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What co-ops mean to me – trust, holism and balance 7 May 2013

Posted by cooperatoby in cooperative, Social enterprise.
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tickI’ve just taken 15 minutes out of my let’s face it not very frantic day to fill in the Co-operative Global Identity Survey sent to me by the ICA. Let me recommend that you do the same, if it comes your way before the deadline two days from now, because it was a fascinating experience in introspection. I thoroughly enjoyed being challenged to express clearly what co-ops mean to me, and I learnt some surprising things (about myself, not about co-ops).
The survey started as it meant to go on – right in my face. What do co-operatives mean to me in 3 words? I instantly chose trust, holism, and balance. I was pleased with that.
Asked what motivated me to join a co-operative, I though back to joining Suma, and answered “working in a principled way to improve the world”. In an ideal future, I imagine the global co-operative movement in ten years’ time as “one of the G20, like Pauline Green says – actually, leading the G20. This upbeat questionnaire has made me optimistic!
– How would I describe people who are part of the co-operative movement? – I like them because they are more rounded and likely to see different and interesting aspect of things. Do you recognise yourself?
– Please tell us about a story, or a moment, that represents the best things about co-operation. I had a problem to encapsulate this and chose the Ale House: “teamwork to decorate our new shop”.
Then came the astonishing question: “Do you think that we should use the word ‘coop’ or ‘co-op’ to promote our worldwide identity – even though it is not used or understood everywhere? I let rip: “Yes – Of course, there is no question. Why would any other word be any clearer? Co-operation is extremely simple – think of how to divide a cake or any informal activity. It is capitalism that requires the mental contortion to justify it. Co-operation is NORMAL. Outside the business and advertising bubble people accept this without contest.” I bet that stiffens the movement’s sinews!
I was then invited to rank various slogans. I ticked “Co-operatives are about ethical business” but wanted to go much further by adding: “Given the experience of the current financial crisis, isn’t it obvious by now that capitalism is destructive and co-operativism offers a superior guidance framework for the economy?”
Along with some very intriguing questions asking me to choose between different images of co-operation, the most absurdly interesting question came near the end: which colours represent co-operation to me? I chose red (socialism) and green (ecology) – of course.
I haven’t had so much fun in days.

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