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IYC-Inspired Cooperative Moves

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GEO Original
April 12, 2012
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The International Year of the Cooperative is inspiring people in many ways. A month after the official UN declaration, cooperative organizations in Pittsburgh, including The East End Food Cooperative, Ujamaa Collective and those interested in starting cooperative organizations, gathered at The Big Idea cooperative bookstore for kick-off program.

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In Asheville, N.C., a newly-formed cooperative, Firestone Café and Books, went into full action. Co-op member Joe Rhinehart wrote a brief description of what they are doing:


[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"421","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 480px; height: 319px; float: right; margin-left: 12px; margin-right: 12px;"}}]]Cooperation Between Cooperatives

  1. Switching to Credit Union as our bank
  2. Switching to King Arthur Flour (an ESOP—employee owned) for our baked goods
  3. Removing credit card fee for credit union members (normally $.50 under $5.00)
  4. Switching coffee suppliers to Equal Exchange, a worker cooperative - Approximately~8% of our total revenue

Co-Marketing with Area Coops

  • We are creating a marketing plan for local cooperatives to share in and promote cooperatives
  • Co-Op Rocks Video- we are making one, hopefully as well as three other cooperatives
  • We are doing at least three cooperative presentations with other cooperatives in the next two months.


Even one person who is not part of a cooperative, but who has the cooperative passion has made a personal IYC Mission:

"During IYC I will..."

  • Continue to include conversations about race and place in all my Co-op work
  • Keep giving even when I feel like giving up
  • Respond when I can to every request for my help or input
  • Plan and deliver two “Co-op 101” activities in my community
  • Tithe any money I receive for Co-op work back to my local movement
  • Represent the Co-op community as best I can in all settings
  • Stay as grass-roots as possible!

Brian Van Slyke not only got the Co-opoly game produced this year (see separate article), but his group Toolbox for Education and Social Action has initiated cooperative teach-ins across U.S. campuses. Here’s what their announcement said:

“The Cooperative Teach-In Initiative is a part of the UN-Declared 2012 International Year of Cooperatives. The Cooperative Teach-In focuses on engaging colleges, universities, schools, and other communities on what co-ops are and how they positively change local and global communities. This initiative connects campuses with cooperatives, facilitating an exchange of information, ideas, tactics, and goals. The Cooperative Teach-in allows people who are interested in a wide variety of issues to engage with the national cooperative movement and see how co-ops relate to them: from workers’ rights to economic development, democratic control, environmental justice, fair trade, community empowerment, social entrepreneurship, food justice, and small farmers.”

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What’s your inspiration?

Write us at and let us know. GEO will be publishing more of these throughout the year, and would love to read your stories.



(2012).  IYC-Inspired Cooperative Moves.  Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO).

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