Cooperative resources

Resources about cooperatives

This is a wiki post, please edit and add! this list is being culminated at the 8pm “Sculpt a coop” cafe meeting at 2022 GOAT conf.

Resources to learn about cooperatives:

DAO resources:

Tech cooperatives:

Other misc examples:

See also 2022 sculpting session on cooperatives: Session: Cooperatives

  • Open Source Law
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Two different types of approaches that may want to consider:

  1. There are cooperatives that are set up to share the costs of services across independent organisations - creating scale in purchasing power but maintaining independence at operating level. It sounded like some folk were interested in this, and that across OpenTEAM there may be the scale to explore this.

There are plenty examples of this approach in the ag and consumer retail sectors, but one that may be a closer fit for the types of services you were discussing is - - The aim of SMart is to assist skilled freelancers in managing their business administration. It does this by helping with contracting, invoicing and associated functions like insurance, accounting and tax. These functions are primarily managed through the SMart IT platform. (A brief analysis from 2018 that I did for a project - still reads okay -

  1. Then there are developer coops - that share costs but are effectively one organisation. I know the guys at (NYK based developer coop) - who might be good to talk to about their experiences. Also closer to home (for me at least) -

Happy to help any way I can - make intros to cooperative peak bodies or resources ( or to the platform coop guys at New School (who would love OpenTEAM!) -

@gbathree @sudokita @julietnpn


Jamie’s Coop Top 10 List

From my bookmarks, just some resources and concepts that I think are particularly relevant to the discussion we had on Tue evening, Oct 4th, regarding cooperatives for open ag tech.

International Cooperative Alliance

This is probably the most recognized authority on cooperatives globally. It is a cooperative federation, aka a cooperative union, aka a cooperative who’s members are themselves cooperatives. You probably know them by their logo:

Their 7 Cooperative Principles:

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training, and Information
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
  7. Concern for Community

Solidarity as a Business Model: A Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives Manual by Margaret Lund

Typically, a cooperative is defined by the type of members who make up the cooperative, like a worker coop, consumer coop, producer coop, etc. A multi-stakeholder cooperative simply has 2 or more types of members.
Fedco Seeds is an example of one where consumer members own 60% of the business and worker members own 40%, which is disbursed proportionately as annual patronage dividends.

Awesome Coops

In the vein of awesome-* GitHub repos (eg, awesome-vue), this is a collection of awesome tech cooperatives around the world, as well as some other resources. CoLab is an especially cool one I first learned about from this list, being a coop that specializes in application development for other coops like Up&Go and Brooklyn Packers. And to go one more degree of separation, one of BK Packers founders, Steph Wiley, happens to be an OpenTEAM Fellow!!!

Loomio Coop Handbook

As a part of the broader Enspiral collective in New Zealand, Loomio was started in 2011 by activists in the Occupy Wellington movement. They created the Loomio software project to address a common need shared between activists, coops and social enterprises to have a ways to vote on proposals, generate consensus and make decisions more democratically. I highly recommend David Brolier’s interview with Alanna Irving, one of the Loomio Handbook’s original authors and now currently at Open Collective, on the Frontiers of Commoning podcast.

Software Freedom Conservancy

I brought up conservancies a few times during the group discussion, but I think for GOAT’s purposes, it should be given thorough consideration as an alternative to forming a coop or non-profit. Or fiscal hosts, like Open Collective, for that matter. SFC is just the most established one I know of, but there could be others more suited to GOAT.

Here’s the headings from their services page to give you a flavor:

  • Tax-Deductible, Earmarked Donations
  • Contract Negotiation and Execution
  • Conference Logistical Support
  • Basic Legal Advice and Services
  • FLOSS Copyright License Enforcement
  • Fundraising Assistance
  • Avoid Non-Profit Administrivia
  • Leadership Mentoring, Advice and Guidance
  • Some Personal Liability Protection
  • Officiating Community Elections and Ballot Initiatives

Platform Coops

Platform Cooperatives are a relatively new concept, popularized by The New School’s Platform Cooperativism Consortium. The gist of the idea is it’s a technology platform but owned and controlled by workers, consumers and/or users. So like, Uber, but driver-owned, like Eva, the platform coop Sam mentioned.

CoopCycle and the CoopyLeft License

Another example of a platform coop; per their homepage:

CoopCycle is a federation of bike delivery co-ops. Governed democratically by coops, it enables them to stand united and to reduce their costs thanks to resources pooling. It creates a strong bargaining power to protect the bikers rights.

What I find especially cool, however, is their “CoopyLeft” software license, which grants free use of the software to other cooperatives and social enterprises. Somewhat related is the Cross License Collaborative, which aims to provide a framework for cooperatives and independent freelancers to collaborate and share freely, using compatible licensing arrangements, while protecting them from being exploited by larger corporate entities.

Erbin Crowell

I attended a great free workshop by Erbin Crowell, hosted by the National Farmers Union, and I always thought it would be really cool if we could get him to do something similar with GOAT. Although his primary expertise is with producer coops and food coops, he has both breadth and depth of knowledge around coops and farming more generally.

Technology Freelancer’s Guide to Starting a Worker Cooperative

This is an older resource, but still a really great intro to concepts specific to tech freelancers and contractors.

Community Rule

A toolkit for choosing and tailoring different governance models to fit a group’s needs. Check out the templates if you’re not sure where to start. It was created by Nathan Schneider, a journalist/activist/researcher involved in all sorts of cool work, including and Open Collective’s Exit to Community.