CSR certification has been the darling of corporate reformers for over a decade. No longer relegated to the upstart social entrepreneur (think of The Grameen Bank), CSR certifications are now part and parcel of the annual reporting of many Fortune 500 companies.
As the central economic importance of the internet has ramped up over the last decade, conversations around who owns the platforms we use have been happening with increasing volume and urgency.
When considering ways to communicate the meaning of ownership to a co-op's members, there are few opportunities quite like the yearly annual meeting. As a yearly invitation to come together and exercise an authentic, democratic influence on the future of their grocery store, financial institution, electric utility, workplace, etc., annual meetings, at their best, serve as a powerful differentiating ritual that separates the experience of membership from that of being a customer or employee in a for-profit firm.
In my role at Vancity, I think a lot about an inclusive, sustainable and also vibrant local economy. And I am a hypocrite. Oh, I’m not alone, all my colleagues and peers are hypocrites too. We support local businesses. Especially businesses that create a local food economy, hire people with barriers to employment, support new Canadians as they settle so they can be productive and happy in their new country, help companies trying to reduce the carbon emissions they put into the environment and help people reduce the carbons they emit in their lives.
With over a trillion dollars in assets and more than 100 million members, it is clear that credit unions must play a pivotal part of any effective strategy aimed at bringing the co-op model to full scale in the American economy.
I have often joked that if cooperatives had an 8th principle it would be, “We Meet and Eat.”
Co-ops are famous for meeting. We have annual meetings, board meetings, committee meetings, regional meetings, meetings by sector or type of job (accountant, compliance, marketing, etc.)
The owners of many small and medium sized businesses in New Zealand and Australia approach retirement with trepidation. Often there is no obvious successor to take over the running of their business; the children of the owners aren’t interested and competitors simply want to see it closed down.
We’ve dedicated our lives to cooperative, but our retirement funds to Wall Street. That has to change, and I recently decided to figure out how it might be done. While not simple, it’s possible, and suggests a way that the community of co-op supporters might mobilize substantial capital for the growth of our movement.
A mountainous landscape is made up of layers upon layers of rock, forming stratification patterns over millennia and millennia. The layers on the bottom are, obviously, the first to be laid down, and one can track the history of the area through millions of years by studying the layers.