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Cooperatives

If This Is Us At 20, What Could We Be At 40?

My main work over the past 44 years has been about figuring out how we can consciously develop democracy all over this country. This has included 16 years of active involvement with the cooperative/solidarity economic movements. I believe that bringing this developmental perspective to the cooperative movement can be a rich and productive way for celebrating the 20th birthday of the USFWC. I have two suggestions for consciously growing the worker co-op movement, which naturally reach beyond to the whole cooperative economic movement. The first is to make full use of both Eleanor Ostrom's work and the wisdom emerging from the field of cultural evolution.

Twenty Years Of Building An Economic Alternative To Capitalism In The US

The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives recently turned twenty years old. Clearing the FOG speaks with Dr. Jessica Gordon-Nembhard, a professor and author of "Collective Courage: A History of African-American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice," and a charter member of the USFWC, about the work to create a national cooperative organization and the rise of the cooperative economy in the United States. She spoke about the role that cooperatives have played in advancing social and economic justice, the benefits of cooperatives not only to the individual but also more broadly to their communities, and the history of cooperatives that preceded the rise of capitalism and also how cooperative economies offer a better alternative to capitalism.

From ‘An Economy Of Hope’ To The US Federation Of Worker Cooperatives

The first Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy was attended by 96 people mostly worker co-op owners and members of support organizations from Ohio to Maine, New Orleans to Washington, DC, and in between. We had agreed we would have been happy if only 20 people showed up, so having almost 100 people at our first conference was quite an achievement! We also felt strongly that any democratic workplace (such as 100% worker owned ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Companies) and democratically run nonprofits) was welcome.

The Benefits Of Indivisible Reserves And Their Connection To Communities

The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) issued a restatement of cooperative principles in 1995 that included the idea of indivisible reserves in its third principle as a discretionary option for cooperatives. When cooperatives build financial reserves, they may specify a certain share or all of it as indivisible, in other words, not transferrable to members. For cooperatives with indivisible reserves, closures of these businesses or acquisitions by private investors, would result in transfers of these designated capital funds to other cooperatives or to organizations supporting their communities. The ICA’s inclusion of indivisible reserves has an implicit connection to its seventh principle, Concern for Community.

The US Worker Cooperative Movement Turns 20

These are examples of worker co-ops in the United States in the late 20th century. While doing great work, and with a wealth of cooperative experience between them, before 2000 these somewhat isolated islands of democratic work and community care stood alone on the U.S. economic landscape, operating separately, and independent of each other. Maybe they didn’t even know that each other existed, or what they were doing to solve similar problems – especially those on opposite coasts. And most people in the U.S. knew little to nothing about worker co-ops. Regional worker co-op conferences started to help bring co-ops like these together, not just locally but regionally - with the goal to form a national network.

Cooperatives In China And Prospects For Their Significant Growth

During my recent visit to China from April 14th to 24th, 2024, I had the opportunity to engage with seasoned members of the cooperative movement, among whom were British nationals who live in China. A highlight of my trip was spending a substantial part of a day, together with colleagues from ‘Friends of Socialist China’, exploring an agricultural cooperative in the north-eastern Jilin province. The law on Specialised Farmer Cooperatives was passed by the National People’s Congress, coming into effect on July 1 2007. As stated by Tim Zachernuk In his excellent study of cooperatives in China: “The law acknowledges international cooperative experience as codified in the cooperative principles formulated by the International Cooperative Alliance.

Food Co-Op Tests New Approach To Equitable Community Solar

A group of energy equity advocates in Boston is launching a community solar cooperative they say could be a scalable model for both reducing carbon emissions and building wealth in disadvantaged communities. The Boston Community Solar Cooperative is in the pre-development stage of an 81 kilowatt solar project on the roof of the Dorchester Food Co-op, in one of the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods. Residents will be able to buy or earn ownership stakes in the project, which will be governed by a board of community stakeholders.

Synergies Among Fair Trade And Cooperative Economic Principles

Cooperatives have become increasingly prominent as organizational models amid the crisis conditions facing the world. Rather than advocating for the replacement of the capitalism-based economy with an entirely new model, there’s a growing trend of critiquing and adapting capitalism. Governments, international organizations, and the private sector are now including cooperatives in their agendas, recognizing their potential to blend traditional cooperative goals with newer social entrepreneurship objectives.

If The Workers Take A Notion

“Works for All,” the latest film by Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young, shows what can happen when workers and unions take worker coops seriously. The story is told by the workers and organizers themselves, with minimal narration. “That’s by design,” Dworkin says. “The film is not about us, it’s about them.” From their stories you get a fuller picture of what it can mean to be in charge of your own workplace—from better wages and decision-making power to fundamental respect. In one telling moment, cooperative food hub (distribution center) manager Zeke Coleman talks about his previous job driving a truck for a pork company.

The Story Of Rural Electric Cooperatives

At a moment when the world is awakening to the clear and present need to transition our energy system, a hopeful light gleams from the rural landscapes of America. The Rural Power Coalition (RPC), a diverse alliance of US advocacy groups serving rural communities from Alabama to Alaska, has taken another step forward with the release of “Power to the People: The Story of Rural Electric Cooperatives.” This animated short film that premiered today during the annual PowerXchange Conference in San Antonio, Texas, is not just a tale of the past; it’s a clarion call for a greener, more equitable future.

Other Avenues Grocery Cooperative

From a collection of neighborhood clubs called the Food Conspiracy, whose motto was, "If you can't walk to Food Conspiracy, it's time for a new Food Conspiracy," to the People's Food System, which included Other Avenues, Rainbow Grocery, Veritable Vegetable, and other co-ops that don't exist anymore, there's proof all over today that cooperative models work. We like the sound of that, in fact, compared to competitive businesses. Other Avenues' doors opened in 1974. By 1987, a hybrid system of worker and community management was adopted. And the worker-owned model that exists today started back in 1999.

Baltimore’s Co-Ops Show There’s Another Way To Work

Baltimore has become what many consider to be ground zero in the emerging “solidarity economy” and the formation of worker-owned, cooperatively run businesses. There’s something important going on here, and there’s a lot that we can all learn from our fellow workers who are in the cooperative space—people who are living, breathing proof that there’s another way to run a business, that there's another way to run our economy, and that there are other ways we can treat work and workers. At a recent event hosted by the Baltimore Museum of Industry titled "Work Matters: Building a Worker-Owned Co-op," Max moderated a panel including workers and representatives from Common Ground Bakery Café, Taharka Bros Ice Cream, A Few Cool Hardware Stores, and the Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy (BRED).

Inside Igalia: Scaling A Co-op Beyond 100 Members

Igalia is an open source tech co-op success story. We have been around for 22 years; we have 140 members. We play an essential role in several open web platform projects such as Chromium/Blink, WebKit (WPE & WebKitGTK), Firefox and Servo. We have contributed to GNOME / GTK+ / Maemo, WebKit / WebKitGtk+ / JSC, Blink / V8, Gecko / SpiderMonkey projects, amongst others. The reason we started as a co-op and the reason the focus of our work is Free and Open Source software are one and the same. Both are implementations of our values, in a word: egalitarianism. In this talk you will hear a bit about our history.

Creating A Support System For Platform Cooperatives In Thailand

Since its first proposal in 2014, Platform Cooperativism has evolved into a global movement as an alternative to Platform Capitalism. The concept has been adopted in over 546 known projects across 50 countries. The establishment of the Platform Cooperativism Consortium (PCC), serving as a knowledge hub for the global community, marked a significant milestone. PCC fosters inspiration, knowledge, outcomes, and impacts—I am a testament to this, considering myself a small yet integral piece of the evidence. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I enrolled in the online course ‘Platform Co-op Now!’

Stitching A Co-Operative Future In Victoria, BC

In the heart of Victoria, British Columbia, a remarkable transformation story has been threaded by The Make House. What started as a 10-year-old sole proprietorship blossomed into a worker co-operative in December 2022. Host Robin Puga had an enlightening conversation with Tanya King, Studio Manager and Board Vice-President, unraveling the journey behind this creative pivot. he Make House began as a sole proprietorship. Faced with the prospect of the owner selling the business, the staff team decided to reimagine the future of The Make House. The decision to shift to a worker co-operative model was fueled by a desire to deepen their community roots and engage in democratic decision-making
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