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Tools and case studies for starting co-ops!

Check out this simple website that has amassed a large collection of cooperative-related articles, videos, case studies and tools specific to the US (with a few for Canada). Read the startup guides, watch some TED talks and see who is offering classes and job opportunities. This is the place to be for up-to-date articles and news.

Community-based Cooperatives: Case Studies in the U.S. and Canada

These Neighbors Got Together to Buy Vacant Buildings. Now They’re Renting to Bakers and Brewers

This excellent article tells the story of two neighborhood economic cooperatives who are proving that this model can not only provide a return for investors but enliven an area and create jobs. The first is in Minneapolis where neighbors invested their money into a few vacant, unsightly buildings and loaned money to people who wanted to start businesses in them. Now the street is a vibrant hub and they are acquiring more co-op members for other projects, keeping money in their communities and increasing property values.

The second example is a tiny community in Alberta, Canada that was losing people and investment to other towns. The neighborhoods got together and built a cooperative whose job it was to build more cooperatives to bring back the services needed to keep people shopping in town. They started with the businesses that already existed and helped them thrive, using grants from government programs that already existed in Canada. When the government agency saw how much difference the grants made, they added new services for local communities and together the programs are growing to spread this model throughout Alberta.

Both stories highlight the hard work involved in setting up the co-ops initially but also give credit to local laws that allow these alternative economic models to succeed. The article goes into details about both the laws and the way they were used, giving anyone interested in creating a co-op a fantastic head start on what to look for and what pitfalls to expect.

Holacracy Case Study: Voys/Spindle Telecom

Mark Vletter of Voys
Read this Holacracy article by Mark Vletter of Voys/Spindle Telecom to get a wonderful feel of what this system of governance can offer a growing company. He acknowledges that Holacracy is not easy to implement, but that its benefits far outweigh the learning curve. He shares advice and some of the positive aspects he and his companies have experienced.

“We treat Holacracy as a proven system; we never had any debate on whether or not a part of it is good or bad. We take it as a whole. The system has evolved this way for a reason. We don’t want to develop a new system; we want to adopt a proven one.”

Interview with Jessica Gordon Newbhard: Cooperative Economics of the Civil Rights Movement

Fannie Lou Hamer Farm Co-op
Read The Next System Project’s interview with Jessica Gordon Nembhard to learn about the fascinating and extremely effective systems that Black people set up during the civil rights movement in direct contradiction to the current capitalism models. Men unionized and worked, and women studied and kept the co-ops and money flowing within the Black communities. We need to learn from them and recreate these cooperative commonwealths and solidarity ecocnomies to take us into the future towards the next phase of humanity. As she says, we already know how to do this. We just need to have the will to keep getting up, as they did, when the status quo knocked them down.

Kickstarter goes B-Corp

Yancey Strickler
Listen to this video where Yancey Strickler, the CEO of Kickstarter, announces that his company will become a Public Benefit Corporation, which is more binding than the voluntary B Corp. To be certified as a B Corp, any for-profit entity is on its honor to report its social and environmental record, whereas a Public Benefit Corporation is under legal obligation to meet certain requirements and give back to the community. It must show accountability, transparency and measurable progress towards its stated purpose to its shareholders in a yearly meeting, just as it must share its financial goals. Kickstarter plans to support artists and musicians, art education and will also donate money to non-profits fighting inequality. Read its extensive charter. They also remain a B Corp… check out their scorecard!

Podcast: Right Livelihood with Ben Weiss, Dave Jacke, and Charles Eisenstein

BenDaveCharlesCheck out this awesome new podcast from The Permaculture Podcast by Scott Mann, featuring some of the best-known permies and right-livelihood advocates. Hear each of them share their candid thoughts on our current culture and what it would take for us to change for the better. They take on Permaculture as a concept, the spiritual aspect of earth care, the inner landscape that contributes to the world we live in and they share their own frustrations and successes. This is very worth one listen and possible multiple!

Bioneers: Local Living Economies Video with Judy Wicks

Check out this remarkable video by Judy Wicks taken from a Bioneers conference talking about her local, sustainable business (The White Dog Café). She takes us through her activism and decisions in making her cafe more sustainable from paying a living wage to using green energy to making sure all her products were as local and organic as possible. She co-founded the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), a national coalition of green businesses, and is a consultant to help many other businesses and industries follow her lead. She, unlike other small revolutionary green businesses, has refused to sell out to multinational corporations and continues to stay a single restaurant in her local community. As she says, wages have not gone up and the environment has not been saved despite the “green” company craze, so clearly much more work is needed to keep business local!