Consumer Cooperatives

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

 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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The Park Slope Food Co-op (PSFC) earned $39.4 million in its last fiscal year, reports Fortune, which translates into a per-square-foot average of over $6,500.  By comparison Trader Joe's leads its competitors with an average  per-square-foot earning of $1,750, while one estimate has Whole Foods's doing less than $850. 

The Fortue story examines how PSFC does it.

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Cooperative solutions for times of crisis
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People in a small North Dakota town are working to buy their local grocery store and turn it into a community-owned cooperative.
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By Yvonne Poirier

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by Jim Johnson, GEO Collective

Past issues of GEO have reported on the emergence of a particular type of worker cooperative, the home care cooperative. In the 1980s, the federal government followed the lead of state governments like Wisconsin and acknowledged that elderly and disabled people who need help in day-to-day living are best served by in-home assistance. Medicare and Medicaid funding that would have otherwise been used only for nursing homes would now be applicable to home care services.

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A brainstorm on strategies for local economic development
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A new report from the Insitute for Local Self-Reliance explores democratic routes to energy independence.
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By Len Krimerman

In 1995, the International Cooperative Alliance adopted seven cooperative principles to define and guide cooperatives throughout the world. Briefly stated, the "traditional seven" include: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for community.

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The cooperative business model is very popular in Vermont. Why is that? By Stephen Morris.
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By Rob Brown, IHA office manager, and Bethany Schroeder, IHA board president

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By Len Krimerman

Every year the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation honors one of its members with the "Worker Co-op Merit Award"--an idea we might well want to consider for our own USA Federation. This year they selected Edmonton-based MCHB, a truly remarkable venture which is addressing, in a very special way, the otherwise unmet needs of that city's "immigrant and refugee" communities.

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