Finding News in the Co-operative Story
With the International Year of Co-operatives launched last week there is new energy for sharing the story of a proven, effective manner of organizing commercial activity for the benefit of stakeholders and community.
Mainstream media is weaving a narrative of continued economic woe, a disappearing middle class, food price instability, and an increasingly restricted range of motion in sovereign states’ ability to respond. This narrative calls out for change in the way we organize our commercial and public service efforts.
A media interested in finding solutions to the troubles they are narrating will find the co-operative movement a rich and fertile field of possibilities.
Co-operatives are tried, tested, and true economic entities. They have been successful in many different cultural environments. On the whole co-operatives outperform their cousins on many business metrics.
Co-operatives have a tendency to create a nexus of democratic organization, social and community commitments, and value-laden commercial exchange. They hold potential as businesses, care providers, food producers and distributors, and housing options – to name a few. Co-operatives root money in stakeholder communities preventing the footloose and fancy-free capital behaviours other models tend to encourage.
At the International Year of Co-operatives launch in Calgary last week Kathy Bardswick, CEO of The Co-operators called for an effort to make the co-operative model the fastest growing business model in 2020.
In a world in need of progressive enterprises that provide ways to authentically engage one another in rooted, purpose-driven enterprises for shaping a shared future, we could all benefit greatly from paying more attention to co-operatives as an empowering model.
Co-creating an expanded owned media for the co-operative movement remains our favourite strategy for sustaining this important narrative. In the meantime, will mainstream media also turn the corner and help find non-conventional responses to our current socio-economic, governance, and commercial challenges? When looking for new narratives for the future, co-operatives are a great place to start.
The so-far slow moving story of business evolving into a way to organize human effort explicitly for the good of society and planet has been narrated in these pages for a little over a decade. We are a long way from those first whispers of social capital and corporate social responsibility.
In a recent statement to the press, the president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Canada accused the provincial government of making a “deliberate and provocative choice to wipe out the democratic rights of tens of thousands of educators.”
With the United Nation’s (UN) International Year of the Co-operatives (IYC) 2012 just wrapping up, it’s hard to immediately discern the impact of the year. But for us, one thing rings loud and clear: IYC has built a global co-op movement whose strength is still being understood.
Many state-operated school systems are facing the challenges of scale as government education ministries have grown more centralized and massive teacher’s unions flex the muscle in their memberhip numbers.