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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Get Occupied With the Co-Op Movement!

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November 22, 2011
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By Emily Kennedy, Huffington Post

I bet you haven't heard of the global movement that's demanding a democratic economy. The one that's unsatisfied with the corporate business model and the way banks dominate the system. The one that's been occupying the social change arena since 1844. They're the Co-Operative Movement.

..."One of the problems co-ops face is their lack of visibility," says Donna Balkan, Communications Manager for the Canadian Co-operative Association. "The co-op business model is rarely taught in business schools or law faculties, and mainstream media rarely cover co-operatives as a distinct form of business."

That's not to say it's completely out of sight: Social entrepreneurship studies are infiltrating business schools from Simon Fraser University to Acadia University; studies show co-op survival rates far surpass that of conventional businesses; four out of every 10 Canadians are members of at least one co-op; co-op members make up about 70 per cent of the Quebec population; and thousands of people took part in Bank Transfer Day, which supported credit unions a.k.a. financial co-ops. The fact that you may unknowingly be involved in the co-op movement already underscores the visibility issue -- an issue that could be turned around if the Occupy Movement were to lend a hand.

And why would they do that, you ask?

"It's what they're yearning for, out there on the streets of the Occupy Movement," says Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Co-operative Alliance, in an interview with CBC radio, "...to have some active engagement in their community and in their economy. That's what they want."

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