This Issue: Why Co-op, After All?
Why are our stores structured as co-ops? Is this structure still important? Relevant? An asset to our organizations?
In this issue, hope to enhance the understanding of co-op leaders in our co-op identity, and initiate a conversation about the legacy, promise, and potential of cooperatives. In this, the United Nation’s International Year of Cooperatives, we want to make sure the foundation begun by our co-op pioneers serves us well and helps us realize the full potential offered by this amazing, dynamic, and extraordinary business model.
We hope this issue inspires many hours of fruitful and stimulating discussion among your co-op’s leadership!
Co-op Business: Principled Foods and Goods – Cindy Owings
“While the underlying principles delineate how the cooperative form of business differs from other forms of business, how can a co-op board revitalize the seven principles to bring their importance front and center in governance as well as member and public perception?”
Co-op Values, Co-op Difference – Paige Lettington
“But if people can get the products we offer elsewhere, we need to look realistically at what our role is now…. If we want to thrive into the future, we need to figure out how to attract and keep new members who have other options for purchasing the same products we offer.”
Food Co-op or Food Co-op? – Marcia Shaw
“It’s the board’s job to consider the future of the co-op. Be sure your thinking goes beyond food to consider new directions in which you might grow.”
Occupy the Co-op? – Dean Williamson
“It’s this commitment to people that also helps keep the co-op on the leading edge of business. It is proof that a business can prosper by doing good work and by doing democratic work. What a radical idea!”
How Will Food Co-ops Evolve? – Phil Buri
“So the deck seems stacked against us. The innovations that led to our success are now commonplace. Furthermore, we have a business model that ensures survival during hard times but does not foster taking big risks or moving in new directions. Are we stuck in our present configurations, or will food co-ops evolve into something else?”
Study Guide – Why Co-op? Why Now? Where Next?
Six discussion questions and three scenarios that we hope will serve as a springboard for useful discussions about your co-op, its commitment to the co-op structure, and its future.
Thanks to Dean Williamson, board member and vice president at the Community Food Co-op of Bozeman, Montana, for allowing us to reprint his article, published in the co-op’s blog in October 2011.
We welcome your comments, suggestions, and stories. Did you learn something? Were the discussions that came out of this issue useful to your board? How did your board use this issue in your planning and visioning process? Send your suggestions, comments, experiences, reactions, and/or new scenarios and resources that you develop, to firstname.lastname@example.org.