Western Europe

“Co-operative culture eats co-operative governance for breakfast!”   

An article gleaned from England’s Co-operative News talks about how to generate and nurture a strong co-operative culture. It identifies six factors for sustaining a co-operative culture.

[Editor's note: this is the third entry in a series of articles on European ecovillages by Matthew Slater.  Parts one and two looked at Spain's Lakabe and Amalurra communities.  Watch for more stories in this series as Matthew continues his tour.]

Sieben Linden (Seven Linden trees) sits amongst forests, fields and sparsley populated villages in the plains of Northern Germany.

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Amalurra, Basque for 'mother earth', was formed from a meditation group with life coach Irene Goikolea over 20 years ago. Wanting to take their practice further, they bought an old seminary and oriented their lives around making it beautiful and offering hospitality. Fast forward to now, and there are several gleaming buildings, including a hotel, hostel, spa, cafe, restaurant, many spaces for meetings and workshops, and a sweat-lodge next to a stream and extensive gardens.

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A continuing conversation with Thomas M. Hanna of the Democracy Collaborative, cross posted from Cooperate and No One Gets Hurt

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This article is originally appeared on www.truth-out.org

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The Mondragon Cooperative Group is ranked not only as the world’s largest worker-owned industrial cooperative group, but also as the top Basque industrial group, tenth in Spain with 80,000 personnel, a presence in 70 countries, and winner of the 2013 Financial Times “Boldness in Business” award.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: In the article below Alberto Corbino gives us a view of the Solidarity Economy movement in Italy. He will be doing a lecture tour in the US this summmer. The idea is to continue discussing the subjects he reports on in the article here at universities, colleges, and centers of solidarity economic justice movements.

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Building a new economy and new wealth through democracy networks, green jobs, and an alternative financial system
The unpalatable fact is that we, the ardent left, count for less and less in the public's thinking about how to live together... You become creditable when others take you seriously even though they may not agree with you. To be taken seriously, you need to know when to keep silent and how to listen well; you are then extending respect and recognition to others.
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Permanent link to this article: http://geo.coop/node/584

By Christina Clamp, GEO collective member

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Our first stop is another component allied with Mongragon University called SAIOLAN. It's an incubator project for helping to launch new coops and high-tech businesses as well as training new entrepreneurs.
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Most new small businesses fail. That's a fact, whether they are in the Basque Country or in the U.S. Or anywhere else. Yet the Mondragon Coops, which all started as small worker-owned businesses, have hardly ever failed. Why? The key is in Father Jose Maria Arizmendi's original founding conception of cooperatives as the interlocking of school, factory and credit union.
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Our topic this morning is the wider range of the cooperative movement, both in the Basque Country and Spain. Mondragon is a part of the Basque Cooperative Confederation. There are currently 755 cooperatives in the Basque Country, and only 80 of them are the worker-owned MCC coops. There are a total of 537,000 members of all the coops, but only 54,919 are worker members, and 37,860 of these are the MCC worker-owners. 

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...As we left, many in our group were debating the pros and cons of global economic justice. I shared their concerns, but I also saw something else. Here was the beginnings of some of the most advanced productive forces in the world, the means of both economies of abundance and the means of clean and safe renewable energies and far lighter ecological footprints.
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I'm with a group of 25 social activists on a study tour organized by the Praxis Peace Project. Our focus is the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, a 50-year-old network of nearly 120 factories and agencies, involving nearly 100,000 workers in one way or another, and centered in the Basque Country but now spanning the globe. We're here to study the history of these unique worker-owned factories, how they work, why they have been successful, and how they might be expanded in various ways as instruments of social change.
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Permanent link to this article:  http://geo.coop/node/448

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By Erbin Crowell

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