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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Movement Moving Together 12

February 19, 2015
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There is a very interesting development coming out of the UK and Western Europe. A network of folks over there are working hard on developing a framework for the convergence of co-operative, commons, solidarity, open source, and all the alternative economic movements. 

At this point they have identified three long term objectives:

[1] Build and Expand New Regimes of Law, Governance and Management; 

[2] Aggregate Patient Capital (aka “Co-Operative Accumulation”); 

[3] Blending Co-Operatives and Digital/Open Platforms.  

From the "Conclusion" section of one of their papers:

Our current moment in history may be rife with serious economic and political challenges, but it is also rich with opportunities.  There are many more ways than we may realize to develop innovations to meet basic needs in socially just and ecologically responsible ways.  Remarkably, mainstream politics and economics barely talk about such goals, let alone explore feasible models for achieving them.  This workshop was an attempt to bring such ideas to the fore.

There is a rich history of the co-operative movement that can guide and instruct contemporary movements seeking to invent new models.  For its part, the commons movement and many associated movements – the Social and Solidarity Economy, Transition Towns, peer production, food relocalization, and community land trusts, among others – are already pioneering fascinating new projects and public policies.  A convergence of these movements with the experience and ideals of the co-operative movement could be formidable indeed.

Here's the link to that paper, a report on a two-week workshop.

Here's a link to David Bollier's short overview of it and the table of contents on his blog. There is much more on “open co-operativism” on his blog.

David also gives a review of another report from a second workshop on his blog, “A New Alignment of Movements.” It includes the Introduction to the report. The activists attending this workshop hailed from movements devoted to the Social and Solidarity Economy, Degrowth, Co-operatives, Transition Towns, the Sharing and Collaborative Economy, Peer Production, environmental justice, and the commons, among others. While most came from Europe, there were also participants from Canada, the US, Brazil, Ireland and the UK. A pdf of the whole report is available here.

Bollier is the co-author of both reports with Pat Conaty.

Finally, Caitlin Quigley, of PACA, reflects on this emergence in our US context.

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