In honor of Co-op Month, let’s reflect on a super selection of co-op awesomeness.
Question: Hey Co-op blog! Why are co-ops so fabulous? —Some Guy
Answer: Great question, random person! October is Co-op Month, so this is a great time to talk about what makes co-ops wonderful. Read the info below, handsomely packaged in both fact and satire for your convenience.
Awesome Thing #1: Voting
Don’t let the negativity of the national elections get you down. A co-op can restore your confidence in the democratic process. Why? A co-op is one of the most democratic organizations you can ever be a part of. Check out #2 in the fabled list of Co-op Principles:
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.
One member, one vote. None of that fishy, win-the-popular-vote, lose-the-delegate-count stuff here, people.
Awesome Thing #2: Co-op People Are Actually People
Newsflash: co-op folk cooperate about like everyone else—sometimes well, sometimes not so, and sometimes begrudgingly after being kinda mean first.
Co-op people are, in other words, people.
I’ve been in the co-op world for 16 years now, seen plenty of conflict and controversy in that time, and it doesn’t change how much I’ve been impressed by the good intentions of co-opy types. Co-ops have a way of forging alliances among those who otherwise wouldn’t have much in common. (Sorta like elves and dwarves in Lord of the Rings.) Even when co-op folk disagree, and disagree passionately, their commitment to cooperative ethics and values makes all the difference.
Awesome Thing #3: Membership
If you’re just learning about how co-ops work, forget about the word “cooperative” for a moment. Instead, think “membership.” (According to legend, a maverick named Larry once suggested calling cooperatives “membershiperatives.” People totally nixed the idea.)
Co-ops are all about membership. Member benefit—and by extension, community benefit—is at the core of the cooperative model. Co-ops are simply businesses owned and run by their members, and they are operated purely for the collective good of these members.
It’s a really different way of doing business. As my friend and long-time cooperative activist Tom Webb says so well, it puts “human need over human greed.
Awesome Thing #4: All the Great Infographics from Other Co-ops
Want to know more about co-ops? Do you long for a nifty infographic that puts co-ops in a nutshell? Check out the rockin’ one below from our pals at the California Center for Cooperative Development.
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