Networking & Collaboration

by Devra Gartenstein

The more I read and learn about cooperatives and the more experience I get participating in one, the more provocative I find the question, “What is a cooperative?”

The legal definition is reasonably clear, covering two main prerequisites:  one vote per member, and equity and profit allocations based on patronage—or participation—rather than monetary contribution.

Uberfication has become shorthand for many new concepts—from the sharing economy to any significantly disruptive digital business model. But what exactly did Uber do that was materially different to earlier disruptive digital businesses? In short:

  • It created software…

  • To replace existing industry-wide operational structures…

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[Editor's note: this video from FairShares Association provides brief introductions to two new on-line collaborative decision making tools from New Zealand's Enspiral network.  Loomio is a tool that allows group discussion and consensus building, while Cobudget is for use specifically with group budgeting decisions.  Loomio was successfully crowdfunded in 2014 and released version 1.0 t

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[Editor's note: this short documentary looks at the multi-faceted company Alaffia, based in Togo, West Africa.  Alaffia's three cooperatives (producing shea butter, baskets, and coconuts) provide economic independence for the women involved and fund empowerment and development projects for local communities.  In the US, Alaffia's fair trade products are sold at many food co-ops and natural food stores.  While the company may not be entirely cooperative (the US part of the company does not appear to be run cooperativ

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In this inspiring talk from TEDxDouglas (Isle of Man), Valerie Miller discusses the founding of Mother T—a community center whose objective is to rebuild community, facilitate connection and tackle problems such as loneliness and isolation.  She also highlights how time banks, unlike traditional social service providers, enrolls the help of the people it supports, and focuses on the assets and abilities of community members, rather than their deficits.  Miller argues that this empowering approach has the potential to revitalize community spirit and improve people's lives and relationships.

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cross-posted from Seeds Beneath

When I first got involved in the co-op movement I didn’t do it because I thought the co-operative model was an end in itself.

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[Editor's note: In the opening speech from this year's CommonBound conference, Ed Whitfield, co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities (F4DC), discusses the necessary conditions for creating an economy that provides not only the knowledge, but also the means, for economic security to everyone on an equal basis.  He discusses the intersection of economic and environmental justice, the inherent biases of  our s

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[Author's note: A revised version of this paper will appear in Capital Dilemma: Growth and Inequality in Washington, DC, edited by Sabiyha Prince and Derek Hyra.]

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Go to the GEO front page

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Low-income workers in Seattle are getting another economic boost. Five months after the local government became the first in the country to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15—making it the highest in the country—the Federal government's Small Business Administration has funded a local business support group to help train disadvantaged Seattle workers to develop worker cooperatives and home-based or cottage businesses.

 

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[Editor's note: In this video, Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation, discusses the intersection of cooperatives and the commons; problems with traditional co-op models; and ways to structure cooperative enterprises to more effectively create an alternative economy around collective wealth creation instead of private wealth extraction.  More videos from Open Everything: A Collaborative Economy Convergence, held in Ireland this September, can be found

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Following the first four encuentros internacionales (international gatherings) of the “Workers’ Economy,” held in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, from 2007 to 2013, and after the first Regional Gathering of Europe and the Mediterranean, in Marseille, France in January 2014, it is now proposed to conduct Regional Gatherings in every even-numbered year and Internat

The possibility at hand

Gar Alperovitz  writes extensively about deep economic changes slowly taking place across the country, region by region.

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Can people with different roles in an enterprise—such as producers, workers and consumers—all form a cooperative? This workshop discusses important considerations and strategies to avoid what some argue are inevitable conflicts. The workshop was led by attorney Jenny Kassan and Spiral Foods Cooperative member Tucker Hemquist and took place at the 2014 California Cooperatives Conference.

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On June 21, 2014, the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives (NYC NOWC) hosted the first annual NYC Conference on Worker Cooperatives (videos of most of the conference sessions are posted here.) Two hundred people gathered at the CUNY Law School in Queens.

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Amherst, MA – September - 2014 - Levellers Press, a worker co-operative, announced the publication of Building Co-operative Power! Stories and Strategies from Worker Co-Operatives in the Connecticut River Valley. 

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[Editor's Note: This interview with Ben Sandel of CDS Consulting Co-op was recorded in November of 2013.  CDS provides consulting and resources for start-up food co-ops across the country.  Ben was also involved in starting the Friendly City Food Co-op in Harrisonburg VA.  Ben was interviewed by GEO Collective and Democracy At Work Network member, Jim Johnson.  Parts two and three of this intervie

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