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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 07:31 AM
Original message
Discussion about the citizen co-op/cooperative model
An article posted by Joanne98 prompted me to bring this discussion here, in what I felt was the most appropriate group category, to continue discussion about cooperatives and gather the information in one place.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...


I've subscribed to Google Alerts and will post articles that may seem of interest here in this thread.


http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2010/0111/T...

<snip>

Just last month, the UN declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives. Its urging governments worldwide to collaborate with the co-op movement to reduce poverty and create more productive societies.

And Michael Moore sent a valentine to the co-op movement in his latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story. As a form of economic democracy, he said in an interview, co-ops are the patriotic thing to do.

In hard times like these, the co-op model makes sense. After all, public confidence in corporations, banks, and the larger financial system is at low ebb, while unemployment is at its highest level in 25 years. Homeownership, historically a reliable way to build equity, has been rocked by foreclosures. People are looking for other ways to do business and save money.

Turning workers into investors isnt new. Were all familiar with dot-com employees whose vested stock options turned them into overnight millionaires. And Employee Stock Ownership Plans have long allowed workers to invest in their companies. But worker-owned co-ops are unique because employees own 100 percent of the business, so they have a voice in how its run.

<snip>



Now I REALLY want to see Michael Moore's latest. I wonder if it's still in theatres? I see they're taking pre-orders for the DVD.


:hi:

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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 07:40 AM
Response to Original message
1. We're accustomed to agricultural-type co-ops, but what about....

media co-ops?

For so many reasons, media is where we -- as citizens -- need to start to reclaim our democracy.

It seems Canada has this, but I couldn't find anything in the States with a cursory search.

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JustAnotherGen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-12-10 07:12 PM
Response to Reply #1
15. First, Glad I was directed to this group on another thread
Second - that's my vision. An online women's magazine, NOOOOOOOOOO advertisers, subscriber driven, and growing it to the point where those who come in to work WITH me (not for me) become owners not employees. I'm launching next month. Very excited because it's a different format, and I intend to advertise liberally. :-)
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The_Commonist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 09:06 AM
Response to Original message
2. I'm interested in co-ops.
I've lived communally, and now I'm looking into joining my local community based credit union.
Definitely posts thing you find here!
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 09:29 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Will do! :) n/t
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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 01:44 PM
Response to Original message
4. Thanks for doing this, OGR
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 06:59 AM
Response to Original message
5. Link of possible interest 01/13/10:

Article regarding a "cooperative connector":

http://filene.org/home/innovation/i3ideas/connect/45


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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 06:59 AM
Response to Original message
6. Link of possible interest 1/18/10:



By Shawna Kenney
18 January 2010

I first encountered the idea of a co-op as a freshman at University of Maryland. The Maryland Food Collective operated an on-campus food co-op, which looked a lot like a health food store.. Signs there stated that it was worker owned and that volunteers were welcome in exchange for food credit. Their website proclaims no bosses or managersonly people who are working for a space that maintains equality 34 years after its inception, this co-op not only still stands, but seems to be thriving, offering cooking classes, great local produce, and organic lunches far better than the fast food offered on the rest of the campus.


http://www.youngmoney.com/entrepreneur/co-operatives-a-... /

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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-20-10 07:02 AM
Response to Original message
7. Links of possible interest...
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-22-10 12:50 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. And another article...
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-24-10 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
9. Good link to legal definitions
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-04-10 07:40 AM
Response to Original message
10. Excellent article - A Hybrid Model: Co-ops and Nonprofit
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-09-10 05:18 AM
Response to Original message
11. Evergreen Cooperatives -- video

Good video showing potential of cooperatives as an opportunity for neighborhoods.

http://jm.ly/B651fW

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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-18-10 06:02 PM
Response to Original message
12. An example of business integrity:

Multi-million dollar company owner turns business over to employees

http://abcnews.go.com/WN/owner-multi-million-dollar-com...

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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 07:01 AM
Response to Original message
13. Blogspost post: Trust is the Only Currency
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-12-10 06:57 PM
Response to Original message
14. Thanks OGR. Maybe it's something we can start working on together with
others who are interested. I have been somewhat obsessed in finding a way for a group of us to form a non-profit health insurance company modeled after Medicare that we can sell to people who can't get insurance anywhere else or for less than they are being gouged for by the big health industry insurers. If we couldn't get Congress to provide them with competition with a public option, I think it still can be done. It will just be much harder. I think it could also be fitted into the exchange model the reform bill is based on. I also would want it not only employee owned, but so that the insured also get shares. I think this way everyone would work hard at making it work. I mean there are so many details to work out but I keep thinking about it.

I saw Michael's movie on PPV on my satellite provider, but they usually get stuff just before the DVD is ready to come out. I'm sure it will show up on HBO or one of the cable movie channels in a few months as well. It's still so timely.
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-13-10 04:21 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. Hey, Cleita :)


I'm REALLY interested in starting co-ops -- for a variety of things. I'd like to see that become the norm for most ventures. Your idea of a healthcare oo-op is HUGE.

Have you investigated whether or not there is such a thing that exists? I'm not super clear on how the whole thing works, or can work. There's legalese with a co-op as there is with any official organization and I haven't wrapped my brain around it yet. I think that legalese has caused me to have a mental block about the process; I may be making it harder than it needs to be?

I've been focused on a publishing co-op simply because that's what my daily life involves, and want to introduce some integrity back into the process and have the authors take back ownership of the process.

I'm definitely interested though and would be willing to work toward it -- for healthcare, for whatever. It would be nice to have a legal eagle involved to guide the way.

I've never specifically searched for a healthcare co-op and if there is a model for that already; if you don't have time to, I'll try to do that later.

We can have an ongoing discussion in this space, if you'd like. I just inserted things of interest here in this thread as I stumbled upon them, in case this subject became active.

I still need to watch Moore's "Capitalism"; I just know I'm going to get pissed and sick to my stomach when I do, so I'm bracing myself. LOL.

:hi:

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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-13-10 11:10 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. Discussion is definitely where it has to start. Putting all our noodles
and all our information together and coming up with a plan.
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sybylla Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-15-10 08:32 AM
Response to Reply #16
18. There have been healthcare coops
When I lived in Madison, WI back in the 80's there was a health care cooperative - Group Health Cooperative, which acted like an HMO. Some really liked it's model. Others hated that you had to see a nurse before you could get to a doctor, who you only saw if the nurse couldn't help you. You had a healthcare team, but people are too used to having a doctor - one person to talk to and to work with.

So I'm not sure it's still a cooperative, but it might be worth looking into.


BTW, it used to be that a lot of insurance companies were cooperatives - called "mutual" insurance societies. That seems to have gone away. Perhaps it's something else to look into bringing back.

And don't forget that credit unions are the strongest and most widespread entity in a coop model.
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-15-10 03:50 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Thanks so much, sybylla!


:)

I swear, so many things I find online that are truly progressive models, seem to be based in Wisconsin -- Madison, specifically. I need to move there. :)

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sybylla Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-15-10 05:12 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. Coops were practically born here
Edited on Thu Apr-15-10 05:15 PM by sybylla
I guess technically the first coop was elsewhere, but the Progressive Movement back at the turn of the last century really embraced the coop movement in Wisconsin and made them what they are today. They saw coops as a way to provide services to rural communities that for-profits wouldn't tackle.

Problem is, most people don't understand what a coop is anymore. They don't realize they actually can have a say in how it's run and can pressure it to serve them better.

I currently get my electricity from one of a dozen or more electric coops founded back in the 30's. Now that sounds like a good idea but it's run by industry insiders who are all pukes and are pushing for the state to relax the moratorium on new nuke facilities. Unfortunately, these rural communities could take them back by voting in new directors at the annual meetings, but there are so many people who just don't care and who just don't know.

This isn't new for coops either. The world has gotten so technical and the regulatory landscape so complex that running most coops, from feed coops to electric coops to credit unions can't be done by the average Joe or Jane who would likely get elected to the board of directors. So the board of directors relies on industry goons to advise them and they end up too often an organization that, rather than serving the membership, serves the "administrators" who rake in giant salaries (and who are able to snow the directors and membership much like pukes snow their followers). My monthly electric coop newsletter is one giant propaganda piece full of BS and scare tactics. It's truly incredible. Twenty years ago they had some of the lowest kwh rates in the state. Now, since the goons took over, they are one of the highest.

They weren't even a "Touchstone Energy Partner" until a couple of years ago when a liberal acquaintance complained in the newspaper about the responses she got to questions on carbon credits, alternative energies and the like. For profit electric companies were members and their customers could get discounts on compact fluorescents at the hardware store but most coop members were out of luck.

Keep that in mind as you work to put your coop plans into practice. A coop's board of directors can be as easy to gerrymander as a congressional district.


BTW, Madison is a great liberal city, but it's truly an oasis. The pukes in the state call it "Fifty Square Miles Surrounded by Reality." It's not that Dems can't win elsewhere. Both our state houses and the governorship are in Dem hands at the moment. But in Madison, they win most elections with huge percentages. Where I live, I daily drive past anti-choice and religious billboards. It's like I'm living in the Bible belt.
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-15-10 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. That's why I've been trying to find legal guidance...

as it became apparent the setup can be complex. Very complex. And it seems the foundation, if not done properly and with foresight, can defeat the purpose of the original intent.

I ended up contacting an organization (in Madison, btw) which supposedly exists to guide progressive cooperative initiatives; I sure hope I hear back from them.

Thanks again.

:hi:

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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-12-10 08:29 AM
Response to Original message
22. More re: co-ops (health insurance)
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JeffersonChick Donating Member (338 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-25-10 09:22 PM
Response to Original message
23. Thank you so much for this post!
I'm currently unemployed, but have always had an interest in owning a small business. Ever since I saw Moore's movie a couple of months ago, I've been feeling inspired to look into how to start a co-op business. I will be checking this thread regularly (and will also share anything I find).

Thanks again!

:yourock:
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-29-10 04:20 AM
Response to Reply #23
24. Awesome, JeffersonChick!!!

Please do share anything you come across of interest. BEST of luck to you!

:hi:

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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-05-10 07:56 AM
Response to Original message
25. Steelworkers form Collaboration with Mondragon
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