I'm afraid this post may be a bit dry, but I'm wanting to share my enthusiasm for building more sustainable communities and work systems.  So today's post focuses on one of these new building blocks: Cooperatives.

Here is an abbreviate definition of "Cooperative" from Wikipedia:

A cooperative (also co-operative or co-op) is a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit.[1] A cooperative is defined by the International Cooperative Alliance's Statement on the Cooperative Identity as "an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise".[2] A cooperative may also be defined as a business owned and controlled equally by the people who use its services or by the people who work there. Various aspects regarding cooperative enterprise are the focus of study in the field of cooperative economics.

So the idea of Cooperative businesses has been percolating lately in my life, and I discovered a cool website about this exciting, potentially more empowering work structure.  Here's a paragraph from the homepage of CooperationWorks!

CooperationWorks! is a national organization of cooperative development centers and practitioners that span the breadth of the United States. Using innovative strategies and proven business practices, CW Centers provide expertise across all aspects of co-op enterprise development, including feasibility analysis, business plan development, business launch and on-going training for operational success.Find out more about CooperationWorks!

And here's an excerpt from a recent news story listed on their website about supportive legislation that I hope will pave the way for more rapid expansion of the Cooperative movement:

Congressman Chaka Fattah Spearheads Urban Cooperative Development Initiative

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – October 15th 2010 – Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA),
Chairman of the Congressional Urban Caucus, will lead a new initiative to support urban
cooperative business development throughout the United Sates.
Fattah, an eight term Congressman from Philadelphia, will partner with the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), a Washington-based federation of cooperatives from all sectors of the economy, and CooperationWorks! (CW), a national trade association of cooperative development centers and individuals. . .Read more
And finally, last week I met with a guy who is staring a website called PermaculturExchange. He's working to bring local start-ups, projects, ideas, etc. together with people who have the right skills to offer and are looking for work.  We are talking about how I might contribute my own skills to this project and perhaps even offer career services individually and through the website.  The Cooperative structure will likely play a large role in the work growing out of this website, as well.
I'm feeling really down tonight for whatever reason but thinking about the potential of Cooperatives makes me feel some hope.  

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