thought our study group was going to make waves of positivity. Instead, we made something unexpectedly lackluster. 

While the Cooperation Humboldt study groups are full of rich, challenging conversations, where everyone, myself included, learns something new about the world, and about ourselves, this new group was slow to get to the root of the matter and genuinely start to look at how the programs we create are always going to be shaped around our deeply ingrained worldviews, which are often different than our well-meaning belief systems.

Why? What happened?

It comes back to that idea of the foundation, the DNA, the design of the thing. Entering into an existing space and attempting to remodel it is very different than creating something entirely new. To remodel an organization based on the principles of solidarity economics is a completely different task than to build an organization that way from the ground up. So I’m going back to the drawing board on that one, and I’ll do better next time.

But now that I more fully understand what it means to work for an organization that has solidarity,  antiracism, inclusive equity, and decolonization in its very DNA, my enthusiasm for the Cooperation Humboldt study groups is doubled. 

Our solidarity economy and social justice study groups are creating a healthy family of sharing, caring pro-activists who are equipped with the most valuable tools that a society has available: equity, cooperation, mutualism, pluralism, participatory democracy, and regenerative resource management. With these things as our building blocks, what we create is truly revolutionary.



Public Statement from Cooperation Humboldt Board of Directors & Staff
Cooperation Humboldt exists to create a solidarity economy in our community. We know it is possible to meet our collective needs without exploitation or oppression and that it is possible to do so in a manner that heals and regenerates our natural ecosystems.
We also understand the importance of public engagement in civic leadership, and we believe that our elected officials should be held to the highest standards of public service. Humboldt County Auditor-Controller Karen Paz-Dominguez is an outstanding public servant and we are appalled at the attacks she has faced for the past two years, which have intensified of late. The recent actions by the Board of Supervisors taken against our elected Auditor-Controller are baseless, border on malicious harassment, and are a waste of public funds that are badly needed for other purposes. It is particularly disappointing to see a strong young Latina leader being singled out for such baseless mistreatment and blatant abuse.
For two years Paz-Dominguez has stated that she was not receiving accurate information in a timely manner and that her office was understaffed to do the work required under California law — work she was elected to do by the voters of Humboldt County. She has a legal responsibility to certify financial records and can’t do so without proper documentation. No one should want or expect her to do otherwise. Now that she either hasn’t gotten the records or has received them late, the Board of Supervisors and the County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) are attempting to blame her for the adverse consequences of her principled choice to follow both the law and generally accepted accounting principles.
Several times the CAO has hired outside consultants to undo work already completed accurately by Paz-Dominguez. Where did the money come from to hire consultants for this purpose, while the Board refuses to hire the two additional staffers that Paz-Dominguez has said she needed for the past two years?
Now the Board and CAO want to hire an outside firm to audit — not the county — but the Auditor’s office itself, at a cost of $250,000. This during an unprecedented pandemic, when funds are desperately needed to keep county residents housed, fed, and healthy. Furthermore, the CAO is now advocating to hire a Finance Director, in direct opposition to the decision made by voters in 2016.
It is also worth noting that the county’s outside auditor has previously praised Paz-Dominguez’ work when she reduced an $8 million “miscellaneous” trust fund down to $480,000. Paz-Dominguez also kept the county from making a gross error on its projected income when $7 million in revenue was being counted twice. And she has diligently worked to reduce the fraud potential in payroll that was taken out of the Auditor’s office just before she was sworn in as the newly elected Auditor.
Frequently, the County states it can’t do critically important community projects due to a lack of funds. So where is this money coming from to attack the Auditor? It is money that would be much better spent serving the community rather than trying to disparage one of our most respected and effective elected officials.
– Cooperation Humboldt Board of Directors & Staff


EUREKA, CA (October 8, 2020) – Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that honors Native peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. It is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October, which falls on Monday, October 12 this year. Cooperation Humboldt encourages residents to mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day this year by participating in a voluntary tax called the Honor Tax. Detailed information is available at

An Honor Tax is a tangible way of honoring the sovereignty of Native Nations. It is called a tax because it’s not a gift or donation. The tax is voluntary, and the amount is decided by the individual/organization, and is paid directly to the historical inhabitants of the place where one currently lives and/or works. For those of us who live in the greater Wigi (Humboldt Bay) area, those historical inhabitants are the Wiyot Tribe. Those who live outside the greater Humboldt Bay area can look up their appropriate Tribal entity at

According to Wiyot Tribal Administrator Michelle Vassel, “Tribal governments provide essential service to their citizens. Other governments tax property, land, and income in order to provide these services. Tribal Governments cannot do this as their ancestral territory is occupied. We cannot tax our own people because they are already paying local, state, and federal taxes and tribal lands are held in trust by the federal government, or being taxed by other governments. The Wiyot Tribe operates primarily on grant funding. That places Tribes in a position of being subject to the whims of the federal government and nonprofit foundations which often dictate how funds must be spent. For me, the Honor tax is a really important tool to develop economic sovereignty because it allows us to choose how we spend funds with no strings attached.”

A growing number of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits locally have recognized the importance of the Honor Tax and have committed to paying it on a regular basis. Some pay monthly, and others annually. The amounts vary.

Earlier this year, College of the Redwoods began paying the Wiyot Honor Tax. Marty Coelho, Executive Director of College Advancement and the CR Foundation shares, “Our college believes that it is important to commit to an Honor Tax in recognition of the history and legacy of the Wiyot Tribe and acknowledge that the CR Eureka campus occupies former Wiyot tribal land. Being able to provide funds which in turn will help support services for Wiyot elders and youth, is not only a good thing to do, it’s the right thing to do.”

In 2019 Cooperation Humboldt resolved to pay 1% of its gross annual income to the Wiyot Tribe as an Honor Tax in perpetuity. “In addition to working in all of our program areas to center the needs and perspectives of Indigenous peoples, and developing authentic relationships and partnerships with local Tribal entities, we believe that payment of this voluntary tax is an essential piece of moving toward reconciliation and repair of relationships that have been deeply damaged by hundreds of years of inequality and genocide,” explains Tamara McFarland, a board member of Cooperation Humboldt.

The Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, also participates in the Honor Tax. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to take up a special collection every year to pay our Honor Tax to the Wiyot Tribe. It reminds us of the historical injustice visited upon the Wiyot people by colonist predecessors and gives us a chance to align in a small way with what we hope will become meaningful reparations,” says Richard Kossow of HUUF’s Social Action Committee.

Some of the people who pay this tax prefer to do so anonymously because they do not wish to use the Honor Tax as a way to promote themselves as businesses or individuals, but prefer to keep the focus on Indigenous peoples. One Arcata business owner who pays the Honor Tax and wishes to remain anonymous shares, “It’s important to me to pay the tax because it recognizes the sovereignty of Indigenous Nations. It also represents a recognition that most of us are living on stolen land, and that’s generally not something that we are forced to recognize in any formal way in our daily lives. It’s also a way to acknowledge that Indigenous People are still here as active and vibrant members of our communities, and to honor the fact that we have so much to learn and gain from their continued presence.”

Another meaningful way to honor Indigenous People’s Day this year is by participating in Humboldt State University’s Native American Center for Academic Excellence’s Indigenous People’s Week celebration, which kicks off on Monday, October 12th at noon, and includes educational Zoom sessions focused on Indigenous experiences and perspectives all week long. More information is available at