Session: Coop Breakout Session / Cafe after hours Coop vision quest

Session: Coop Breakout (Cafe) Session
Facilitation: Greg, Samuel
Notes: Samuel
Google doc

Executive Summary

The Coop breakout was a follow-up to the Coop Session. Building on the enthusiasm from the formal session this second convening happened in the CAFE. The group planned to work on a matrix to explore different models and structures of organizations to see what might fit well for specific projects and initiatives. Ie) if you are starting a new marketing platform would it fit better into a COOP, a DAO or some other structure. What are the pros and cons? The session began with a go around where people shared what they knew of coops or coop like structures. The group looked at types of coops (workers, solidarity, consumer, producer, housing, tech, etc) and reviewed the Coop principles.

  • voluntary and open membership
  • democratic membership member controled
  • member economic participation
  • Members contribute equitably and democratically control the capital of their coop
  • autonomy and independence - controlled by members
  • education training and information
  • cooperation among coops
  • concern for community

Building on the momentum of the afternoon coop session the discussion turned to shared needs within the group and how a coop might facilitate resource sharing. Such as sharing accounting, sharing employee hours, bookkeeping, etc.

This pop-corn style go around inspired a deeper question about the future of GOAT and the possibility of forming a coop to facilitate the work of GOAT. The question of what is GOAT was posed. Goat is more than just a conference. It is a community that is activated both in person and through the forum. There are GOAT adjacent events and happenings. And GOAT aspires to be more - possibly through regional sessions, meetups, and other shared projects. But there are challenges with this ad-hoc approach which relies on a great deal of volunteer energy and dedication. A lot of organizational knowledge is held by several generous and dedicated individuals which is precarious for the long term sustainability.

The session then moved into a more visionary and aspirational discussion for what a GOAT might be. The group listed some of the possible benefits and values a coop could offer. Again, there were ideas of shared labour or employees, marketing, grant writers, international events, spinoffs… Focus came back to a minimum project for a GOAT coop: planning a conference and events that compensates organizers for their time and has a legal structure, principles and vision for membership. Are we putting the GOAT before the cart? It was suggested that it makes more sense to come up with what we do and then decide on the legal structure rather than focus on the structure and then what we do. Two themes seemed to have emerged:

  1. What can this group do to collaborate and work together - what are the synergies?
  2. What is the mission of GOAT and how can it facilitate this?

From here it was suggested that the session close with everyone answering two questions:

  1. What do you need?
  2. what can you give?

Responses are as follows:

Person 1 (didn’t catch name)

  • It is really hard to do something well if you are doing multiple things -
  • we had a program that did grant writing
  • focus is a huge thing- if it is a specific thing I can do it
  • I would use a grant writer - some replicable models for that


  • Developer worker coop
  • bookkeeping
  • contract management
  • things that take me away from other things that I am better at
  • Skills in development and our dues into those other skills


  • Agreed on talent pool and ability -
  • Would love some west coast energy - and networking stuff
  • more intimate things -
  • Give grant writing skills
  • Mentorship - things I could to help
  • boring things that can be enablers


  • GOAT gatherings feel really good
  • It would be awesome to use the network that exist already to drum up more interest
  • Mentorship from different field and another space
  • For profit space - offer ecosystem - using our skills from regen


  • Book keeping - would love help with this
  • community - big part of being engaged in this and I want it throughout the year
  • Give design support - a lot of what we do is design research -
  • can help write grants whatever structure that exists can interact with institutions.
  • Talent pool - we have students and looking for developers

Person 2 (didn’t catch name)

  • How could I host a GOAT vent somewhere else


  • I really like the network and that is what think is important
  • I can contribute to connecting projects
  • regional gatherings are right on


  • SHare marketing resource = individual doing this that could be shared
  • would love for all of us to share and rep each others stuff
  • Talk about each others stuff
  • Share accounting and bookkeeping help
  • All the the community stuff
  • We can offer functional banking stuff because we have it
  • UI UX that I can share I have them to offer


  • I have a bunch of ideas I don’t know if they suck or are good
  • you are all smart and good people
  • you are some of the people that I want to be able to run these by
  • I am wanting to participate because I am product point dweeb
  • A forum for this to skewer each others ideas
  • I would give funds
  • governance support
  • What I want back is the trust that we can lean on for accounting, marketing, ux, legal
  • Conference
  • Grant opportunities


  • I need a team - it is so horrible for me to be a solo person
  • ONe of the things a coop can do is to gather people to build teams to do the work
  • I can pitch in a little money
  • I am connected to a global community that is international
  • From a personal standpoint I like doing care and organization work
  • I am a good editor


  • COnnecting people seeing big things
  • idea of doing a community of practice with sum app and kumo map
  • playing and hanging out together


  • I would take the team aspect of things
  • I would echo the bookkeeping and admin things
  • Happy to put in dues
  • but also put in my time and volunteering a way that is more accountable
  • Is there a mechanism for being accountable


  • Young organizations tend to be very brittle
  • We have team imbalance
  • THere are a lot of things that I want there is a timing mismatch
  • sometimes we need designers and dont have them or
  • SHared resource - outreach people
  • Bookkeepers
  • Looking to make the project more appealing - creating the environment the culture
  • Community of maintainer
  • There are certain niches that make you more qualified for funding - the legal structure of litefarm
  • Can we have a US partner that can strategically align


  • INdividual as a part of this community - there are two things
  • there examples of these shared pool organizations - ie in belgium Smart - shares health freelancers union
  • KNowledge exchange
  • my capacity to contribute must be aligned
  • institutional level - I think there are opportunities to work
  • using Farm OS and can invest in it. We are planning to invest through the open source community


  • I enjoy the networking and learning - expanding knowledge base right now
  • Hoping to involve more farmers as a contribution to the project
  • finding ways to build bridges with farmers - ie Farmer to FArmer conference in Maine
  • People that want to have more info and would engage
  • Networking - looking for opportunities to engage and contribute


  • Giving and getting - both community
  • Being an active community member and having access to it
  • Regenerative practice building - finding ways to bridge those
  • INterest in building ways to coordinating and communicating with GLObal SOuth


  • Regular opportunities to contribute
  • Opportunities to do this regularly
  • GOAT org to sit down and work together - would like to have a culture of doing that with regularly
  • Would like to know what people are doing - what is their status , what are they trying to achieve where are they in that path - into integrating with other goat people in the community
  • THe org provides that as a service -
  • HUMAN resource Mapping
  • I would organize another event
  • Like to do editing
  • GOod feedback
  • Organize ideas
  • talk about communicate between stakeholder groups
  • Making connections


  • I feel like this org has legs
  • want to see it commit to something in a shared vision mission
  • org that committed to values and find ways to hold us accountable
  • events like this
  • even if they fall a little outside of what I do
  • I want to see more representation of farmers and land workers and people that are doing agriculture here
  • dance party
  • Offer: synthesizing committing ideas and visualize and communicate things
  • organize events
  • intense passion for agroecology and tech sovereignty
  • commit to defined terms that exist out there that holds us accountable and capacity to make a stance

Full Transcript

Creating a matrix for comparing and contrasting different models of cooperative like structures
For people coming in from the outside that might be able to troubleshoot their options in terms of what the structure might be like
The idea is that we want to target functions and values that we hope to derive from the coop structure.

Informal go around on coops


  • University of Wisconsin has a center for the study of COOPS
  • Worker owned coops - a ton of information coops
  • Mondragon - commercial coop that has been tremendously successful - started with workers
  • Historical coop was a group a weavers
  • Enspiral - based in New Zealand - started as a workers coop of tech developers.
  • EVA - Ride sharing
  • Country Natural Beef - marketing, distribution, resources -values based, members must achieve certain measures.

Coops are really good at fulfilling needs that the coop members don’t want to do

Thousand hills - Minnesota marketing COOP
Differentiate for their members
Functional requirement for coops - strong statement of non financial values - minimize profit or surplus

Different types of structures that can serve similar challenges

  • DAO
  • Joint stock corp - C corp - legal innovation was the way to carve out shareholders
  • LLC started in the late seventies - differ from a C because you can have shareholder but they cant be swapped out - pass through tax only
  • MOst coops in the US is in only a few states and is typically just a C corp
  • A DAO may have no legal basis - there is no org to point at - in practice the court still sees people and everyone is liable
  • LLC - you can make multiple operating agreements -
  • THere are good frameworks for making DAO’s real by attaching them to LLC

Is there an agreed criteria for a coop?

Principles of coops are set out and agreed upon by members.

  • voluntary and open membership
  • democratic membership member controlà
  • member economic participation
  • Members contribute equitably and democratically control the capital of their coop
  • autonomy and independence - controlled by members
  • education training and information
  • cooperation among coops
  • concern for community

There are types of coops

  • consumer coop
  • worker coop
  • worker members
  • producer coop
  • Housing coop
  • tech Coop
  • Tool coop

What is GOAT?

  • a conference and a forum
  • stability is something that is a problem

Some challenges with GOAT

  • Held by a few key individuals that hold major institution knowledge
  • Challenges with funding something like GOAT
  • if is not funded it can disappear
  • When there is an org with no funding there is no org
  • And there are expenses
  • Sheer volunteer hours to put on this conference
  • open source non profit good work seems synonymous with not caring for yourself
  • We need something to provide stability

There are other things that GOAT can do that are things people might not want to do.
In 2018 there were ideas of what we might do as a GOAT

If we are trying to maximize the sharing of value - we need to take seriously how well open up around this

how can we have a better coop for organizing a conference coop


  • How do coops mitigate financial risk - ie carbon credit space - how can coops be an instrumental tool in buffering risk - what other tools can we deploy to mitigate financial risk
  • Robber Bank -because it has been around for a while it has created a risk buffer for transforming risk
  • How to think about risk

Baby Goat and Goat adjacent

  • How can we participate in a GOAT structure in California - why do we
  • GOAT KID = knowledge interaction distributor :slight_smile:
  • A legal structure would make things easier to fundi
  • is it sustainable long term
  • We can get a physical sponsor
  • we need to associate
  • GOAT is more than just a conference
  • How do we fund a year of GOAT - there are many costs associated with this.

In the passed all the organizers have all put up money
COOP takes all of this and makes it more
It is no longer held up by spit and glue
Structure and governance

At least one of the benefits of a formal organization is that university and institutions now have a things to interface with that allows them to partner easier

Data and trust is needed in any structure

  • stewardship of data
  • we have for profit
  • research,
  • communities
  • How do we aggregate and trust data
  • Create a structure that fluidly allows for participation and data

Membership models?

  • ACademic societèes that run conferences need a publisher arm to create revenue
  • 501c3
  • Trade unions have another structure - they can use their collective weight to make change

May need to codify the relationships
Pro-social draws on the work of Elinor Ostrom.

Natural way to move toward a common objective and the legal structure will fall out at the end.

  • Values and principles need to be brought to light and focused on.
  • If GOAT is just a conference and meeting than maybe this works
  • Top heavy structures and bureacracy is not what we want
  • When you are talking about a conference - insurance, liability etc. Something has to own that account and there needs to be someone they are accountable
  • From a structural standpoint of a conference a small spinoff organization that can be done to organizati this

Machine COOP Example

  • Soil Steamer Coop
  • We worked with 5 farms to set up a coop
  • this group of 5 farms will own this coop
  • It provides a safety valve and support that can

Having projects to prototype in a COOP

  • Can anyone propose a use case that we could prototype
  • The conference itself is a perfect idea - a project
  • GOAT as a year long event

Some commons needs of members:

  • We all share a lot of the accounts -t there are lots of things like legal and trademark
  • For example legal could be sharded
  • Marketing would be great
  • another function is UI design
  • shared resource could be of use
  • software talent pool - people that can move around
  • Having someone at understand the domain
  • help on identifying new hires
  • HR
  • Soft funding
  • Sharing resources - shared seasonal workers
  • how to create a culture of maintenance
  • forum moderation for contributors
  • Another consideration we might have mentioned
  • if we are looking to some kind of philanthropic funds
  • plus a grant writer.

Other possible structures

  • Is there a 501 c3
  • Oregon agricultural land trust
  • Double organization structure
  • MAPS - has raised 100 million plus and houses that in another org

So you could have one structure that increases membership engagement and another that facilitates things

Try to figure out what the set of actions are and what is the minimum set to start with

  • viability - financial
  • actionable thing - forma legal entity based on agreed principles
  • that has basic coop member structure
  • that allows participants to get paid
  • to reduce liability for conference next years

IF that is all you do - that is an incredible framework for expanding its scope for next year
This isnt broke dont fix it - but does this ask too much from people
We don’t want to participate and attend something that is unfair and painful to some.

Revenue generating potential -corp group to pay dues
Is everyone a member
How do we describe membership
We are actively trying to bring people into organizing this

OurPsy was used to funnel securing and shipping money through in the past
Open collective
Question: How is what we are doing not achievable through Open COllective

We cut a lot of stuff out from our budget
Our goal is to support anyone that wants to come - including travel, and other things
Even from this year we had good question and conversations - we could have ensured we got more funding from institutions
Could need a community moderator

Nobody suffered in the making of this GOAT

We should use the coop for things that it is designed for

WIth an expanded purpose GOAT may do that
It needs to be something more than a conference

We need to add some of the other things to make it worth the time
The forum alone is an all year thing
Could need a community moderator

Other considerations
possible shared resource
We can do this as US only conference
Doing an international version would dramatically increase cost of conference
It wouldn’t raise the cost if there were other ways to contribute to those cost
THere could be member dues - no benefit except to perhaps vote on GOAT
There are big organizations that could help out with this. Orgs that could fund other people to come
THe main thing we need is pay goat herders
We need to be able to coordinate and moderate the community between things
Dues taking off the fee from members

Conference Models

  • MOFGA for example is something that does this
  • Conference that has built a model of fundraising.

Could we have more of a decentralized GOAT?

  • How to do this but allow ourselves to be connected
  • Mother GOAT
  • This also has happened with GOSH
  • perhaps this is a good reason for a trademark

2 Questions:

  1. What do you need?
  2. what can you give?

See sharing round above.