Ask any of the pioneers of the Twin Cities cooperative movement if they recognize the name Annie Young, and chances are they’ll say yes.
In 1981, after helping start the Wiscoy Valley Land Cooperative, Young hitchhiked with her infant son across southwestern Minnesota to attend gatherings of food co-op activists. Eventually she moved to Minneapolis to accept a job as membership coordinator for Seward Co-op. Like many other co-ops in the Twin Cities at the time, Seward was in rough financial shape. “In the 1980s, as the [cooperative] movement grew and hippies started getting married, having children, or going back to school, the lifestyle changed. That lifestyle shift changed how the co-ops functioned. Everyone couldn’t work on free love at that point,” Young recounted. She brought order to the membership-development program and established Seward Co-op’s membership-numbering system that’s still in place today.
Young left Seward Co-op in 1984 to become the executive director of the All-Co-op Assembly. In that role, she conducted education, training, and outreach for co-ops in the upper Midwest. This was a difficult time for the co-op movement, and many stores, especially those in smaller, rural towns, shut down.
Eventually, Young returned to Seward Co-op and was elected to its board of directors, while also serving as an election official with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation board. She relished helping to organize the twenty-five year All-Co-op Reunion celebration that took place during the summer of 1997.
Young was also a driving force behind the recent initiative to open Wirth Cooperative Grocery in the Harrison neighborhood of Minneapolis. Once Wirth Co-op came to fruition, Young succeeded in bridging two of her passions: improving the community life of urban residents and making whole, healthy food available to those who need it.
Annie Young will be remembered at Seward as a witty, sharp cooperator who was fun to interact with. Her confidence and well-intended, slight mischievousness are points of inspiration for others. Rest in peace, Annie.