Fri 5 Jul 2019 9:21AM

Feed ideas in to the Co-op Group National Members Council

G Graham Public Seen by 61

Yesterday I got an email as a member of the Co-op Group inviting me to "have my say" as it appears that the National Members' Council wants to hear about the issues that are important to us. The survey is at https://joinin.coop.co.uk/opportunities/239 and you need to be a member to participate. I'm going to suggest that the Group focus some effort on growing the cooperative economy by investing in the the orgs around the country that are doing sterling work to support new co-op start-ups. If you are a Co-op Group member you might want to do something similar.


Graham Fri 5 Jul 2019 9:50AM

I also suggested that they push for a strategy to make the Group carbon neutral within a decade and free of single use plastics within 12 months. And that their commitment to Fairtrade, although positive, feels increasingly like tinkering at the edges.


Martin Strube Sun 7 Jul 2019 8:16AM

I agree. Although the Members' Council is effectively a toothless fairy since the advent of the "revised" Group constitution and the "management capture" generated thereby, it can't hurt to propose stuff for their toothless gums to munch on.
I shall mostly be proposing FairCoin.

As Facebook gets ready to launch its Libra coinage my bet is that we will see a dramatic global shift towards cryptocurrencies.

Currencies are, after all, all about confidence, and a big player like FB will generate that confidence. However, most of us (I assume) would prefer to have nothing at all to do with FB's or any other big players' currencies. I would much rather see the global co-operative economy (if lumped together and taken as a national economy it would be the 5th largest on the planet) adopt it's own currency to encourage ethics and inter-co-op trading. I would like to see the global co-op economy detach itself entirely from the wealth centralising, starvation generating, and war mongering "host" economy.


Graham Sun 7 Jul 2019 8:49AM

Hi @martinstrube - great to hear from you. Whilst I fear that talk of cryptocurrencies may well not resonate with many on the Members' Council I applaud your bold vision, and I agree that Facebook's move may well be a game-changer in respect of public perception of cryptocurrency and perhaps of alternative currencies more generally. Certainly the crypto community sees it as a very positive move if the current price of bitcoin is anything to by (just shy of10 grand). I've long been a supporter of the FairCoin project as an innovative move in the co-op economy, and while it certainly has its weaknesses it also offers potential and deserves greater attention than is currently the case. For those of based in the UK a more direct method of purchasing FairCoin with sterling, and also cashing out into sterling, would be really useful, but even so that doesn't stop us from at least experimenting with the use of FairCoin. I would also encourage people who haven't yet done so to engage with the mutual credit network co-operative that is being set up. They are at https://opencredit.network


Jonathan Bean Sun 7 Jul 2019 4:22PM

I am interested in the open credit network, but I am in the US, it seems they are looking for those in the UK though it is not clear.


Graham Mon 8 Jul 2019 10:00AM

In the US you might be interested to connect with people like Matt Cropp in Vermont, who might what if anything is happening on mutual credit there. Or Thomas Greco, who wrote the book on it.


there are quite a few US mutual credit (and other community currency) options, mostly city-based - the ones i remember off-hand are
- https://www.mutualaidnetwork.org/
- https://commongood.earth/


Leo Sammallahti Sun 14 Jul 2019 5:17PM

Could the co-op group set a target of using certain % of their software development budget (or whatever its used) to contract tech cooperatives? Bit like Preston Model.

So if the co-op group spend 1 million pounds per year to software development, they could have a target of using at least 100 000 pounds a year to buy services from members of CoTech.

Don't know if that makes sense.


Graham Tue 16 Jul 2019 10:24AM

Certainly there is a strong case for a community wealth building model inside the cooperative economy. I've been involved in various projects over the years to develop this, with mixed success. the creation of the directory that Co-operatives UK manage was a solid step in the right direction in terms of creating some visibility of cooperatives beyond the big consumer societies, but it isn't sufficiently focused to provide real value to a co-operative procurer. And I imagine that all of the big co-op orgs in the UK will have some sort of policy about supporting and/or trading with other co-operatives. So much more could be achieved, building on these, with the right carrots and sticks.


Leo Sammallahti Tue 16 Jul 2019 12:27PM

I am very interested in this. I am now collecting examples around the world of big coops buying services from tech coops. You might have noticed, but I started a thread in CoTech forum about this, it now a reply from WebArchitects Coop and Cooperative Web.


VME Coop will be established soon as a FairShares cooperative. It provides software for most of the retail coops in the UK and will be probably the most significant example of a big coop buying services from a tech coop, as well as the most significant example of a tech company transforming into a coop (if there are other examples I would love to know).

I will be doing marketing for VME and it will be focused on, more than anything else, around promoting big coops to support tech coops in Preston Model style. Hopefully we can cooperate at some point in advancing this goal that we share!

Hopefully Platform6 could play a part in this as well, perhaps by helping coops to connect with each other in this way.


Steve Gill Wed 17 Jul 2019 7:12AM

Firstly, apologies for not commenting much more on Loomio. I'm hoping to try and 'time manage' myself better to make more time for this and other forums.

I've been harping on to anyone who will listen in both the Co-op Group and the large consumer co-ops about purchasing more from tech co-ops. I've suggested that statutes are changed so that management need to justify why they didn't chose a co-operative option (there will be times when there are valid reasons). Almost all board members agree with me, some execs agree and some middle managers clearly want me to stop being a pain in their side.

I've even said if they have an issue with me personally fine, don't choose what I'm proposing but please DO work to help grow the tech co-op movement with others. Its going to require a mindset change in middle management in some societies, and this is talking from over 24 years of experience in the consumer co-op movement.


Chris Croome (Webarchitects Co-operative) Wed 17 Jul 2019 7:44AM

I'm sure you have realised that the all the Webarchitects examples involve small co-ops, the Co-operative Web answers are the only examples of big consumer co-ops working with tech co-ops in the UK that I'm aware of, it might be worth giving Nick a call if you want some more details from him.


Cliff Mills Wed 17 Jul 2019 8:37AM

Steve, your point links into a central issue for the Greater Manchester Co-operative Commission. I believe that GMCC could deliver a strong message in its recommendations about creating a pro-coop environment, which recognises the social value contributed by coops, and treats them accordingly. This obviously means that in procuring, public bodies recognise the contribution that coops make to their local economy, and take that into account in comparison with other types of business. My colleague Mark Cook posted a really good e-briefing in relation to this very issue which is here https://www.anthonycollins.com/newsroom/ebriefings/social-value-in-the-award-of-central-government-contracts/ and click through to his response to the consultation.
This links to your point Steve in that if we want to create a pro-coop environment generally, as a movement we need to be setting an example by modelling that in our own rules/constitutions/statutes. We should be explicit about seeking to work with other coops. I can't believe that we haven't previously drafted something as a standard rule, to be included in model rules, which says something to this effect, but based of course on principle 6, and 7 too. So I think that this point should be made to Co-ops UK who are currently reviewing model rules.
Great point Steve.


Graham Wed 17 Jul 2019 8:49AM

Great point Cliff. How can we engage with the the Co-operatives UK review process? @Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) will know as a board member.


Cliff Mills Wed 17 Jul 2019 11:13AM

It would help for Mark to feed in, but I will also tell Linda and Emma. Steve, you might want to tell them as well?


Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) Wed 17 Jul 2019 12:44PM

I'm feeding into the review through the UK Co-operative Governance Expert Reference Panel tomorrow. I'll add it to the mix. Might be worth a chat with David who's also on the panel @Cliff Mills


Pat Conaty Wed 17 Jul 2019 10:27AM

Brilliant points Cliff. I would add that Mark Cook is the UK legal expert on these matters and is widely recognised on value and supply change problem solving wisdom. This will aid and abet ways forward here I would suggest. Welsh Local Government Association is currently working on solving a problem like this under the banner of Better Jobs Closer to Home. But this work is more along the lines of Preston 'community wealth building' thinking but the local procurement aspect can read across.