Gleanings

Sharing has always been essential to human life, but “What’s new,” says Neal Gorenflo, founder of Shareable Magazine, “is our blindness to it.” Through our individualized pursuit of happiness—a lifestyle ushered in during the Industrial Revolution—many of us have forgotten that for centuries the most promising source of security came from our ability to build and maintain strong social connections and respect the commons. 

As the founder and executive director of the Freelancers Union, and the CEO of the social-purpose Freelancers Insurance Company (FIC), Sara Horowitz has dedicated herself to empowering and protecting America’s independent workers. Now, as the institution she leads grows from strength to strength, she’s focusing on “New Mutualism,” a social movement of change and cooperation that's about moving from consumption to connection.

The roots of modern cooperatives stretch back more than 150 years, but it wasn't until 1995 that the International Co-operative Alliance adopted seven core values around which all cooperatives should operate. When the United Nations declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives, these principles renewed an important conversation about what it means to be a credit union, specifically why they exist and how they are different by design.

Experience tells us that governance in member-owned co-operatives is distinct from that in investor-owned businesses, yet we do not understand fully how this operates in practice.  This research study of governance in large co-operatives helps to fill the gaps in our knowledge.

 

Recently I jumped on a train to Birmingham and attended the founding conference of Students For Co-operation, a new national federation supporting students to set up co-operatives while at university.

The Twin Oaks Community wants to make its Communities Conference an annual event. Attendance has been increasing yearly. They need to build a permanent kitchen to keep up with the growing demand for this powerful demonstration of intentional community.

Help Map the Movement

So, what should I put on the map?

Your local community garden. That artist-owned studio space you love. The babysitting coop your neighbors started. Any place that is helping regular people live the independent, connected life they want to live. And if it’s owned by the people who work or shop or connect there, that’s even better.

See the map and add to it on the Freelancers Union website.

If you happen to be looking for your morning coffee near Golden Gate Park and the bright red storefront of the Arizmendi Bakery attracts your attention, congratulations. You have found what the readers of The San Francisco Bay Guardian, a local alt-weekly, deem the city’s best bakery. But it has another, less obvious, distinction.

“We’re re-writing the standard storyline for a successful organic food business,” says Dan Rosenberg, founder of the twelve-year-old Greenfield, Massachusetts company Real Pickles, which makes naturally fermented and raw pickles from regionally-grown vegetables in a 100% solar-powered facility.

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