📢 Important News from the Cooperation Humboldt Board of Directors

May 2, 2023

Greetings from the board – Tamara McFarland, Kate Lancaster, Caroline Griffith, Laurie Wayne, and Leila Roberts.

We have important news, and a call to reconnect in the near future.

Over the past year we have continued to operate Cooperation Humboldt’s many projects while carefully unraveling a snarled ball of troubled relationships and communication patterns. We have been seeking a new path to our shared vision that blends courageous love with accountability. 

It has been a challenging year.

The next phase is something we’re optimistically calling “Reclaiming the Dream”: Cooperation Humboldt will be going into a strategic hiatus for the next several months. This is an intentional pause to allow us the time and space to regroup with thoughtfulness, intention, and integrity. 

During this time:

  • We will keep our fiscal and other commitments to partners as they wish: Centro del Pueblo, which we are happy to announce now wholly holds Jardin Santuario; New Rising Hmong Association; Justin Maxon and Field Guide to a Crisis; the Tool Library; and Worker Owned Humboldt.
  • Most – possibly all – other Cooperation Humboldt programming will be suspended.
  • We will not be engaging with the general public through phone, email, tabling at events, new study groups, or fundraising activities.

It’s time to cover the field and let it rest dormant for a while. 

The “strategic” part of the hiatus is to actively invite our past study group participants and other supporters to be part of this reflection and renewal. There will be opportunities to respond to surveys, participate in listening projects, gather for learning and reflection meetings, and possibly convene all together in person later as we work through this transition process.

Some of you are monthly sustaining donors, and will receive a separate message describing exactly what will be happening with your contributions and asking if you wish to suspend your monthly giving, or continue.

If you have any questions, please let us know. If you’d like to be involved in our process to ‘reclaim the dream’ – we welcome that too! 

Please complete this short poll so we know to be in touch. 

The board will convene in May to start outlining the next steps and we will be in touch after that with an invitation to join us in reflection and re-visioning.

Below are a few more details about the strategic hiatus.

Thank you for your belief in a more inclusive, solidarity-based future and for your support in so many forms over the years.

With love,

Tamara, Kate, Caroline, Laurie, and Leila


Cooperation Humboldt’s Strategic Hiatus 2023+

During this time, programming will be suspended and we will not be engaging with the general public. This is an intentional shift to allow us the time and space to regroup with thoughtfulness, intention, and integrity.

Critical Questions. The board (and other individuals by invitation) will be exploring these and other critical questions in an attempt to decide Cooperation Humboldt’s future:

  • Is the current mission and approach moving and interesting to Black, Indigenous, and people of color, working class folks, people of all ages? What would better engage a base that is more inclusive across age, gender, race/ethnicity?
  • How can we map the history and dynamics that contributed to the organization’s repeated history of interpersonal conflict and harm in ways that let us avoid making the same mistakes? 
  • What is the wisest way to move forward from the harmful impacts of past participants? How can we learn from the many other radical organizations that have navigated similar situations and created healing and accountability space?

Possibilities. We don’t yet know what Cooperation Humboldt will (or won’t) be at the conclusion of this process. We remain open to all possibilities, including:

  • Keeping our nonprofit status and stewarding resources until we’re ready to start fresh, from scratch, however long it takes. (Possibly even with a new name?)
  • Ramping up to return to a robust staff-led organization once again. 
  • Transitioning to a primarily volunteer-led organization.
  • Ending Cooperation Humboldt as a nonprofit and distributing assets to other nonprofit(s) with aligned missions.
  • Reorganizing in another form like an educationally focused, worker cooperative
  • Something entirely different – as yet unimagined.

Check Out Our New Podcast – CoHum Chats!

Cooperation Humboldt is excited to present our new podcast series, CoHum Chats. The podcast will feature guests and topics to amplify the work of Cooperation Humboldt, in addition inform and enlighten. Some of the topics to be discussed include food sovereignty, worker-owned cooperatives, and more.

Our inaugural show features economist Emily Kawano to discuss solidarity economy — what is is, how it works, why it should be favored over extractive capitalism. Joining in the conversation are Cooperation Humboldt’s Tamara McFarland, Tobin McKee and Lorna Bryant. Lorna, who brings her public radio background, is the podcast host.


The podcast will be available where podcasts are generally found (Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, etc.) in the very near future, but we are releasing the YouTube format here and now! Feel free to view, comment, ‘LIKE’ and share it on your very own social media platforms.

If you’d like to support this and other projects of Cooperation Humboldt to ensure the work continues, consider donating now. Thank you in advance for your support.

A request 

Dear Friends,

We’re reaching out with a special request for support. While we have been successful over the past year with obtaining grant funding for our project-specific work, our general funds are quite low, and we’ve set a goal of reaching 100 monthly sustaining donors by the end of October.

So far we have 48 monthly donors – can you help us reach our goal of 100?

Cooperation Humboldt is a truly local and grassroots organization focused on addressing the roots of inequality, challenging unjust systems, and creating real-world solutions. And these solutions aren’t aimed at just the symptoms, but at the real causes of suffering. We’re changing the entire system from the bottom up.

But we can’t continue to do this work without support from our community – and that means you! Sign up today as a recurring monthly donor (just check the box that says ‘monthly’ next to the donation amount) and as a thank you gift we’re offering a free t-shirt to anyone who signs up at the level of $10/month! (The gift is totally optional – your choice.) 🙂

Recurring gifts give us the stability that comes with knowing we can pay for organizational costs like bookkeeping, grant administration, office rent, supplies and more. Without a strong administrative center, none of our amazing programs can flourish.

Will you please sign up now as a monthly sustaining donor?

Thanks for caring about our community. We appreciate you!

In Solidarity,

Your friends at Cooperation Humboldt


If you aren’t already, would you consider joining Cooperation Humboldt as a sustaining monthly donor? You can chose an amount that works for your budget from $10, $25, or more! Your contribution goes a long way to support the diverse community-centered work we do together! 


As always, please reach out to us with your own dreams, ideas, and plans. Please be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on how Cooperation Humboldt empowers our community to build a brighter future! 

Yes, They Are Racist. What Now? 

A North Coast Journal opinion piece by Tamara McFarland, published 9/1/2022

Progress often provokes a vicious response from those who wish to maintain the status quo. Much as the election of this country’s first Black president fueled the retaliatory rage of right wing white supremacists, leading to Trump’s election and an increase in racist attacks, it is clear that the progress this community has made toward acknowledging the Wiyot peoples’ rightful place on this land and in leadership is now provoking the anger of those who have become accustomed to holding power for generations — namely, wealthy landowners and developers. 

It was particularly breathtaking to view two stories side by side in last week’s issue. How jarring to transition from a beautiful tale of care for land and community guided by love and respect (“Wiyot Tribe Reclaims Mouralherwaqh”) — which ended on a beautiful note with Wiyot tribal Chair Ted Hernandez saying, “This is how we make change in today’s world. We’re going to bring the beauty back.” — straight into an account of vitriolic anger, cultural insensitivity and shocking entitlement by a public representative on the next page (“Broken Trust”).

Alan Bongio’s behavior demonstrates his unsuitability for his positions on the Humboldt County Planning Commission and the Humboldt Community Services District Board of Directors. Bongio’s racist rhetoric and unwillingness to work respectfully with local sovereign tribes and their representatives flatly disqualifies him from any form of public service — now and into the future. Citizens of conscience must call for his immediate removal from any position of power to prevent further damage.

If it wasn’t sad, it would almost be funny how accurately Alan Bongio and his cronies embody the stereotypical image of wealthy landowners who feel threatened by any challenge to their perceived authority — especially when that challenge comes as a result of the strength, wisdom and power of our Indigenous neighbors. This entire debacle stems from local developer Travis Schneider’s multiple blatant violations of his coastal development permit during the course of construction of his 8,000 square foot mansion alongside sensitive habitat and Wiyot cultural resources. In response to the resulting stop work order, Schneider, Bongio and their allies employed every trick in the oppressor’s bag — from fear mongering to histrionics (cue description of “tears roll[ing] down [Schneider’s] children’s faces”); from disappearing/denying the presence of tribal representatives at the meeting to name-calling and pitting one tribal entity against another. Bongio’s tantrum at having the privilege of the developer class called into question by the California Coastal Commission and local tribes on the basis of completely legitimate concerns was best summed up by his parting words: “That was a waste of my fucking time.” Classy.

This pattern has become all too familiar, with current events reminiscent of Rob Arkley’s reaction back in 2017 to the city of Eureka’s groundbreaking decision to return Tuluwat Island to the Wiyot Tribe (“Resisting Reparations,” Sept. 7, 2017). Rather than viewing this historic act as one of healing and appropriate reparations, Arkley whined about the loss of Eurekans’ “right to simply walk on the property at our whim,” — as if the loss of that privilege was in any way comparable to the generational trauma suffered by the Wiyot people as a result of the genocide and systemic racism they have endured.

As more of us become aware of the ways that colonization, white supremacy and patriarchy have damaged every element of life surrounding (and within) us, and we begin to look for true solutions, these attitudes and actions by the wealthy elite are wearing thin, and their overt racism is becoming clearer to even the untrained eye. We see who they are, and we see what they really think and feel. Now the question is what will we do about it? How will we act to uphold the Wiyot Tribe as the original and rightful caretakers of this place? What will we do to protect our beautiful home lands and waters for future generations and our more-than-human relations? 

I suggest that (a) we honor the wisdom of those who have stewarded this region since time immemorial, (b) those of us descended from colonizers pay a voluntary Wiyot honor tax and (c) those of us who currently own/occupy unceded Indigenous lands make plans to return those lands to the original inhabitants of our region. Land return doesn’t mean you have to be displaced — you can make plans through your estate to have land returned upon your death, or you can return it now and retain occupancy rights for your lifetime. 

We must continue to challenge and inspire one another with compassionate action and deep discourse, and to call out racism, inequality and misogyny (both overt and covert) whenever and wherever they appear.

Tamara McFarland is a daughter, mother, wife, community organizer and lifelong resident of Jaroujiji (the Soulatluk/Wiyot word for Eureka, California).

Cooperation Humboldt’s Street Outreach Project Supports Basic Human Rights

Arcata, CA June 13, 2022 – On Thursday, June 2, Cooperation Humboldt’s Street Outreach workers were present at the Samoa Boulevard pullout encampment in Arcata (formerly Soilscape Solutions) on the day that residents were forced to leave their camp or risk arrest. Upon learning about the eviction, our team worked diligently to help people prepare for relocation. We were able to mediate conflict between homeless residents and the Arcata Police Department to ensure that no one was arrested and everyone was treated with dignity. We also managed to help several individuals salvage their belongings and move to a new location. While we are relieved that this transition was able to take place without anyone being arrested, we also recognize that day as emblematic of the constant upheaval, trauma and insecurity that our unhoused neighbors face on a daily basis. As a community we must build long-term solutions and advocate for transformative change that goes beyond simply playing musical chairs with the lives of our fellow human beings.

As a community, we need to begin working on upstream solutions instead of just continuing to push people around from one unsanctioned place to another. Ending homelessness once and for all will require a coordinated community-wide approach to total economic transformation, to build a society where everyone has their needs met without exploiting people or the environment.

The repeated pattern in our community of forcible removal of people from the areas that they choose to live has only resulted in the perpetuation of one of our region’s biggest problems. For example, while we were helping a few individuals from the Samoa Boulevard encampment re-settle in an alternate location, business owners near that new location were already phoning in complaints to the police. It is evident that there are plans in the works for the eviction of the residents in several of the other large and well-established unsanctioned camps in Arcata, which will do nothing to help the people and only exacerbate the problem. Past evictions like the one at the Palco Marsh (Devil’s Playground) with the intention to, “destroy sense of comfort and entitlement,” failed to address the problem of homelessness, and instead, contributed to the traumatization and persecution of our homeless community members. The Palco Marsh eviction was determined to be unlawful, and some victims were paid damages. Law enforcement and municipalities need to abide by the case law established in Martin v. Boise.

We urge local governments and law enforcement to:

● Cease the eviction of unsanctioned encampments unless and until there are accessible, sanctioned places for all evicted people to live;
● Cease the dispersal and arrest of homeless people living with disabling conditions such as mental illness, PTSD, and substance use disorder;
● Provide adequate waste disposal and clean toilets for all residents regardless of their socioeconomic status, dysfunction, or behaviors;
● Increase funding and decrease crippling regulations for housing, healthcare, food security, street outreach, service centers, and employment preparation programs and projects;
● Concentrate large-scale funding and program development on broad-reaching upstream economic solutions.

At Cooperation Humboldt, we recognize that access to potable water, toilets, waste disposal, food, healthcare, and shelter are all fundamental human rights – not commodities or privileges that must be earned through specific behaviors or paid for with currency. Regardless of questions of entitlement or enablement, every human being deserves to have their most basic needs met with dignity and respect – even if they are unwilling or unable to behave lawfully or engage productively with well-intentioned service providers. Mental illnesses and substance use disorders are disabling conditions resulting in impaired function – they are not behaviors. Homelessness is a symptom of our failing socioeconomic system, and while absolutely necessary, downstream projects like our Street Outreach project, which aims to address the immediate needs of homeless people are not solutions. Likewise, services like rapid re-housing – which must be offered without preconditions such as employment, income, absence of criminal record, presence of pets, or sobriety – transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing are all absolutely necessary downstream responses, not upstream solutions. Cooperation Humboldt fully supports the governments and organizations working tirelessly to provide and expand those essential services.

A housing crisis is often the result of a financial one. Current incomes are often much lower than is needed to comfortably pay average rental costs, leaving many people financially vulnerable to housing instability. Income support programs that can assist low-income people, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or unemployment compensation, help many people withstand economic crises. Often, however, people experiencing homelessness find these programs to be inaccessible and the benefits offered are often insufficient to help them achieve stability. Truly affordable housing development, rent stabilization, and programs designed to assist low-income people to increase their income are critical to supporting housing stability.

For the past year, Cooperation Humboldt’s Street Outreach team has been working closely with homeless members of our community to address their most pressing needs. The Street Outreach program is funded through an Emergency Solutions Grant for Coronavirus Response with the Department of Health & Human Services, and was formed through Cooperation Humboldt’s Community Health Worker Collaborative with the help of Eureka City Councilmember Leslie Castellano.

The Community Health Worker Collaborative builds independent Community Health Worker groups in close partnership with chronically underserved populations including people experiencing substance use disorder, people with extremely low or no incomes, Black, Indigenous, and people of color, LGBTQIA+ identifying people, and people experiencing mental illness and homelessness. The Street Outreach project is a compassion-based program that was designed under the direction of people currently or formerly experiencing homelessness; the program employs people in need to care for people in need.

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 Davidkcobb@gmail.com.  

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 cooperationhumboldt@gmail.com 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 tamara.mcfarland@cooperationhumboldt.com.

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.