A series on local cooperatives
In honor of Cooperative Month, the Alliance of Polk Burnett Cooperatives has provided the following series of articles, to be published e, throughout the month of October.
• Collaborate! Communicate! Cooperative! October is Cooperative Month!
• Wisconsin: A Hot-Bed of Hot Cooperatives
• Our Cooperative Place in History
• Forming a Cooperative
• Co-ops are IN! Resources on Cooperatives
Co-ops are in! Resources on Cooperatives
Part five of five-part series
by The Alliance of Polk Burnett Cooperatives
Cooperatives stand as “principled business models.” For example, World Food Day recognized in 2012 that while one in seven of the people of the world suffer from undernourishment, the key to feeding a growing world adequately lies in agricultural cooperatives.
Around the world, there is great interest in all types of cooperatives. Experimenters, researchers, authors and ordinary people have published a large array of articles, books and reports, and have created websites and films about the origins, operations and potentials of cooperatives.
One good way to access this wealth of material is through the Bibliography of Cooperatives and Cooperative Development, updated and published most recently in 2012 by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University, Macomb, in coordination with USDA Rural Development iira.org. This comprehensive list of sources from 1980-2012 is interested in both the “theoretical and practical aspects of the cooperative model,” and approaches the topic from a wide array of disciplines, from history to anthropology, environmental science to labor relations.
Divisions are made by cooperative sectors, such as health care, tourism, educational; by types of cooperatives, such as consumer and retail, marketing producer, purchasing, worker; and by the implications of cooperatives to communities, the environment, the global economy and free trade, women, minorities and development.
Here is a sampling from this extremely helpful and interesting bibliography. Stuart Henry’s 1985 article, Community Justice, Capitalist Society, and Human Agency; the Dialectics of Collective Law in the Cooperative was published in the journal, Law & Society Review back in 1985. More recently, in 2011, Jeffrey Hollender wrote a Huffington Post blog called A World of Cooperation and Shared Ownership, and that same year, Melissa Hoover and Beadsie Woo published a piece in the Christian Science Monitor called To Jumpstart U. S. Job Market, Turn Workers into Owners.Starting a Baby-sitting Co-op, by Annie Morton, appeared in Parents magazine in June, 1990 and the Rural Cooperatives journal published Anne Todd’s 2007 Housecleaning Co-op Members see Income, Benefits Rise Sharply. As an example of a book included, see Dennis and Alex Avery’s 1996 “Farming to Sustain the Environment.”
The bibliography contains plentiful appendix listings and Internet resources, including many video clips viewable on YouTube.
If you are wondering how to find and read some of the intriguing print items you run into scanning this bibliography, see your local librarian for help, if needed, using the valuable website available to Wisconsin residents or visitors through the Department of Public Instruction, badgerlink.net, Wisconsin’s Connection to the World of Information. Here you will find access to a database called EBSCO in which you can look up items from the bibliography, and many of those items will have the full article online and accessible from your home, school or library computer.
For books not in the MORE system, check out Wiscat at Badgerlink. There you can also find, get, and watch a good one-half hour film, “Camp Co-op,” or you can access it at wisconsinstories.org/2002season/coop Enjoy sleuthing and looking at the many sources available on cooperatives, and a final Happy Co-operative Month for 2013 to you all. Remember to collaborate! Communicate! Co-operate!
Forming a cooperative
Part four of five-part series
by The Alliance of Polk Burnett Cooperatives
“Where Cooperation is at Work, Communities Prosper” is the slogan for Cooperative Development Services Inc., cdsus.coop, headquartered in St. Paul, Minn. They are one of 24 cooperative development centers nationwide under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, rural development. They are just one resource of many for market assessment, feasibility studies and business plans as well as with aid for grant writing and bringing in speakers.
How does a co-op form? The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, uwcc.wisc.edu, outlines the steps one can take in the 21st century to start a cooperative. First, “identify the problem or opportunity and gauge broader interest. Are there things we could achieve more readily, afford more easily, if we joined others with the same need or difficulty? Are there things we could do together that it is not possible to do alone?”
Then, form a steering committee and further explore the co-op business option. Members of the initial committee will often represent the identity of an emerging co-op. Choose people with enthusiasm and varied skills, including people skills.
Conduct a feasibility study and evaluate the results. This might include, depending on your project, a market analysis; management, equipment and facility needs; revenue projections; and sources of financing.
Establish the cooperative by adopting articles and bylaws. Articles of Incorporation are filed with the secretary of state of the state of Wisconsin to form a legal entity of the organization. They will include the name, address, type of business, purposes and powers and duration of the organization.
Bylaws are the guidelines for conducting business and will include who can be members and how, meetings, the election of directors and officers and their duties, distribution of profits and losses and equity redemption, procedure for dissolution and process for amending bylaws. Having a lawyer look at the articles and bylaws is always a good idea.
Finally, prepare a business plan, begin a membership equity drive, elect a board of directors and secure start-up capital, and finally, secure site, vendors and staff so that operations can begin.
Cooperatives in Wisconsin come under Chapter 185 of the state statutes, and one of the big growth areas is in the health arena. A couple of organizations are designed to work with existing cooperatives and help with the design of new ones.
Great Lakes Cooperative Center, glcc.coop, is a good place to start when thinking about forming a co-op, with templates for articles of Incorporation and bylaws available, among many other resources. It is a joint project of the Center for Cooperatives at UW-Madison and the Cooperative Network, and puts its emphasis on rural economic development. - submitted By The Alliance of Polk Burnett Cooperatives
Wisconsin: A hotbed of hot cooperatives
Part two of five-part series
by The Alliance of Polk Burnett Cooperatives
We are exceptional, unique. We are also common, one among many, a part of a large whole.
We are a cooperative.
The Inter-County Cooperative Publishing Association is, as far as we know, the only newspaper co-op in Wisconsin, though there are other printing and publishing companies. It is possible that we are the only co-op newspapers in the country. But Wisconsin has thousands of co-ops of various types—credit unions, electric co-ops, phone co-ops and mutual insurance companies. It also has cooperative grocery stores, dairies, agricultural stores, bookstores, musicians, artists and crafters.
The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (uwcc.wisc.edu), looking at the economic impact these entities have in the state, counts 262 credit unions, 115 farm supply and marketing stores, 54 housing cooperatives, 40 water/waste facilities, 33 mutual insurance companies, 26 electric co-ops, 24 health care co-ops, 22 day cares, 18 arts and crafts, and entertainment organizations, plus finance, education, media, telephone, transportation and other co-ops.
Wages from these entities are about $850 million, with more than 20,000 employees. At least 3 million Wisconsinites are members of these various groups, and many more probably buy Ocean Spray cranberry juice, Sunkist oranges, Land O’Lakes butter or Organic Valley milk, shop at Ace Hardware or have spent the night at a Best Western without knowing these are cooperatives.
The Inter-County Leader is owned by its subscribers. For just $5, a subscriber becomes a member and is invited to an annual meeting in December at which door prizes are distributed, board members elected and a dinner is served.
The editorial page of the Leader from its founding, Thursday, Nov. 2, 1933, has a statement by its first editor, Bennie Bye: “The Leader owes its birth to the burning conviction that the people need a voice. It aims to provide this expression, it seeks to be a well of common strength in these troublesome times.
“The Inter-County Leader has one main purpose. This is to publish fully the FACTS and NEWS which concern the welfare of the people of Polk, Burnett, Barron and St. Croix counties. The Leader does not represent any one section or class. It will not further the interests of any one group. It is founded on the principle that the welfare of one is the welfare of all. Its success, if it succeeds, is yours. Likewise, its failure, if it fails, is yours.”
Collaborate! Communicate! Cooperate!
History of the Inter-County Cooperative