Consumer Cooperatives

Member-owned and democratically-controlled associations though which consumers collectively purchase and distribute goods/services.

[Editor's Note: In this section of our interview with Ben Sandel of the CDS Consulting Co-op, Jim Johnson asks how food co-ops can increase their share of the growing organic and local food markets.  Sandel suggests re-investment of profits along with a focus on growth, and points to Austin's Wheatsville Cooperative as a notable exemplar.  The need for new co-op finacial models, appropriate for urban and lower-income co-ops is also discussed.  You can read part one of the interview t

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[Editor's note: Jo Bird of the UK's Co-operative Business Group (CBC), has asked GEO to share this petition with our readers (see below).  The Co-operative News recently published an article about the petition.  Marie-Claire Kidd explains:

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The following is a personal story about corporate cooptation at my food co-op in Northern California, North Coast Cooperative Inc.

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Co-op attorney Don Kreis discusses the legal framework under which co-ops operate in Vermont and the US, as well as a number of specific issues unique to co-ops.

 

See more interviews by Cooperative Vermont on their Youtube channel

Go to the GEO front page

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Editor's note: This excellent documentary by Ric Sternberg details the "re-cooperativisation" of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative in central Texas as well as the steps towards environmental sustainability that some other electric co-ops are taking.  You can find more from Ric on his Youtube channel,  and be sure to check out his latest project:

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No Bosses Here! a manual on working collectively and cooperatively (1981) by Vocations for Social Change Staff, Karen Brandow and Jim McDonnell

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There is a great need to re-invent the newspaper so it can serve the needs of particular communities everywhere. The Banyan Project is exploring the possibility of using the consumer co-op model for a community-based internet news service that would help communities advance their own interests.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article emerged out of conversations Michael had with Terry Mollner and his thinking about creating institutions grounded in the idea the common good. Terry’s book, The Love Skill: We Are Mastering the 7 Layers of Human Maturity, explores these ideas in depth. It will be out in May of this year. He has written a lot on the Mondragon Cooperative experiment, which can be accessed at www.trusteeship.org).

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The International Year of the Cooperative is inspiring people in many ways. A month after the official UN declaration, cooperative organizations in Pittsburgh, including The East End Food Cooperative, Ujamaa Collective and those interested in starting cooperative organizations, gathered at The Big Idea cooperative bookstore for kick-off program.

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What Steps Will You Take to Observe the International Year of Cooperatives?

 

Over the past year, staff of the National Cooperative Business Association has traveled the country talking with members and staff from cooperatives of all types, across all sectors of the economy. The topic has been how to take advantage of the marketing opportunity that is the International Year of Cooperatives. I’m writing here to talk about what’s being planned and what is available to cooperatives—but also to discuss the importance of marketing in and of itself.

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Could Cooperatives Become the Fastest Growing Business Model?

 

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In the midst of an inspirational TED talk by Arthur Potts Dawson, a restaurateur from London, in the thick of talk about sustainability and reduction of waste, we get a  quick sermon on co-operative supermarkets and exactly how important they are. Priceless if brief.

Bringing the stories of local economic innovators to life through 7 short films
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 Author's self-portrait outside of Mondragon headquarters.

 

Five of nine of us touring Mondragon arrive on Sunday in Bilbao, make our way to Mondragon-Arrastata, get settled and find food at the Monte bar a short walk from The Hotel Mondragon where we are staying for the week-long tour.  I fall into bed at about 10:30 (4:30 pm EST), the 12 hour journey and time zone change wearing me out.  Tonight there is no reading of The Kemetian Tree of Life, my nightly fix.   

Where will our movement be in another 30 years? In 2040, I will be 76 years old. Chances are, if I am still alive, I will be hopefully still be blogging (or whatever the kids will be doing in those days) but I will likely not be fully involved in the movement or physically working a 40-50 hour work week. Almost all of our current leadership will be in the same position. The current crop of  Toxic Soil Busters will be pushing 50 (like I am now). What should our movement look like in that age?
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The top/down system we seek to change is embedded in us--in our nervous systems, our beliefs, our attitudes, our habits, and our behavior. We are what we are seeking to change.  It is not just out there.  And not only is it in here, but it is out there to a large extent because we, the change agents, re-produce it over and over and over in every kind of relationship we have. This is by no means just a tragic irony. No way. This is a great opportunity.

Thank you, John McNamara for advancing the conversation about the opportunities, issues, and problems of taking the cooperative advantage to scale.
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