The roots of modern cooperatives stretch back more than 150 years, but it wasn't until 1995 that the International Co-operative Alliance adopted seven core values around which all cooperatives should operate. When the United Nations declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives, these principles renewed an important conversation about what it means to be a credit union, specifically why they exist and how they are different by design.

Experience tells us that governance in member-owned co-operatives is distinct from that in investor-owned businesses, yet we do not understand fully how this operates in practice.  This research study of governance in large co-operatives helps to fill the gaps in our knowledge.

 

Recently I jumped on a train to Birmingham and attended the founding conference of Students For Co-operation, a new national federation supporting students to set up co-operatives while at university.

The Twin Oaks Community wants to make its Communities Conference an annual event. Attendance has been increasing yearly. They need to build a permanent kitchen to keep up with the growing demand for this powerful demonstration of intentional community.

Help Map the Movement

So, what should I put on the map?

Your local community garden. That artist-owned studio space you love. The babysitting coop your neighbors started. Any place that is helping regular people live the independent, connected life they want to live. And if it’s owned by the people who work or shop or connect there, that’s even better.

See the map and add to it on the Freelancers Union website.

If you happen to be looking for your morning coffee near Golden Gate Park and the bright red storefront of the Arizmendi Bakery attracts your attention, congratulations. You have found what the readers of The San Francisco Bay Guardian, a local alt-weekly, deem the city’s best bakery. But it has another, less obvious, distinction.

“We’re re-writing the standard storyline for a successful organic food business,” says Dan Rosenberg, founder of the twelve-year-old Greenfield, Massachusetts company Real Pickles, which makes naturally fermented and raw pickles from regionally-grown vegetables in a 100% solar-powered facility.

Sharing has taken root and the #SharingSpring is in bloom. Around the world, people who understand the transformational power of the sharing movement are gathering together to collaborate, participate, rethink, swap, celebrate and create. Inspired by the Occupy movement, Arab Spring and M15, the #SharingSpring is about creating solutions to pressing issues in our communities right now.

Arizmendi Association Fee Formula

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We know that if people are to use resources mindfully, to manage them well, and to both demand and correctly use appropriate end of life systems, then we need to design systems that they are easy and convenient to use.

There are two ‘muscles’ that can be flexed in relation to resource and waste management – the Circular Economy muscle, and the Access Economy muscle. A lot of muscle-building effort has gone into the former, and the latter is a muscle we’ve only just discovered we can build.

[Editor's Note: we are passing along this email notice from the Ohio Employee Ownership Conferece.  The conference will take place on April 24th, with pre-conference events on April 23rd.]

A Wealth of Opportunity: Employee Ownership Fuels Growth

We have a few updates for you:

American consumers benefit to the tune of $8.5 billion due to credit unions’ presence in the marketplace.

And the nation’s 98 million credit union members received $6.1 billion in benefits during the year ended Sept. 30, 2013, in the form of lower loan rates, higher dividends, and fewer and lower fees.

[I]f we accept that difference in human communities is good and normal and expected, then we have got to learn how to be at ease with the range of human experience, bodies, cultures, subcultures, and values. If we want to be at ease with the complex reality of human difference, then we have got to learn how to be good to each other when we bump up against it – which we will, regularly, unless we want a conformist monoculture in which everyone behaves, thinks, and feels the same way.

The emerging constellation of alternative economic activities celebrated on Shareable.net goes by many names—shared, gift, solidarity, social, cooperative, rooted, generative, and new economy are just a few—but they share many core values and aspirations in common.

At six-foot-six he was a towering breath of fresh air for the thousands of Co-operative Group employees who pined for change.

And, for a while, co-op democrats inside and outside the Group were in awe of a fresh change in management from Euan Sutherland; a renewed business focus.

But as will undoubtedly become clear in the Kelly Report next month, there is and always has been a deep divide between the elected board members at the Group and the management they appoint – a phenomenon not just exclusive to this co-operative.

Southern pews and pulpits weren’t the only source of people power during the long civil rights movement. So, too, were cooperative economic enterprises. These worker or consumer-owned alternatives to U.S. capitalism helped train and produce civil rights leaders from A. Philip Randolph to Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer to sitting congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.).

Many design agencies and arts organisations use a constant churn of skilled and productive long-term interns, sometimes comprising a third or more of the workforce, with only the more senior employees earning what would have been considered a decent income twenty years ago.

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