Worker Cooperatives

In past entries I have made brief mentions of the UC Berkeley housing cooperatives and the cooperative grocery that is in the planning stages. Berkeley is also home to a number of worker cooperatives — businesses that are owned by their workers. A few that I have spotted on my walks include:

  • The famous Cheeseboard Collective, which has been around since the late 1960s and is know for their selection of (of course) cheese, bread and baked goods, and pizzas.
  • Nearby, on Vine Street, is the Juice Bar Collective, a tiny shop that sells juices, sandwiches, desserts, and other take-out vegetarian food.
  • Inkworks Press, which prints exclusively on 100% recycled paper and uses vegetable oil inks. It has been fun to stop and look at some examples of their work, which up in the windows of their storefront in West Berkeley.
  • 924 Gilman, the music venue. I did a brief write-up about this venue awhile back, but one thing I did not mention is that you might pass by 924 Gilman without knowing what goes on there unless you are familiar with the venue or happened to go by there on the night of a show. Not much signage, and it just looks like a run-down unused building from the front.
  • La Pena Cultural Center, which hosts music and other performances from a variety of cultural traditions. A very colorful mural decorates the outside of the building.
  • The Berkeley Massage and Self-Healing Center. I walked by this place on University Ave. many times, but did not realize it was a collective until I grabbed one of their brochures one day. It has been around since 1969, and was restructured as a collective in 1988.
  • Pedal Express, the bicycle messenger service. Well, I haven’t actually seen their business location, but have spotted the bicycles around town on a couple of occasions.
  • The Missing Link Bicycle Cooperative, which sells bicycles and offers free bike repair classes.


  1. Gary said

    I particularly like the idea of a “self-healing center.” And La Pena was the place we walked by back in December, right?

    Anyway, terrific post. And regarding the strange looks you mentioned a couple of days ago, I know the feeling. There have been quite a few neighborhoods where it was clear that I was an interloper, and in which I drew a lot of stares. Or maybe I just look really awkward when I run (a theory that’s been proposed more than once by people allegedly close to me). Either way, I agree it’s a little unsettling at times, especially when you’re alone. But despite the dangers (whether from motorists or suspicious homeowners) it seems like you’re having some fun walking up in the hills. How close are you to being finished these days?

  2. Spike said

    Gary said suspicious homeowners

    This nut came out of a house one day way back when I was just starting my walkies in 2005. Told me in an officious tone I couldn’t walk down that street. (It was a public street.) I just stared at him and he slunk back inside.

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