Gleanings

2018 has been a year of growth and growing pains for Cooperation Jackson. We’ve experienced some significant advances and some setbacks. Over the last four years of our organization, we have learned a lot that we aim to build upon to improve our practice and advance our work in 2019 and beyond.

The best system does not help if we can’t do it in our groups. How can we keep our teams on track?

I assume that we’re talking about a scenario where the group has been trained on process. As colleague Jerry Koch-Gonzalez says: sociocracy depends more on good followers than on good facilitators. Culture training does not change overnight, and none of us have grown up in non-coercive systems. It takes practice and more practice to replace our internalized coercive patterns by non-coercive, truly collaborative ones.

Matthias Scheiblehner on why his Seattle construction firm Metis converted into a worker co-op.

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Last month I conducted a series of workshops at a brace cooperative houses in Austin TX. While there I got into an interesting conversation with folks about the pros and cons of open membership (where anyone can join if their rent check clears). I want to share the highlights of that exchange.

The Co-op is a student housing cooperative on Landfair Avenue, which includes three buildings that house around 400 students total. Residence is open to any college student. In return for reduced rent, students must work a four-hour shift every week in an assigned area, such as the kitchen, the facilities or the mailroom.

Justin Downing, a fourth-year political science student, moved into the Co-op this fall. Residents in their first quarter are obligated to work either in the facilities or the kitchen, which serves 19 meals a week.

In a limited-equity cooperative, members buy a share in the development, which gives them the right to occupy one of the units. Members pay monthly fees to cover maintenance expenses and participate in decision-making around building management. To ensure that limited-equity cooperatives remain affordable, shares have restricted resale values and members must also fit income limitations.

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