Around the Co-op Water Cooler 4/7

Happy Thursday, cooperators! Before we get to this week's links, a quick heads up that this will be the last week of my rotation as weekly links curator. Following me starting next week is Adam Schwartz of the Cooperative Way, and I'm excited to see what links he chooses to share for his rotation!

For this weeks links, we have a interesting mix. First off, a look at how the financial cooperatives have been faring in the context of the territorial debt crisis in Puerto Rico, and how their possible over-exposure to that debt might've been forced on them by their regulator. Second, coming out of the #platformcoop movement, a plan is coming together for "Co-op DiscoTech" events to be organized around the world aimed at bridging the gap between the co-op and tech worlds. Check the description, and, if it seems of interest, consider attending or organizing one in your community! Third, we have a great example of Principle 6 in action: producer co-op Organic Valley is making $1 million available for loans to co-ops through the Shared Capital Cooperative. Finally, we conclude with an analysis of the state of democracy in rural electric co-ops. Enjoy! 




Posted on April 7, 2016 .

Around the Co-op Water Cooler 3/16

Greetings from the Co-op Water Cooler! It's been an exciting week, and we have a few morsels to share with you, our loyal subscribers.

First, the specter of demutualization raises its head from time to time in all of our sectors, and a piece from Rural Electric Magazine provides the historical context of takeover attempts of co-ops by investor-owned utilities, as well as an overview of the structural changes the movement made in response to thwart them. We follow this with an important critical piece from GEO on the Evergreen Cooperatives experiment in Cleveland, and an essay from Haverford Magazine on the creation of the first veterinarian consumer co-op, which looks something like lodge practice for puppies. Finally, we conclude with a video from 1985 recently dug up from the archives of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center, which features Bernie Sanders talking up worker co-ops during the opening remarks from the "Progressive Entrepreneurship Forum." Enjoy!

Around the Co-op Water Cooler 3/2

In this week's links, we start with two interesting examples of how municipalities are supporting the development of worker co-ops as an anti-poverty measure on opposite sides of the country in the Rockaways and Berkeley. We then take a look at how a credit union has gone beyond the usual employee orientation practices to bring their new workers into deep conversation with their social mission, after which they are given the option to receive $1500 and leave if they are not on board. Few do. Finally, we conclude with a talk by Brendan Martin of the Working World that delves into the history and ethics of debt, and unpacks what a generative financial system that builds a co-op economy might look like.


Posted on March 2, 2016 .

Around the Co-op Water Cooler 2/24

Happy Wednesday from Co-op Water Cooler! This week, the mix of links touch on the intersection of co-ops with social problems and movements, including the American Civil Rights Movement, the co-op economy agenda being pursued in the midst of a civil war in the Kurd-controlled Rojava region, and a worker co-op grocery grappling with the homelessness in a San Francisco being rocked by rapid gentrification. We then conclude on a more uplifting note, with a new video from the makers of Shift Change looking at the advanced co-op economy in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Enjoy!

Posted on February 24, 2016 .

Around the Co-op Water Cooler 2/17

Happy Hump Day! In this week's links, we look at both the past and future of cooperatives. Looking forwards, we have a review of a key work by Trebor Scholz that outlines the contours of the emerging Platform Cooperativism movement, and a look, via the prism of REI, at how the nature of member engagement is changing with technology. We then take a sobering look at the state water distribution in the arid American West, where some of the earliest instances of co-op organizing took the form of collective water management schemes. As Wall Street traders enter that field, it raises interesting questions around how we manage our commons. Finally, we end with an interesting look at the relationship between co-ops and the State in the U.K., and the emerging political priorities of the movement. Enjoy!

Posted on February 17, 2016 .

Around the Co-op Water Cooler 2/10

Before your links, a brief update. Many thanks to William Azaroff for taking the lead on compiling the links tagged by editors for the past many months! At our last editorial collective meeting we decided to, in the immortal words of Samwise Gamgee, share the load. We'll thus be rotating responsibility to a different editor every other month, and so, for the next two you all are stuck with me, Matt Cropp!

The kick off to my illustrious reign as link-curator starts, alas, on a bit of a downer theme. We've got the news of a San Francisco taxi co-op struggling in the face of "sharing economy" juggernaut Uber (come onnnn #platformcoop revolution!), as well as word from Science that we might be a little less cooperative and a little more dumb as a species than previously thought. It's not all bad though; we also learn about a co-op in Italy innovating to meet their capital needs via cheese-backed bonds, and a co-op ski slope in Vermont turns 20!

Hope you all enjoy and have a great week!

Posted on February 10, 2016 .

Around the Co-op Water Cooler 1/20

This week’s links represent both the best of times and the worst of times. While celebrating Organic Valley’s milestone, we are reminded that co-ops do fail. One way to avoid failure is to maintain adherence to our principles like member democratic control. Finally, the sharing economy would really be better served if done on a co-operative basis, not with venture capitalists.

Happy reading,

Posted on January 20, 2016 .