About

Power in Cooperation

Grace in Action Collectives (GIAC) is a network of youth-run collectives and worker-owned cooperatives rooted in Southwest Detroit. The base of all of our work is building strong relationships. We believe that strong organizations and cooperatives are built at the intersection of residents self identified interests, talents and what the market can hold. Identifying this intersection requires years of relationships building work and deep market study and analysis.

GIAC believes that building worker-owned cooperatives gives people the power of ownership, the ability to have control over their future, and a way to invest deeply in the community where they live. Cooperative businesses have the potential to stabilize communities, utilize local expertise, and build community capital and wealth.

Our Goal

Less then 10% of Southwest Detroit residents work in Southwest Detroit. Over the next 10 years, we plan to bring about 200 new cooperative-based jobs, raising the percentage of people both working and living in Southwest Detroit by 5%. This will have a direct impact on the Southwest Detroit economy by generating 10 million new dollars that will cycle through the neighborhood.

What We Do

As a network, we provide the following support services for a minimum of 3 years:

  • Cooperative development training
  • Business feasibiity and planning
  • Bookkeeping and accounting
  • Initial and ongoing legal support
  • Branding and marketing
  • Connections to lenders
  • Meeting room, office and equipment use

Through ongoing training, we create a pipeline of Southwest Detroit residents interested in becoming members of one of the network Cooperatives. Training classes are offered throughout the year at Grace in Action, on subjects including cooperative development, graphic design, web coding, and digital literacy. All trainings have a curriculum informed by a popular education pedagogy, are rooted in the Southwest Detroit context, and use the tools learned to solve community problems.

People

Meghan Sobocienski

Executive Director

Meghan is a co-founder and the Director of Grace in Action Collectives (GIAC). Four generations of Meghan’s family have resided in Detroit, though she has been raised in both the city and the suburbs. Living and loving people on both sides of metro Detroit has defined Meghan’s life through experience of the realities of equity, race, and opportunities that do and do not exist in both places. Through community process, critical questions and democratic decision-making, Meghan has led each GIAC cooperatives through development and growth. Meghan has a BSW from Capital University and an MDiv. from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley California. She has worked as a community organizer with the PICO Network for 5 years and as a community organizing consultant for the ELCA national offices.

Margo Dalal

Cooperative Developer

Margo is both Co-Director of the Detroit Community Wealth Fund and a MSW student at the University of Michigan. She has been working with cooperatives and business development for the past 5 years. Margo loves bringing people together through food and celebration, and in 2016 founded the Detroit Kite Festival. Margo lives in Detroit with her dog, Luca.

Nyasia Valdez

Digital Stewards Trainer

Nyasia is a community organizer and a lifelong resident of Southwest Detroit. She serves as both the Digital Stewards Trainer for Grace in Action Collectives and the Program Manager for Inside Southwest Detroit. She is interested in teaching community members about technology so they can have access and ownership to information. Nyasia loves hot sauce and is a jalapeño eating champ.

David Camarena

Screen Printing and Design Trainer

David Camarena was born and raised in Southwest Detroit. Influenced by art as long as he has been able to hold a pencil in his hand, David loves the feeling of turning his pencil drawings into digital art. He has been printing since he was 12 years old and has created logos, t-shirt designs, business card designs, and flyers. Since 2010, David has personally printed over 10,000 shirts.

Sean Coté

Graphic Design Trainer and Youth Development Director

Sean is a graphic designer and developer, but too distracted to stick to those full time. Educated at Judson University and from a union family, he works with Radical Productions to keep spreading design and coding through community and project based training.

Luis Yante-Gonzalez

Coding and Computer Engineer Trainer

Luis started at Radical Productions at the very beginning. He left us for college at Princeton, and returned to immediately jumped back in and teach coding and computer science while working at Ford.

Cooperative Support Team

Valinda Vincent

Financial Manager and Bookkeeper

Valinda has always had a love affair with numbers and knew at the age of 18 that she would one day work in the field of accounting. After earning her BBA at the University of Michigan, she began working for Ford Motor Company. During her career at Ford, she earned an MBA from Eastern Michigan University and volunteered her accounting skills to various non-profit and religious organizations. After 37 years at Ford Motor in various accounting and finance positions, she retired but continues to use her number skills for non-profits. In her spare time, she plays the violin with the Redford Civic Symphony Orchestra and plays with clay at the Village Potter’s Guild in Plymouth.