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GEO's Mission: To help build a nation- and worldwide movement for a cooperative social economy based on democratic and responsible production, conscientious consumption, and use of capital to further social and economic justice.
Updated: 1 hour 27 min ago

How Will Public Service Co-ops Operate in Practice?

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 18:15
Link: How Will Labour’s Public Service Co-ops Operate in Practice?

Let us not forgot that former Tory prime minister, David Cameron, championed, at least rhetorically, co-op’s and ‘social enterprises’ as part of his ‘red Tory’ re-positioning of his party. The John Lewis partnership was often held up as a great example of a co-operative venture, and indeed a former CEO of the company recently became the West Midlands Tory mayor. Is this the kind of thing Labour has in mind? Paul Mason, economic journalist, Labour member and Corbyn supporter has attempted to flesh the thing out a bit, although I’m unsure whether is this just his interpretation, or has been sanctioned by the Labour leadership, as part of the official plan. Mason traces the thinking back to the Keynesian period (1945-1979), when the left in the Labour party advocated workers co-operatives rather the huge state corporations that were the model for publicly owned industries. The new plan involves rail passengers, water users etc, the workers who provide the service and bond holders, who would receive a share of any profits. All would be stakeholders in these industries. McDonnell has confirmed that this would be the case. This has the added advantage, if it works out, of getting control of privatised utilities at no extra cost to the tax payer. Mason says that it could be funded by government borrowing in this way, but it seems to me to be perfectly possible to do it by a form of ‘quantitive easing.’ Hundreds of billions of pounds has been basically created by the government to re-capitalise the banks, so that they can lend it back us, with interest. Why not use this money to buy back public utilities?Read the rest at London Green Left Blog  Go to the GEO front page
Categories: News

The Ostrom principles and Sociocracy

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 17:28
Link: The Ostrom principles and Sociocracy

If you are not familiar with Ostrom’s work that earned her the Nobel prize: Ostrom investigated how communities succeed or fail at managing resources that are shared — for instance that piece of land in a small village where everyone’s cows graze: In studying those cases, there had been some debate on whether those shared efforts are inherently bound to fail (see the tragedy of the commons). If everyone can let their cows graze on the commons, wouldn’t too many people over-use that shared resource? Countering this pessimistic expectation, some of these common resources are actually well-maintained. But which ones? Ostrom distilled 8 characteristics from all the cases where resource-sharing worked well and sustainably to find out what in CPR management makes the difference.

When I first read the Ostrom principles in 2016, it occurred to me that what is being asked for in the principles is exactly what a sociocratic implementation delivers. Since my work is all about making links where they suggest themselves and weaving related networks together, this article is about the connection of the commons and the nuts and bolts of governance as equals.

Read the rest at Medium


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Categories: News

Sex, succession and the co-op model

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 17:17
Link: Sex, succession and the co-op model

This decidedly unique business is a worker co-operative based in Toronto. Founded in 1997, the co-op has been voted the best sex shop by Now Toronto readers almost every year since then. No doubt, this display of affection is due in large part to its “sex positive,” safe, comfortable approach to (and wealth of information on) all things ever-present but rarely spoken of out loud – ie: the more sensuous of human activities.

The business is also actively involved in sex education and outreach — especially within local community groups and universities — and continues to provide this community service and advocacy.

Read the rest at Co-operatives First


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Categories: News

Rock City Roasters and Cafe Converts to a Worker Co-op

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 16:53
Link: Worker ownership works for everyone! The Rock City Roasters and Cafe story

To preserve a community institution and a great place to work, business owner Susanne Ward is selling Rock City Roasters and Cafe to the people who helped build it -- the employees -- with the help of the Cooperative Development Institute.

Worker ownership works for everyone! The Rock City Roasters and Cafe story

Watch more from Cooperative Development Institute.


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Categories: News

New Magazine About Platform Cooperativism

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 16:46
Link: Coops Viadriana. A new illustrated mag about Platform Cooperativism

The people behind Coops Vidriana wrote to us to let us know about their new gorgeous-looking magazine on Platform Cooperativism. It’s bilingual (German/English) and features a bunch of new articles and some drop-dead stunning design. Jana Pirlein has been kind enough to pen the following intro for the P2PF blog.

Jana Pirlein: We, a group of German university students, have just published a magazine about platform cooperativism where we discuss platform-based cooperatives as a kind of counter-movement to the increasingly widespread platform capitalism. In short: An update of the “sharing economy”.

In addition to theoretical discussions, we want to point out the very practical relevance of the topic and encourage readers to think about their own consumption behavior, as well.

The magazine is for all age groups, but especially aimed at people new to the scene. It is written bilingually in German and English and available for free through Creative Commons! Our aim is and has been to present the values, practices and protagonists behind the social movement that is currently forming around the topic of cooperativism.

More from the P2P Foundation blog

#CoopsViadrina Volume 1 from Johanna Voll



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Categories: News

Keep The Maryland Food Co-op Alive!

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 16:02
Link: Keep The Maryland Food Co-op Alive!

Your favorite worker-owned restaurant on UMD campus is threatened with closing its doors permanently. Due to unforeseeable crises and unprecedented corporate competition, they have seen a loss of inventory and sales. 

In order to keep providing the community with healthy affordable meal options, well paying jobs, and community control of and access to food sources, they need your help.

Read the rest and suppor the Maryland Food Co-op at YouCaring


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Categories: News

"I want to run my business as a cooperative, but..."

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 15:58

I received a familiar email from a long-time friend and start-up founder.  She has founded a unique brand and business model that has created a market where one had not previously existed; the dream of most entrepreneurs.  The start-up has grown rapidly and has received international acclaim in mainstream press.  A great position for any growing start-up to be in, right?  Like many start-ups, however, cash is scarce and “sweat equity” is abundant.  She said: “I’m not ready to invest in turning my business into a full-fledged cooperative, but I’d like to start down the path. What can I start doing now?”

I hear this question a lot. I hear variations of it is as well. They go something like “I want to run my business as a cooperative, but:”

Read the rest on Jason Wiener's website


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    Categories: News

    Let co-operatives run our services

    Mon, 02/12/2018 - 18:55
    Link: John Prescott: Let co-operatives run our services, not City shysters like Carillion and Capita

    Take our railways.

    Virgin and Stagecoach have made a right mess of the East Coast Line. They’ve admitted they overbid for it, can’t make the profits they’d like and are handing back the franchise three years early to get out of paying the taxpayer £2billion.

    So why don’t we set it up as a co-op?

    Let the passengers and workers oversee the train service with the Department for Transport running the line. Housing and energy can also be run as co-operatives. People join a co-op to get a home, pay low rent to live there and then hand the home back when they move. People are put before profit.

    Read the rest at Mirror Online


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    Categories: News

    Are Backbone Organizations Eroding the Norms that Make Networks Succeed?

    Mon, 02/12/2018 - 18:45
    Link: Are Backbone Organizations Eroding the Norms that Make Networks Succeed?

    ...while collaborating across sectors has become a familiar mantra of strong strategies and good governance among organizations, it took many of us by surprise when the collective impact framework proposed by FSG became synonymous with any and all forms of coordinated action in the public and nonprofit sectors.

    If this was not on your radar when Elinor Ostrom set the stage (and subsequently won a Nobel Prize) for her work on collective action theory, you might think that the collective impact model is the foundational model of how networks collaborate (or should collaborate) in today’s times. On the contrary, not only have organizations been perfecting the art of networks for decades via practical learning but also, for nearly as long, scholars have built upon and joined Ostrom’s lifelong commitment to developing sense-making structures, models, and frameworks for coordinated action. While Ostrom’s work on collective action has predominantly informed the environmental sciences on a pathway of developing incentives for coordination—determining the rules for use and institutional constraints and opportunities—the basic foundations of coordinated action toward a common goal resonate across the disciplines. No amount of new labeling can dispel the conclusion that “collective impact” is equivalent to old wine in a new bottle.

    As many people know today, the CI model proposes that five conditions should be met for a network to be effective. These are: having a common agenda; having a shared measurement system; engaging in mutually reinforcing activities; open and continuous communication; and governance of a backbone organization. The authors of the model state, “…we believe that there is no other way society will achieve large-scale progress against the urgent and complex problems of our time, unless a collective impact approach becomes the accepted way of doing business.” The authors are not wrong that tackling wicked problems is going to take audacious innovative efforts; however, what is questionable about their statement is whether the collective impact model is “the only way”—or in fact, a way at all. Many of us are still waiting for evidence that this model is the way forward, in relation to any other model already proposed.

    Read the rest at Non-Profit Quarterly


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    Categories: News

    Interview with Brendan Martin of the Working World

    Fri, 02/09/2018 - 18:23
    Link: Brendan Martin, founder and director of The Working World is interviewed by Vernon Oakes, on Everything Co-op

    Vernon Oakes, host of the Everything Co-ops radio show, interviews Brendan Martin of The Working World about economics, cooperatives and creating alternatives for a more just economy.

    Listen to the interview on Chirbit


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    Categories: News

    Incredible Edible Todmorden gives free food to everyone

    Thu, 02/08/2018 - 17:28
    Link: Incredible Edible Todmorden gives free access to locally grown food to everyone

    Back in 2007, a woman in a small town called Todmorden, in the northern part of England, dug up her prized rose garden. She planted vegetables, knocked down the garden wall, and put up a sign saying, "Help Yourself." 

    This small action grew into a movement that has transformed Todmorden into a town in which citizens are reshaping their surroundings. The incredible edible Todmorden movement has turned all the public spaces, from the front yard of a police station to railway stations, into farms filled with edible herbs and vegetables. Locals and tourists pluck fruits and vegetables for free.

    Read the rest at Shareable


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    Categories: News

    How farmers benefit from ag equipment co-ops

    Thu, 02/08/2018 - 17:23
    Link: How farmers benefit from ag equipment co-ops

    A CUMA is an agricultural equipment co-op that provides farmers the use of large, expensive machinery, and decreases the cost to access up-to-date equipment. 

    As an organization, a CUMA is group of farmers involved in the same sector (grain farming, dairy, etc.), who pool equity based on the type of equipment they need. Shareholders in the co-op sign a contract committing to using a piece of machinery for a certain amount of time in a given year.

    Shareholders also pay a membership fee, and generally each branch of a CUMA has a manager that oversees the scheduling of the equipment. This manager makes sure members are adhering to their contracts and that equipment is being utilized as efficiently as possible between members.


    Though the amount of money saved by CUMA shareholder members varies on a case-by-case basis, the savings can be substantial. According to the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, members of a dairy CUMA saved over $14,000 annually. Harris and Fulton claim savings could be as high as 70% in some cases. Plus, as an incorporated entity, liability rests with the co-op and not individual farmers. So, more individual farmer equity is free to grow their business or invest in other things.

    Read the rest at Co-operatives First


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    Categories: News

    Farmers and Co-ops Benefit from Tax Bill

    Wed, 02/07/2018 - 17:09
    Link: Farmers, grain cooperatives to benefit from new tax law

    Farmers seem to be one of the groups that will benefit the most from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

    Under the new tax law, farmers in 2018 will be able to deduct 20 percent of their total sales when they sell their crops to a cooperative, which for some farmers could mean zero taxable income.

    Reuters reported last month that ethanol producers and privately run grain handlers fear they will be cut out of the equation. ADM told Reuters it was evaluating the provision and "various potential solutions" to it.

    "It is going to put us out of business as a private if something is not changed right off the bat," said Doug Bell, president and general manager of Bell Enterprises Inc. "There is just no reason whatsoever why a farmer would do business with anyone other than a co-op."

    Read the rest at Herald-Whig


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    Categories: News

    Worker cooperatives offer real alternatives to Trump’s economic vision

    Wed, 02/07/2018 - 16:59
    Link: Worker cooperatives offer real alternatives to Trump’s retrograde economic vision

    Yet across the country, many of the nation’s most disenfranchised are writing a different story. In dozens of cities, worker-owner cooperatives are establishing new enterprises based on joint decision-making, dignified work conditions and fair pay. Utilizing their existing skills and harnessing new ones, these groups are leveraging their labor on their own terms, with a vision to change their industries and the economic landscape. And in this rising movement, people of color, immigrants and women are leading the way.

    There are many reasons why cooperatives are well-suited to these demographics, says Esteban Kelly, executive director of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, or USFWC, a nationwide coalition representing over 160 co-ops. “Cooperatives are very appealing for people who have been locked out of the traditional job market, or who tend to get locked in to jobs which have low wages and poor working conditions,” he said. “We are seeing a lot of momentum in the service sectors, like child care and elderly care, early education, hospice, and other labor-intensive, low-wage jobs — and these tend to be comprised of many people of color, indigenous people, immigrants and women.”

    Read the rest at Waging Nonviolence


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    Categories: News

    A Populism of Hope

    Mon, 02/05/2018 - 17:54
    Link: A Populism of Hope Begins When People Feel Their Own Power

    The waning years of the 1800s bore an uncanny resemblance to the present. The U.S. economy was transforming and globalizing, leaving behind many hardworking people. Then, as now, a populist uprising was underway in national politics against politics as usual. Then, as now, tough-talking contenders tried to position themselves as spokesmen for the people.

    That earlier populism shared many of the complaints about widespread economic stagnation and urban elites that animated voters in 2016. But, rather than in the apocalyptic preaching of a reality TV star, the movement’s backbone lay in feats of economic self-help. And this made all the difference. The proposals those populists sought called for fuller democracy, not authoritarian retrenchment.

    This was a populism of hope, not a populism of fear.

    Read the rest at YES! Magazine


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    Categories: News

    A Cryptocurrency With a Conscience

    Fri, 02/02/2018 - 17:43
    Link: Breaking Protocol: Blockchain and Capital Controls in Greece

    Cash is increasingly being replaced with cashless systems including cryptocurrencies. This week, we hear about the political economy of blockchain. And we hear from Greeks who've been using cryptocurrencies since the capital controls of 2015.

      Listen to more episodes of Making Contact  Go to the GEO front page
    Categories: News

    Five Elements of Collective Leadership

    Fri, 02/02/2018 - 17:24
    Link: Five Elements of Collective Leadership

    What is collective leadership? How does it compare to a more traditional concept of leadership? Why would anyone want to use it? What are the benefits? How did it develop and what are its theoretical foundations? In this article, we outline key aspects and benefits of the process. What Collective Leadership Is and Isn’tWe have defined collective leadership as a group of people working together toward a shared goal. When collective leadership is happening, people are internally and externally motivated—working together toward a shared vision within a group and using their unique talents and skills to contribute to the success. In fact, collective leadership recognizes that lasting success is not possible without diverse perspectives and contributions. Collective leadership is a process. It is dependent on the relationships among the parts in the system, whether that system is two people working together; a classroom, team, board, or organization; or a system initiative. In collective leadership, the way the group works together makes it different from a more traditional model of leadership. How the group works together and the unique results that are possible only when this happens differentiate a group that is sharing leadership from one that is not. In collective leadership, there is shared responsibility and decision making, accountability, and authentic engagement. All members are involved in creating the vision and are committed to working to achieve that vision. Collective leadership is based on the assumption that everyone can and should lead.2 Collective leadership requires specific conditions for the success of the whole: trust, shared power, transparent and effective communication, accountability, and shared learning. It is based on the recognition that without the gifts, talents, perspectives, and efforts of many, sustainable change is difficult to achieve. Creativity is unleashed as people tap into their fullest abilities and capacities. When collective leadership is present, people say, “We have done this ourselves.” Read the rest at Nonprofit Quarterly  Go to the GEO front page
    Categories: News