Skip to content

Cooperatives

Free Stores Offer an Alternative to the Exploitative Capitalist Economy

We all love a good bargain, and are sometimes willing to go to great lengths to secure one. But for a few hours at Woodbine, an experimental hub in Ridgewood, Queens, New York, thrifting was entirely free and there wasn’t a catch. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a flood of people showed up to the space 30 minutes before its “Free Store” event was supposed to begin. At a free store, people are encouraged to bring things they no longer need, but are too nice to throw away, and take things they want or need without any questions asked. It’s meant to be an experimental space for building an economy based in solidarity, not sales or barter, and to harness the immense amounts of waste and excess generated in capitalist economies. Pop-up models encourage people to congregate in one space on a particular day, and the momentary disruption of norms generates a buzzy atmosphere that can be conducive for building community.

Catalyzing Worker Co-ops And The Solidarity Economy

So, some quick things, and I'm going to go through some examples actually for everything on this list. Co-op workplaces: you can soft launch a co-op workplace as a pop up business while building community support. So you don't have to actually get a building together, you know, there are ways to do it. So you don't need to be renting a big expensive building downtown in the beginning. And many co-ops also use crowdfunding or even grants to get off the ground. And there's different kinds of funding available, so you can kind of think about, what your  business model looks like and and how you might approach bringing in outside funds, if that's the route that you want to or need to take. And I should say, as you can see, pretty much most people under 40 at this point are going to need a level of financial help, and that's that's okay. That's just kind of part of where the economy is for our generation.

The Genius Of Ella Jo Baker

Ella Jo Baker will be inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame as an “Unsung Hero” at a ceremony at the National Press Club on Oct. 6 in Washington DC. Ella Baker is well-regarded as a giant in the Civil Rights Movement, known for her unique participatory grassroots organizing style and also for her ability to galvanize young people to bring a militancy in the struggle to end segregation. But Baker is less known for her innovative organizing prowess before the 1960s – forming a network of self-help cooperatives to bring economic relief to black people during the Depression. “Ella Baker was one of the most effective, original and masterful organizers of the 20th century,” one scholar noted about the woman who became a Civil Rights legend (Tutashinda, 2010, p. 33).

Our Business Schools Have A Blindspot

Tranby is an Indigenous adult education school in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Glebe. Founded in 1957, its graduates include Eddie Mabo, who went on to win the most significant land rights legal battle in Australian history – overturning the fiction of terra nullius. What makes Tranby special is not just being Australia’s oldest not-for-profit independent Indigenous education provider. It is the type of education it provides – teaching the skills needed to manage organisations and communities democratically. It teaches co-operation, and the skills to run co-operative organisations. This makes it a rarity in business education.

African Heritage Food Co-Op

The African Heritage Food Co-op(AHFC) was formed so that Black communities in Western New York State, including Niagara Falls and Buffalo, can take ownership of their food system, create jobs and use resources to improve the health and well-being of residents. For too long, the economic and political structures have failed Black residents creating little or no access to supermarkets, banks and political representation. AHFC is working to change that by overcoming systemic obstacles, empowering inner city neighbourhoods and reversing systems of oppression and discrimination. Founder Alex Wright explains how this community-owned, community-operated co-op began and how it works to build a local economy that includes everyone!

Konda Mason On Land, Race, Money, And Spirit

For African-American farmers -- afflicted by the legacy of slavery, racism, and land theft -- the struggle for emancipation has not been easy. I was therefore excited to learn about Jubilee Justice, a fledgling project that is trying to reclaim farmland for BIPOC farmers and secure their economic livelihoods. Besides embracing cooperatives and community land trusts, Jubilee Justice is dedicated to an open-source, climate-friendly type of rice farming and to courageous "transformational learning journeys" for racial healing. You can learn more about these experiments in commoning in my interview with Konda Mason on the latest episode of my podcast Frontiers of Commoning models of restorative economics and finance.

The Twin City Co-op Wars: An Interview With Erik Esse

In this episode of All Things Co-op, Cinar and Kevin talk with Erik Esse, the producer of the new documentary The Co-op Wars. The Co-op Wars traces the history of the food cooperative movement in the mid to late 1970s in Minnesota's Twin Cities. The rapid development of the food co-op network in the area prompted a split between anarchist "hippies" and Bolsheviks who styled themselves as the “Cooperative Organization” and set about taking over the People's Warehouse by force. The film provides powerful lessons for cooperative organizations and activists today. As Erik and the ATC guys dissect the film and its implications, they touch on the role of traditional politics, the limits of "third-worldism" in the first world, the mainstreaming of co-ops, the potential influence of COINTELPRO, and much more.

The History Of African American Cooperative Eco-Systems

This session is the fourth installment of the Black Labor, Solidarity Economy, and Movement Lawyering Series, Co-organized by the Workers' Rights institute and Julian Hill and hosted in collaboration with Coalition for Racial Equity and Democratic Economies (CREDE), the Georgetown Law Socialist Students Union, ONE DC, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), and Claudia Jones School for Political Education. In this session, Jessica Gordon-Nembhard will discuss the history of African American mutual aid and cooperative economics, Black cooperative economic thought, the most prolific periods in the US African American Cooperative movement, and contemporary and previous examples of worker-owned cooperatives, lessons learned, and the way forward.

Venezuelan Cooperatives

Dario Azzellini tells Theresa Alt about Venezuelan cooperatives. The Chavez government supported the formation of cooperatives. Many formed; few really succeeded in operating cooperatively. Liberation theology also had been encouraging cooperatives. Other cooperatives arose when entrepreneurs and landowners left Venezuela and the workers took over. Later initiating cooperatives was given to the local-government communes. Local communes have played a more constructive role than central government. Recorded June 8, 2022.

Steps To Organizing A Cooperative

I am with USDA Rural Development, a long time co-op developer, and we have Alex Stone, the Executive Director of CooperationWorks!, and we are pleased that we are able to offer this first in a series. What we're going to present today is just the basics on the steps to forming a cooperative. So I've been a co-op developer, based in my home state of Wisconsin. I've helped organize about 35 different cooperatives in all kinds of different industry sectors. And I'd like to share with you some knowledge that that the field of cooperative development has developed, and some personal lessons I've learned along the way that I'd like to share with you as well.

This Appalachian Town Uses Co-ops To Build New Communities

The birthplace of bluegrass and home to the oldest mountain range east of the Mississippi River, Southern Appalachia is not only fertile soil for the sharing economy, but a co-op-driven movement known as the solidarity economy. Aimed at generating locally rooted wealth and ensuring its equitable distribution, the solidarity economy is fiercely democratic. For Sara Chester, co-executive director and founder of The Industrial Commons (TIC), a 501(c)3 organization that fosters employee ownership, in a solidarity economy “workers are appreciated not just for their labor but their ideas, insights, and innovations. Workers are not just a piece of the business, they are the reason the business exists.” Sometimes referred to as the co-op model, this approach is about creating prosperous and resilient communities by emphasizing worker agency and ownership, environmental sustainability, and the value of place.

Resident-Owned Resilience

Residents of manufactured housing communities (MHCs) are disproportionately vulnerable to both hazards and displacement. The cooperative ownership model of resident-owned communities (ROCs) pioneered by ROC USA helps MHC residents resist displacement, but little research assesses how cooperative tenure impacts hazard vulnerability. To fill this gap, we conduct a spatial analysis of 234 ROC USA sites; analyze the co-op conversion process; and interview ROC USA staff, technical assistance providers, and resident co-op leaders. Although ROC USA communities, like other MHCs, face elevated exposure and sensitivity to hazards, we find that ROC USA’s model supports communities’ adaptive capacity by increasing access to financial resources, bridging formal and informal knowledge and skills, and improving social and institutional capacity. This networked cooperative model represents a scalable form of transformative adaptation by enabling low-income communities to address the underlying causes of uneven hazard vulnerabilities that are intensifying under climate change.

Trailer Park Residents Take On Venture Capitalists—And Win

Durango, Colorado - On a cold January day at the height of ski season, as tourists check into Durango’s resort hotels and wealthy vacationers roll suitcases into their second homes, Alejandra Chavez pulls away from her single wide trailer on the outskirts of town and drives the two-lane road south to look for a new place to live in New Mexico. Chavez dreads the prospect of making this same 1.5‑hour-drive, back and forth, every day, but she sees few options. Her work is in Durango, but Durango, it seems, may no longer have a home for her. Chavez, 30, moved to the area 18 years ago to join her parents, who fled economic desolation in Mexico and found work in Durango. In 2008, the family bought their trailer in Westside Mobile Home Park for $12,000.

Three Examples Of Large Tech Co-ops

The most valuable companies in the stock market today can be found in the technology sector. The first publicly traded company in history to reach a $1 trillion valuation was Apple in 2018. While it took the company more than 40 years to reach that milestone, less than four years later its valuation has increased by a further two trillion, reaching another record breaking $3 trillion. The “trillion dollar club” has also since expanded to include three more companies - all of them in the technology sector. However, the markets appear to be falling out of love with the big tech . Earlier in 2022 Facebook lost $230bn in value in the biggest one-day stock plunge in history. It has since been overshadowed by several similar collapses that have (as of today) erased more than $2.6 trillion from the value of the five largest tech companies since the start of the year.

How China Strengthened Food Security And Fought Poverty

The Covid-19 pandemic, the ensuing supply-chain crisis, and high rates of inflation around the world have led to rising food prices and fears of famine. These cascading and interlocking problems have pushed governments to prioritize economic self-sufficiency and food security. China is leading the way in this struggle. Beijing has shown how to strengthen food sovereignty, and simultaneously fight poverty, with a multi-pronged approach that combines state-funded agricultural cooperatives, stockpiling of nonperishable staples, a crackdown on waste, and government investment in new technologies. While the United Nations warns of “the specter of a global food shortage,” the Chinese government has provided countries with an alternative model to meet the needs of their people.
Sign Up To Our Daily Digest

Independent media outlets are being suppressed and dropped by corporations like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our daily email digest before it’s too late so you don’t miss the latest movement news.