Co-ops and Coworking: the best-kept secret in coworking

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

···

Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Hey Trevor - thank link is broken! :frowning: looking forward to reading this.

-Alex

···

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.
Join the list: http://coworkingweekly.com
Listen to the podcast: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/podcast

Here is a link taken from their website:

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

···

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 9:46 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Hey Trevor - thank link is broken! :frowning: looking forward to reading this.

-Alex

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.
Join the list: http://coworkingweekly.com
Listen to the podcast: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/podcast

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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Jenifer Ross
Co-Owner & Founder

[email protected]

21 North Broadway | Tarrytown, NY 10591

www.watercoolerhub.com

[email protected]

914-332-1400 | 914-261-1470 c

Like us on facebook + follow us on twitter | Watch our Video

Apologies. I used an internal link.

Here’s the real link

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

···

On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:40 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

I’d love to know more about this. I’m certainly sold on the value alignment but I don’t have a sense for how it works.

···

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Apologies. I used an internal link.

Here’s the real link

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:40 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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Hi Trevor

Your link to the blog post isn’t working. Tried it on 2 different browsers,
thinking that might be an issue, but neither worked.

I’m in Toronto, but followed Innovate Niagar for some time while I was
self-employed so have some sense of trends in the Niagara Region and connections
at Niagara College.

So even though I’m employed full-time now managing the Co-op function
at George Brown College (student/co-op employment, in this case).

I still am very interested in the coworking movement, entrepreneurship, the
sharing economy, disruptive technology, the maker economy, city-building,
sustainability, etc. etc. etc.

When you can…

Thanks

Michael

Michael Andich

Manager, Field Education and
Partnerships

George Brown College, Centre for
Business

man…@georgebrown.ca

Office 416.415.5000 x
6158

FAX 416-415-2094

···

On Thu, 18 Feb 2016 09:40:58 -0500, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years
ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara
up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it
out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only
co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in
Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help
create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the
hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you
have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining


Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com

You received this
message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email
to [email protected].
For more options,
visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Ditto. Can you provide more details on the financial structure?

···

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 18, 2016, at 10:40 AM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

I’d love to know more about this. I’m certainly sold on the value alignment but I don’t have a sense for how it works.

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Apologies. I used an internal link.

Here’s the real link

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:40 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

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Trevor, I think a lot of us are excited to learn more about how you pulled this off!

I encountered early thoughts on this topic as well, but found it difficult to get a clear sense of how to go about in a way that would be viable. I think any more details you can provide on that would be helpful to others considering similar structures.

Thanks!
Tony

···

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 8:53 AM, Jenifer Ross [email protected] wrote:

Ditto. Can you provide more details on the financial structure?

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 18, 2016, at 10:40 AM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

I’d love to know more about this. I’m certainly sold on the value alignment but I don’t have a sense for how it works.

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Apologies. I used an internal link.

Here’s the real link

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:40 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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Thanks all, for your feedback so far.

Sounds like I need a (few?) follow up post(s). I’ll also post some links shortly to resources we used. In Canada, most co-ops are provincially incorporated, so I assume that in the US each state will have its own co-op legislation.

I’ll share what we did here in Ontario, and you should be able to figure out how that works in your province/state.

I’m not sure how this works in other countries, but the co-op movement in Europe generally is huge, so there should be some good resources on that side of the Atlantic.

···

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 8:53 AM, Jenifer Ross [email protected] wrote:

Ditto. Can you provide more details on the financial structure?

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 18, 2016, at 10:40 AM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

I’d love to know more about this. I’m certainly sold on the value alignment but I don’t have a sense for how it works.

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Apologies. I used an internal link.

Here’s the real link

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:40 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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Here’s a link to the Ontario Co-operative Association, whose resources and advice were particularly valuable when we set up. If you’re in Ontario, they’re more than happy to offer some initial assistance. If you’re outside, they’re happy to refer you to the group in your area who can help. We’ve become quite involved in the Niagara Regional Co-op Network which is closely connected with On Co-Op.

http://www.ontario.coop/programs_services/coop_development/starting_a_coop

It’s a rich resource, but there’s still a lot of jargon. I’ll try to break our experience down in plain language.

  1. We were already meeting as a jelly group for 18 months before we started with our space, so we had a core community from which to build.

  2. As we were talking about the mutually-invested community we wanted to build, someone who was already working on a food co-op in our city asked if we had considered the model.

  3. We looked at the resources at the link above and enough connected that we decided this was the model for us.

  4. We filled out the incorporation forms ourselves. It took a couple of hours. (I can walk you through if you get to this stage)

  5. The membership fees from the founding members gave us the capital we needed to create the corporation and get the initial paperwork filed.

  6. Members pre-paid first, last and as many months as they could up-front so that we could build a nest egg. Some members provided member loans.

  7. Our membership model also encourages participation that doesn’t directly involve the space, so we have a larger group of members than space users. (our current membership is 70, but less than 30 use the space 1d/week or more)

  8. With that money in the bank, we were able to sign our lease, get our utilities set up, and hang our sign on the door.

  9. We have a board of 8 directors, and they help guide the long term direction of the group. I’m still chief resident volunteer cat-herder/tummler, and we’re working on expanding our service offering so we can pay someone to be in this role.

  10. Annually we have a meeting to review finances, vote on key changes in direction, and when we get to the point where we’re managing a surplus, the group will decide how that’s allocated.

Next coworking meetup-type thing we do, I’d be happy to present this as a talk in more detail.

···

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 8:53 AM, Jenifer Ross [email protected] wrote:

Ditto. Can you provide more details on the financial structure?

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 18, 2016, at 10:40 AM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

I’d love to know more about this. I’m certainly sold on the value alignment but I don’t have a sense for how it works.

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Apologies. I used an internal link.

Here’s the real link

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:40 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

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Trevor, you’re quickly becoming my new favorite person. Thank you for sharing all of this!

Regarding Step 1… Bravo!!! My heart sings when I see this.

Regarding Step 7… “Our membership model also encourages participation that doesn’t directly involve the space, so we have a larger group of members than space users.”

… is there any chance you could elaborate on this as well?

I’ll gladly buy you a beer or beverage of your choice next time we’re in the same place. Thank you for being an inspiration!

Tony

···

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 11:55 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Here’s a link to the Ontario Co-operative Association, whose resources and advice were particularly valuable when we set up. If you’re in Ontario, they’re more than happy to offer some initial assistance. If you’re outside, they’re happy to refer you to the group in your area who can help. We’ve become quite involved in the Niagara Regional Co-op Network which is closely connected with On Co-Op.

http://www.ontario.coop/programs_services/coop_development/starting_a_coop

It’s a rich resource, but there’s still a lot of jargon. I’ll try to break our experience down in plain language.

  1. We were already meeting as a jelly group for 18 months before we started with our space, so we had a core community from which to build.
  1. As we were talking about the mutually-invested community we wanted to build, someone who was already working on a food co-op in our city asked if we had considered the model.
  1. We looked at the resources at the link above and enough connected that we decided this was the model for us.
  1. We filled out the incorporation forms ourselves. It took a couple of hours. (I can walk you through if you get to this stage)
  1. The membership fees from the founding members gave us the capital we needed to create the corporation and get the initial paperwork filed.
  1. Members pre-paid first, last and as many months as they could up-front so that we could build a nest egg. Some members provided member loans.
  1. Our membership model also encourages participation that doesn’t directly involve the space, so we have a larger group of members than space users. (our current membership is 70, but less than 30 use the space 1d/week or more)
  1. With that money in the bank, we were able to sign our lease, get our utilities set up, and hang our sign on the door.
  1. We have a board of 8 directors, and they help guide the long term direction of the group. I’m still chief resident volunteer cat-herder/tummler, and we’re working on expanding our service offering so we can pay someone to be in this role.
  1. Annually we have a meeting to review finances, vote on key changes in direction, and when we get to the point where we’re managing a surplus, the group will decide how that’s allocated.

Next coworking meetup-type thing we do, I’d be happy to present this as a talk in more detail.


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 12:00 PM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Thanks all, for your feedback so far.

Sounds like I need a (few?) follow up post(s). I’ll also post some links shortly to resources we used. In Canada, most co-ops are provincially incorporated, so I assume that in the US each state will have its own co-op legislation.

I’ll share what we did here in Ontario, and you should be able to figure out how that works in your province/state.

I’m not sure how this works in other countries, but the co-op movement in Europe generally is huge, so there should be some good resources on that side of the Atlantic.


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 11:28 AM, Tony Bacigalupo [email protected] wrote:

Trevor, I think a lot of us are excited to learn more about how you pulled this off!

I encountered early thoughts on this topic as well, but found it difficult to get a clear sense of how to go about in a way that would be viable. I think any more details you can provide on that would be helpful to others considering similar structures.

Thanks!
Tony

Projects: New Work CitiesOpen CoworkingCotivation

eBook: No More Sink Full of Mugs

Connect: Personal siteTwitterFacebook

New: Preorder the Ultimate Coworking Toolkit

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 8:53 AM, Jenifer Ross [email protected] wrote:

Ditto. Can you provide more details on the financial structure?

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 18, 2016, at 10:40 AM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

I’d love to know more about this. I’m certainly sold on the value alignment but I don’t have a sense for how it works.

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Apologies. I used an internal link.

Here’s the real link

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:40 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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Man, I love seeing the Indy Hall playbook in action like this <3 <3

Echoing lots of what’s been said here - I look forward to a more detailed follow up post :slight_smile:

We have a few members that are VERY active in the co-op world and we often get together to talk about how much co-op DNA Indy Hall has.

I’ve also learned a lot about the different kinds of co-ops, including member co-ops, employee co-ops, etc. Is there a specific kind of co-op you chose? Are there any financial benefits to a member-owner, like dividends or discounts? Are new members given opportunities to become member-partners now that you’re up and running?

-Alex

···

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 1:55 PM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Here’s a link to the Ontario Co-operative Association, whose resources and advice were particularly valuable when we set up. If you’re in Ontario, they’re more than happy to offer some initial assistance. If you’re outside, they’re happy to refer you to the group in your area who can help. We’ve become quite involved in the Niagara Regional Co-op Network which is closely connected with On Co-Op.

http://www.ontario.coop/programs_services/coop_development/starting_a_coop

It’s a rich resource, but there’s still a lot of jargon. I’ll try to break our experience down in plain language.

  1. We were already meeting as a jelly group for 18 months before we started with our space, so we had a core community from which to build.
  1. As we were talking about the mutually-invested community we wanted to build, someone who was already working on a food co-op in our city asked if we had considered the model.
  1. We looked at the resources at the link above and enough connected that we decided this was the model for us.
  1. We filled out the incorporation forms ourselves. It took a couple of hours. (I can walk you through if you get to this stage)
  1. The membership fees from the founding members gave us the capital we needed to create the corporation and get the initial paperwork filed.
  1. Members pre-paid first, last and as many months as they could up-front so that we could build a nest egg. Some members provided member loans.
  1. Our membership model also encourages participation that doesn’t directly involve the space, so we have a larger group of members than space users. (our current membership is 70, but less than 30 use the space 1d/week or more)
  1. With that money in the bank, we were able to sign our lease, get our utilities set up, and hang our sign on the door.
  1. We have a board of 8 directors, and they help guide the long term direction of the group. I’m still chief resident volunteer cat-herder/tummler, and we’re working on expanding our service offering so we can pay someone to be in this role.
  1. Annually we have a meeting to review finances, vote on key changes in direction, and when we get to the point where we’re managing a surplus, the group will decide how that’s allocated.

Next coworking meetup-type thing we do, I’d be happy to present this as a talk in more detail.


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 12:00 PM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Thanks all, for your feedback so far.

Sounds like I need a (few?) follow up post(s). I’ll also post some links shortly to resources we used. In Canada, most co-ops are provincially incorporated, so I assume that in the US each state will have its own co-op legislation.

I’ll share what we did here in Ontario, and you should be able to figure out how that works in your province/state.

I’m not sure how this works in other countries, but the co-op movement in Europe generally is huge, so there should be some good resources on that side of the Atlantic.


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 11:28 AM, Tony Bacigalupo [email protected] wrote:

Trevor, I think a lot of us are excited to learn more about how you pulled this off!

I encountered early thoughts on this topic as well, but found it difficult to get a clear sense of how to go about in a way that would be viable. I think any more details you can provide on that would be helpful to others considering similar structures.

Thanks!
Tony

Projects: New Work CitiesOpen CoworkingCotivation

eBook: No More Sink Full of Mugs

Connect: Personal siteTwitterFacebook

New: Preorder the Ultimate Coworking Toolkit

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Join the list: http://coworkingweekly.com

Listen to the podcast: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/podcast

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 8:53 AM, Jenifer Ross [email protected] wrote:

Ditto. Can you provide more details on the financial structure?

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 18, 2016, at 10:40 AM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

I’d love to know more about this. I’m certainly sold on the value alignment but I don’t have a sense for how it works.

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Apologies. I used an internal link.

Here’s the real link

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:40 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

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Hey Tony, happy to clear up #7.

Membership in the Co-op is a pre-requisite to using our space, but many members join our co-op without using the space. If I were to compare it to other spaces, I’d say our base membership is similar to the community membership offered by IndyHall, except we don’t run an online commmunity (although we’re strongly considering it).

A membership is $125 CDN annually. $250 if you’re an organization. All members get 1 day/month in the space. If you want to use the coworking space, you purchase a monthly subscription on top of your membership.

We have 70 members in our co-operative. Just under 30 also have subscriptions.

I will gladly take you up on that beer at the next opportunity!

···

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 11:55 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Here’s a link to the Ontario Co-operative Association, whose resources and advice were particularly valuable when we set up. If you’re in Ontario, they’re more than happy to offer some initial assistance. If you’re outside, they’re happy to refer you to the group in your area who can help. We’ve become quite involved in the Niagara Regional Co-op Network which is closely connected with On Co-Op.

http://www.ontario.coop/programs_services/coop_development/starting_a_coop

It’s a rich resource, but there’s still a lot of jargon. I’ll try to break our experience down in plain language.

  1. We were already meeting as a jelly group for 18 months before we started with our space, so we had a core community from which to build.
  1. As we were talking about the mutually-invested community we wanted to build, someone who was already working on a food co-op in our city asked if we had considered the model.
  1. We looked at the resources at the link above and enough connected that we decided this was the model for us.
  1. We filled out the incorporation forms ourselves. It took a couple of hours. (I can walk you through if you get to this stage)
  1. The membership fees from the founding members gave us the capital we needed to create the corporation and get the initial paperwork filed.
  1. Members pre-paid first, last and as many months as they could up-front so that we could build a nest egg. Some members provided member loans.
  1. Our membership model also encourages participation that doesn’t directly involve the space, so we have a larger group of members than space users. (our current membership is 70, but less than 30 use the space 1d/week or more)
  1. With that money in the bank, we were able to sign our lease, get our utilities set up, and hang our sign on the door.
  1. We have a board of 8 directors, and they help guide the long term direction of the group. I’m still chief resident volunteer cat-herder/tummler, and we’re working on expanding our service offering so we can pay someone to be in this role.
  1. Annually we have a meeting to review finances, vote on key changes in direction, and when we get to the point where we’re managing a surplus, the group will decide how that’s allocated.

Next coworking meetup-type thing we do, I’d be happy to present this as a talk in more detail.


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 12:00 PM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Thanks all, for your feedback so far.

Sounds like I need a (few?) follow up post(s). I’ll also post some links shortly to resources we used. In Canada, most co-ops are provincially incorporated, so I assume that in the US each state will have its own co-op legislation.

I’ll share what we did here in Ontario, and you should be able to figure out how that works in your province/state.

I’m not sure how this works in other countries, but the co-op movement in Europe generally is huge, so there should be some good resources on that side of the Atlantic.


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 11:28 AM, Tony Bacigalupo [email protected] wrote:

Trevor, I think a lot of us are excited to learn more about how you pulled this off!

I encountered early thoughts on this topic as well, but found it difficult to get a clear sense of how to go about in a way that would be viable. I think any more details you can provide on that would be helpful to others considering similar structures.

Thanks!
Tony

Projects: New Work CitiesOpen CoworkingCotivation

eBook: No More Sink Full of Mugs

Connect: Personal siteTwitterFacebook

New: Preorder the Ultimate Coworking Toolkit

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 8:53 AM, Jenifer Ross [email protected] wrote:

Ditto. Can you provide more details on the financial structure?

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 18, 2016, at 10:40 AM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

I’d love to know more about this. I’m certainly sold on the value alignment but I don’t have a sense for how it works.

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Apologies. I used an internal link.

Here’s the real link

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:40 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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Alex, I think I’ve mentioned before how much IndyHall has influenced the creation of our space. Without you sharing what y’all put together there I’d probably still be waiting for someone else to have built a space. You should come hang out for a bit with Jay Tennier and me and I’ll show you around :D. You’re a good bit younger than I am, but I consider you a mentor when it comes to what we’re collectively building. :smiley:

We are classified as a member or service co-op; our members have organized this business for the purpose of providing a specific range of services to its membership. We have a couple more co-ops in the works, and some of those are worker co-ops, some of them are marketing co-ops, and one of them is potentially a credit union).

When we get to profitability (we’re six months now at break-even, and slowly growing), we will decide as a group how to use the money: to reduce monthly subscriptions, invest in new gear, stockpile it to purchase our own property, or give a rebate at the end of the year. Whatever we do, it’s democratic: every member has one vote, no matter how much they invest or how much business they do with us. So in that sense, every member is already a partner.

We’re planning to open more spaces throughout the region: when we get there, we might offer member shares to raise the capital. These would be preferred shares, and so dividends would be paid out on those before the regular member shares. But they’d be non-voting.

Keep the questions coming! They’re useful for the next post :smiley:

···

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 1:55 PM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Here’s a link to the Ontario Co-operative Association, whose resources and advice were particularly valuable when we set up. If you’re in Ontario, they’re more than happy to offer some initial assistance. If you’re outside, they’re happy to refer you to the group in your area who can help. We’ve become quite involved in the Niagara Regional Co-op Network which is closely connected with On Co-Op.

http://www.ontario.coop/programs_services/coop_development/starting_a_coop

It’s a rich resource, but there’s still a lot of jargon. I’ll try to break our experience down in plain language.

  1. We were already meeting as a jelly group for 18 months before we started with our space, so we had a core community from which to build.
  1. As we were talking about the mutually-invested community we wanted to build, someone who was already working on a food co-op in our city asked if we had considered the model.
  1. We looked at the resources at the link above and enough connected that we decided this was the model for us.
  1. We filled out the incorporation forms ourselves. It took a couple of hours. (I can walk you through if you get to this stage)
  1. The membership fees from the founding members gave us the capital we needed to create the corporation and get the initial paperwork filed.
  1. Members pre-paid first, last and as many months as they could up-front so that we could build a nest egg. Some members provided member loans.
  1. Our membership model also encourages participation that doesn’t directly involve the space, so we have a larger group of members than space users. (our current membership is 70, but less than 30 use the space 1d/week or more)
  1. With that money in the bank, we were able to sign our lease, get our utilities set up, and hang our sign on the door.
  1. We have a board of 8 directors, and they help guide the long term direction of the group. I’m still chief resident volunteer cat-herder/tummler, and we’re working on expanding our service offering so we can pay someone to be in this role.
  1. Annually we have a meeting to review finances, vote on key changes in direction, and when we get to the point where we’re managing a surplus, the group will decide how that’s allocated.

Next coworking meetup-type thing we do, I’d be happy to present this as a talk in more detail.


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 12:00 PM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Thanks all, for your feedback so far.

Sounds like I need a (few?) follow up post(s). I’ll also post some links shortly to resources we used. In Canada, most co-ops are provincially incorporated, so I assume that in the US each state will have its own co-op legislation.

I’ll share what we did here in Ontario, and you should be able to figure out how that works in your province/state.

I’m not sure how this works in other countries, but the co-op movement in Europe generally is huge, so there should be some good resources on that side of the Atlantic.


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 11:28 AM, Tony Bacigalupo [email protected] wrote:

Trevor, I think a lot of us are excited to learn more about how you pulled this off!

I encountered early thoughts on this topic as well, but found it difficult to get a clear sense of how to go about in a way that would be viable. I think any more details you can provide on that would be helpful to others considering similar structures.

Thanks!
Tony

Projects: New Work CitiesOpen CoworkingCotivation

eBook: No More Sink Full of Mugs

Connect: Personal siteTwitterFacebook

New: Preorder the Ultimate Coworking Toolkit

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

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You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Join the list: http://coworkingweekly.com

Listen to the podcast: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/podcast

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 8:53 AM, Jenifer Ross [email protected] wrote:

Ditto. Can you provide more details on the financial structure?

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 18, 2016, at 10:40 AM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

I’d love to know more about this. I’m certainly sold on the value alignment but I don’t have a sense for how it works.

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Apologies. I used an internal link.

Here’s the real link

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:40 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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Hi,

I thought I would share some computer consultants coop (co-op) history from 1986 - 1988.

We Wanted to be Like a Medieval Craftmen’s Guild or the Food Coop

I was a co-founder and the Executive Director of “small systems guild” (yes, all lower case) in Ann Arbor, Michigan (1986 - 88). We were modeled after the Guilds of Medieval craftsmen. We were about 60 Macintosh programmers, who also liked the philosophy of the Ann Arbor Food Coop. Our group had been mostly individual freelancers and 2 person consultancies. We decided to rent about 10,000 square feet of warehouse space and came together to form a worker owned cooperative that would present itself to clients as a much bigger enterprise than any of us would have been able to do on our own. At that time The University of Michigan had the largest number of Macintosh computers anywhere on the planet, and our group came together from having been members of the “Mactechnics” Macintosh Users Group.

Size Gave us Power

In 1986, no one used the word coworking. The spirit and practice of coworking was a part of what we built, but we went much further. We became a democratically run worker owned cooperative. We were able to do things that none of us would have been able to accomplish in our previous small consultancies or freelancer positions.

  • SSG (small systems guild) organized the first National Apple Users Group conference in Ann Arbor in 1986. Attendees included Bill Gates, Alan Kay (co-inventor of Smalltalk), Ted Nelson (He coined the terms hypertext and hypermedia in 1963) and many other notable folks.
  • SSG got contracts with Apple to develop curricula for Macintosh programmer training
  • SSG flew people around the country to deliver Macintosh programmer training classes
  • SSG was a 4th Dimension partner (popular Mac relational database) and published a monthly newsletter that came with code on a floppy disk and was distributed internationally.
  • SSG had a large contract with Dayton Power & Light that created a hypermedia process monitoring system on Macs for a coal fired electric power plant. Plant operators could scan in a plant diagram and then select from a filterable list of 10,000 data points (temperature, pressure, voltages, amps, etc.) to drag and drop them onto the diagram, which would display live data when reopening that diagram. What SSG built in 1988 was very much like what we would see years later in web browsers.

Guild Points Earned Ownership Shares

All of the infrastructure was run by members logging hours when answering the phone, emptying the trash, creating marketing materials, etc. These hours were unpaid, but a member earned one guild point for every hour worked, regardless of the type of work. Your member ownership percentage in the guild was equal to your total guild points divided by the total number of outstanding guild points of all the membership. Profits at the end of the year were to be distributed to members based on the percentage of ownership.

Billable Hours

Members only earned dollars when we were able to bill a client in a 3 tier price point system of (1) $20/hour, (2) $50/hour, (3) $100/hour. SSG took 10% to pay for infrastructure and members got to get 90% of the billable rate.

What Went Wrong?

We never made a profit because a 10% margin was not enough to pay for the infrastructure. So, no profit sharing at the end of the year was possible. Many of the members who earned guild points answering phones, etc. never got above the $20/hour billable rate and didn’t get enough of those hours. We should have taken 20 - 30% margin for infrastructure and used that to pay a decent wage for infrastructure support staff (we had many heated debates about this that weren’t much different than a psychology encounter group). We failed to write non-compete contracts for people and some members left the group, taking business with them.

What Went Right?

We got amazing experience for our resumes. When the cooperative structure was about to implode in 1988, I paid $30,000 to buy the company, we downsized to 3 people and we successfully finished the Dayton Power & Light contract, which funded us for the next two years. This was probably higher than the marketplace would have paid for what was left at that time. I determined the price by multiplying the number of outstanding guild points by minimum wage at the time in Michigan. By finally offering compensation, to those who had worked for free, I earned the loyalty of many for years to come. Many of the original guild members came to work for me at Arbor Intelligent Systems, Inc. which I sold in 1998 for $3.1 million. During those years I gave stock in the company to our employees and while we were no longer a democratically run worker owned cooperative, I always tried to listen to my staff, pay people to develop software products when consultants did not have billable hours with clients and we kept much of the cooperative spirit going.

I’m still interested in democratically run worker owned cooperatives and planning to head to Cuba to see first hand what they are doing.

Best,

@DrRon

···

On Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 3:36:39 PM UTC-5, Trevor Twining wrote:

Alex, I think I’ve mentioned before how much IndyHall has influenced the creation of our space. Without you sharing what y’all put together there I’d probably still be waiting for someone else to have built a space. You should come hang out for a bit with Jay Tennier and me and I’ll show you around :D. You’re a good bit younger than I am, but I consider you a mentor when it comes to what we’re collectively building. :smiley:

We are classified as a member or service co-op; our members have organized this business for the purpose of providing a specific range of services to its membership. We have a couple more co-ops in the works, and some of those are worker co-ops, some of them are marketing co-ops, and one of them is potentially a credit union).

When we get to profitability (we’re six months now at break-even, and slowly growing), we will decide as a group how to use the money: to reduce monthly subscriptions, invest in new gear, stockpile it to purchase our own property, or give a rebate at the end of the year. Whatever we do, it’s democratic: every member has one vote, no matter how much they invest or how much business they do with us. So in that sense, every member is already a partner.

We’re planning to open more spaces throughout the region: when we get there, we might offer member shares to raise the capital. These would be preferred shares, and so dividends would be paid out on those before the regular member shares. But they’d be non-voting.

Keep the questions coming! They’re useful for the next post :smiley:


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 3:15 PM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Man, I love seeing the Indy Hall playbook in action like this <3 <3

Echoing lots of what’s been said here - I look forward to a more detailed follow up post :slight_smile:

We have a few members that are VERY active in the co-op world and we often get together to talk about how much co-op DNA Indy Hall has.

I’ve also learned a lot about the different kinds of co-ops, including member co-ops, employee co-ops, etc. Is there a specific kind of co-op you chose? Are there any financial benefits to a member-owner, like dividends or discounts? Are new members given opportunities to become member-partners now that you’re up and running?

-Alex


The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Join the list: http://coworkingweekly.com

Listen to the podcast: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/podcast

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 1:55 PM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Here’s a link to the Ontario Co-operative Association, whose resources and advice were particularly valuable when we set up. If you’re in Ontario, they’re more than happy to offer some initial assistance. If you’re outside, they’re happy to refer you to the group in your area who can help. We’ve become quite involved in the Niagara Regional Co-op Network which is closely connected with On Co-Op.

http://www.ontario.coop/programs_services/coop_development/starting_a_coop

It’s a rich resource, but there’s still a lot of jargon. I’ll try to break our experience down in plain language.

  1. We were already meeting as a jelly group for 18 months before we started with our space, so we had a core community from which to build.
  1. As we were talking about the mutually-invested community we wanted to build, someone who was already working on a food co-op in our city asked if we had considered the model.
  1. We looked at the resources at the link above and enough connected that we decided this was the model for us.
  1. We filled out the incorporation forms ourselves. It took a couple of hours. (I can walk you through if you get to this stage)
  1. The membership fees from the founding members gave us the capital we needed to create the corporation and get the initial paperwork filed.
  1. Members pre-paid first, last and as many months as they could up-front so that we could build a nest egg. Some members provided member loans.
  1. Our membership model also encourages participation that doesn’t directly involve the space, so we have a larger group of members than space users. (our current membership is 70, but less than 30 use the space 1d/week or more)
  1. With that money in the bank, we were able to sign our lease, get our utilities set up, and hang our sign on the door.
  1. We have a board of 8 directors, and they help guide the long term direction of the group. I’m still chief resident volunteer cat-herder/tummler, and we’re working on expanding our service offering so we can pay someone to be in this role.
  1. Annually we have a meeting to review finances, vote on key changes in direction, and when we get to the point where we’re managing a surplus, the group will decide how that’s allocated.

Next coworking meetup-type thing we do, I’d be happy to present this as a talk in more detail.


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 12:00 PM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Thanks all, for your feedback so far.

Sounds like I need a (few?) follow up post(s). I’ll also post some links shortly to resources we used. In Canada, most co-ops are provincially incorporated, so I assume that in the US each state will have its own co-op legislation.

I’ll share what we did here in Ontario, and you should be able to figure out how that works in your province/state.

I’m not sure how this works in other countries, but the co-op movement in Europe generally is huge, so there should be some good resources on that side of the Atlantic.


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 11:28 AM, Tony Bacigalupo [email protected] wrote:

Trevor, I think a lot of us are excited to learn more about how you pulled this off!

I encountered early thoughts on this topic as well, but found it difficult to get a clear sense of how to go about in a way that would be viable. I think any more details you can provide on that would be helpful to others considering similar structures.

Thanks!
Tony

Projects: New Work CitiesOpen CoworkingCotivation

eBook: No More Sink Full of Mugs

Connect: Personal siteTwitterFacebook

New: Preorder the Ultimate Coworking Toolkit

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 8:53 AM, Jenifer Ross [email protected] wrote:

Ditto. Can you provide more details on the financial structure?

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 18, 2016, at 10:40 AM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

I’d love to know more about this. I’m certainly sold on the value alignment but I don’t have a sense for how it works.

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Apologies. I used an internal link.

Here’s the real link

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:40 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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Following up on this thread from last month - I got Trevor in for an episode of the Coworking Weekly Show to dig deeper into this decision to start Cowork Niagra as a co-op.

But we also got into a pretty epic conversation about the economic development impact of coworking - he’s doing a better job than we are of tracking that impact than we are, and that put some things into perspective.

If you’re new to the show and haven’t subscribed yet, give it a listen here:

http://dangerouslyawesome.com/2016/03/we-almost-sold-out-on-our-principles-before-we-even-started/ or on iTunes (coworkingweekly.com/show).

And big thanks to Trevor for bringing serious knowledge bombs to this episode to go another level deeper on these topics - we’re already talking about the next time he’s going to join me on the show :slight_smile:

-Alex

···

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 3:36 PM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Alex, I think I’ve mentioned before how much IndyHall has influenced the creation of our space. Without you sharing what y’all put together there I’d probably still be waiting for someone else to have built a space. You should come hang out for a bit with Jay Tennier and me and I’ll show you around :D. You’re a good bit younger than I am, but I consider you a mentor when it comes to what we’re collectively building. :smiley:

We are classified as a member or service co-op; our members have organized this business for the purpose of providing a specific range of services to its membership. We have a couple more co-ops in the works, and some of those are worker co-ops, some of them are marketing co-ops, and one of them is potentially a credit union).

When we get to profitability (we’re six months now at break-even, and slowly growing), we will decide as a group how to use the money: to reduce monthly subscriptions, invest in new gear, stockpile it to purchase our own property, or give a rebate at the end of the year. Whatever we do, it’s democratic: every member has one vote, no matter how much they invest or how much business they do with us. So in that sense, every member is already a partner.

We’re planning to open more spaces throughout the region: when we get there, we might offer member shares to raise the capital. These would be preferred shares, and so dividends would be paid out on those before the regular member shares. But they’d be non-voting.

Keep the questions coming! They’re useful for the next post :smiley:


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 3:15 PM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Man, I love seeing the Indy Hall playbook in action like this <3 <3

Echoing lots of what’s been said here - I look forward to a more detailed follow up post :slight_smile:

We have a few members that are VERY active in the co-op world and we often get together to talk about how much co-op DNA Indy Hall has.

I’ve also learned a lot about the different kinds of co-ops, including member co-ops, employee co-ops, etc. Is there a specific kind of co-op you chose? Are there any financial benefits to a member-owner, like dividends or discounts? Are new members given opportunities to become member-partners now that you’re up and running?

-Alex

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Join the list: http://coworkingweekly.com

Listen to the podcast: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/podcast

Where will you be on April 21st?


The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Join the list: http://coworkingweekly.com

Listen to the podcast: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/podcast

On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 1:55 PM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Here’s a link to the Ontario Co-operative Association, whose resources and advice were particularly valuable when we set up. If you’re in Ontario, they’re more than happy to offer some initial assistance. If you’re outside, they’re happy to refer you to the group in your area who can help. We’ve become quite involved in the Niagara Regional Co-op Network which is closely connected with On Co-Op.

http://www.ontario.coop/programs_services/coop_development/starting_a_coop

It’s a rich resource, but there’s still a lot of jargon. I’ll try to break our experience down in plain language.

  1. We were already meeting as a jelly group for 18 months before we started with our space, so we had a core community from which to build.
  1. As we were talking about the mutually-invested community we wanted to build, someone who was already working on a food co-op in our city asked if we had considered the model.
  1. We looked at the resources at the link above and enough connected that we decided this was the model for us.
  1. We filled out the incorporation forms ourselves. It took a couple of hours. (I can walk you through if you get to this stage)
  1. The membership fees from the founding members gave us the capital we needed to create the corporation and get the initial paperwork filed.
  1. Members pre-paid first, last and as many months as they could up-front so that we could build a nest egg. Some members provided member loans.
  1. Our membership model also encourages participation that doesn’t directly involve the space, so we have a larger group of members than space users. (our current membership is 70, but less than 30 use the space 1d/week or more)
  1. With that money in the bank, we were able to sign our lease, get our utilities set up, and hang our sign on the door.
  1. We have a board of 8 directors, and they help guide the long term direction of the group. I’m still chief resident volunteer cat-herder/tummler, and we’re working on expanding our service offering so we can pay someone to be in this role.
  1. Annually we have a meeting to review finances, vote on key changes in direction, and when we get to the point where we’re managing a surplus, the group will decide how that’s allocated.

Next coworking meetup-type thing we do, I’d be happy to present this as a talk in more detail.


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 12:00 PM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Thanks all, for your feedback so far.

Sounds like I need a (few?) follow up post(s). I’ll also post some links shortly to resources we used. In Canada, most co-ops are provincially incorporated, so I assume that in the US each state will have its own co-op legislation.

I’ll share what we did here in Ontario, and you should be able to figure out how that works in your province/state.

I’m not sure how this works in other countries, but the co-op movement in Europe generally is huge, so there should be some good resources on that side of the Atlantic.


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 11:28 AM, Tony Bacigalupo [email protected] wrote:

Trevor, I think a lot of us are excited to learn more about how you pulled this off!

I encountered early thoughts on this topic as well, but found it difficult to get a clear sense of how to go about in a way that would be viable. I think any more details you can provide on that would be helpful to others considering similar structures.

Thanks!
Tony

Projects: New Work CitiesOpen CoworkingCotivation

eBook: No More Sink Full of Mugs

Connect: Personal siteTwitterFacebook

New: Preorder the Ultimate Coworking Toolkit

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 8:53 AM, Jenifer Ross [email protected] wrote:

Ditto. Can you provide more details on the financial structure?

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 18, 2016, at 10:40 AM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

I’d love to know more about this. I’m certainly sold on the value alignment but I don’t have a sense for how it works.

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Apologies. I used an internal link.

Here’s the real link

http://coworkniagara.com/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:40 AM, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Hey everyone,

When we were developing the business plan for our space two years ago, a prospective member asked us if we had considered setting Cowork Niagara up as a co-operative. We didn’t know what that was, so we checked it out.

It was the best thing that we could have done. We’re the only co-operative coworking space in english-speaking Canada (there’s one other in Quebec). I’m now convinced that if more spaces use this model it will help create stronger, more resilient coworking communities. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it piques your collective curiosity.

I wrote a post about it on our newly-launched blog. If any of you have any questions about this, feel free to ask.

http://cowork/blog/2016/02/10/why-co-operatives-and-coworking-go-hand-in-hand/


Trevor Twining

Cowork Niagara

http://coworkniagara.com

Home of Niagara’s independent workforce

twitter: @coworkniagara, @trevortwining

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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This is a great thread. I'm interested in talking with everyone who has a co-op or workplace democracy and is interested in sharing more best practices.

Collective Agency started very similarly, out of Jellies, then we did presales. Members have not wanted to be a legal co-op and have not wanted a board, and voting rights are without needing buy-in, like voting in a city or village. We went too far in the direction of members-only, and lost some serendipity, but instantly got that back recently at open events. We are a workplace democracy, and have been described as a "hybrid model" between being a workers coop and a buyers/members coop. We are a member organization of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives; sister companies in Portland include Equal Exchange, People's Food Coop, and CityBikes. We were a member of WorldBlu and won awards in 2013.

Alex Linsker, Collective Agency, Portland Oregon http://collectiveagency.co

Alex, this is fascinating. I want to make sure I understand: are you saying that anyone can walk in off the street and have no financial stake in your organization, but still participate in making decisions?

Trevor Twining
[email protected]
416-201-2254
twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

···

On Mar 29, 2016, at 8:38 , Alex Linsker <[email protected]> wrote:

This is a great thread. I'm interested in talking with everyone who has a co-op or workplace democracy and is interested in sharing more best practices.

Collective Agency started very similarly, out of Jellies, then we did presales. Members have not wanted to be a legal co-op and have not wanted a board, and voting rights are without needing buy-in, like voting in a city or village. We went too far in the direction of members-only, and lost some serendipity, but instantly got that back recently at open events. We are a workplace democracy, and have been described as a "hybrid model" between being a workers coop and a buyers/members coop. We are a member organization of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives; sister companies in Portland include Equal Exchange, People's Food Coop, and CityBikes. We were a member of WorldBlu and won awards in 2013.

Alex Linsker, Collective Agency, Portland Oregon http://collectiveagency.co

--
Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com
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I know you’re addressing Alex Linsker, but I wanted to share that I’m going through this in a big way right now. With Indy Hall moving in the next 4-5 months and we have a LOT of members heavily involved in the decision making, though our ownership structure is a simple LLC and we don’t have a formal voting process. Right now we are going through some very tactical space design decisions for the new spot, and it’s been AMAZING.

It’s been especially interesting to notice the similarities and differences between the people who have been members for a while and members who are brand new. In some cases, brand new members see things from a fresh perspective and have done a great job of reminding longtime members of things they might take for granted.

One of our metrics for success is actually “time to contribution” - essentially how long from joining does it take a member to find their thing to add to the mix and make the community better. For a lot of people, participating in a public decision is a gateway drug for leading something of their own. Faster isn’t necessarily better than slower, it’s just something we pay attention to.

The way I see this, it allows us to have any member, even if they just walked in the door today, to feel like a “founding member” even if it’s in a small way.

That level of buy in doesn’t depend on formal ownership - instead it depends on our leadership style that actively notices what people what to do and back them up/celebrate them. The payoff can end up being multifaceted; in some cases it helps people’s business, their confidence, their creativity, their network, etc. and for us the short and long term benefits range from people telling their stories and helping more people learn about us, to increasing member lifetime, to simply perpetuating the effect of members knowing that their participation is valued and valuable.

-Alex (Hillman)

···

On Wednesday, March 30, 2016, Trevor Twining [email protected] wrote:

Alex, this is fascinating. I want to make sure I understand: are you saying that anyone can walk in off the street and have no financial stake in your organization, but still participate in making decisions?

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Mar 29, 2016, at 8:38 , Alex Linsker [email protected] wrote:

This is a great thread. I’m interested in talking with everyone who has a co-op or workplace democracy and is interested in sharing more best practices.

Collective Agency started very similarly, out of Jellies, then we did presales. Members have not wanted to be a legal co-op and have not wanted a board, and voting rights are without needing buy-in, like voting in a city or village. We went too far in the direction of members-only, and lost some serendipity, but instantly got that back recently at open events. We are a workplace democracy, and have been described as a “hybrid model” between being a workers coop and a buyers/members coop. We are a member organization of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives; sister companies in Portland include Equal Exchange, People’s Food Coop, and CityBikes. We were a member of WorldBlu and won awards in 2013.

Alex Linsker, Collective Agency, Portland Oregon http://collectiveagency.co

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.
Join the list: http://coworkingweekly.com
Listen to the podcast: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/podcast

Hi Trevor, I’m glad you like the concept. Here’s some models of how I think about workplace democracy, and how it works. If you’re into metaphors, there are two brand metaphors that work well for us: if it isn’t like a cozy fireplace, we don’t do it (although recently, community workplace has become more relevant), and if it isn’t what we ideally want for a small city or village, we don’t do it (I think that is similar to community workplace).

At Collective Agency we are a workplace democracy. For our sister companies, check out

I. Values. If we were a country, we would be rated around 90 out of 100 for democracy. We no longer have voting for individuals, but we have voting on issues that affect everybody, and we are a participatory (action-packed) democracy (rather than a deliberative (talky/debatey) democracy). We are a business democracy, in the sense that we are results-focused (policy-focused). Members value that we’re a place for productive work (which includes all aspects of democracy here), cozy workplace, openness, people doing a variety of work, each with individual goals, appreciative, cooperative, etc.

II. It might help to think of 4 models of decision-making.

  1. Authority; picture a top-down decision-tree.

  2. Anarchy; picture lots of free-floating circles of various sizes without overlap.

  3. Democracy; picture a Venn diagram, with a dotted-line circle a short distance from the three circles.

  4. Open-source; picture chairs in a circle facing inwards to a dot at the center, with a solid-line circle a short distance around the chairs.

People generally are drawn to one of these especially, and then to a secondary model. For me, it’s democracy, then authority (I’m open to calling it different names). For most people in open-source kernels, it’s open-source.

III. For the democracy model, in the place itself, there are 4 principles for vibrancy (these are by Jane Jacobs, for cities):

  1. Density (enough people for interactions).

  2. Frequent and easy pathways (enough overlap for interactions).

  3. Mixed-use (people there for various reasons; for variety throughout the day. Like-minded is not a goal in democracy, only in the open-source and authority models. Like-valued is a thing).

  4. Mixed-cost (people at various stages of life and income can overlap in ways that grow their quality of life).

Recently we had less of all of these, and the solution for all 4 symptoms was that we had closed off our borders; the dotted line around our Venn diagram had become a solid line. And so now we are becoming more open to the public again, within limits. There is more serendipity, more smiles, more people, more conversations, more marketing, more joy, more stone-soup contributions.

IV. I think of there as being 3 goals that are aligned. Each of these goals is supported and grown by each decision, or we don’t do it:

  1. Revenue model.

  2. Community model.

  3. Personal property model.

V. Here’s how “anyone can make decisions” (yes, within limits) at Collective Agency in our democracy model.

For structure of decision-making, we have text:

  1. Community Guidelines (bill of rights and responsibilities): http://collectiveagency.co/community-guidelines/ This is the core of the terms of service and is binding on me as business owner, as well as on members and meetings as clients, and any visitor who enters the place or participates in forums online. I interpret it on the deepest level possible. There is a preface of principles which is important, and 9 generative (broad, rather than specfiic/prescriptive) rules. The guidelines’ preface is modified from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and the rules are modified from Souk LLC’s Community Guidelines.

  2. Terms of Service. http://collectiveagency.co/terms-of-service/ This sets some specific limits for ways people can be here.

  3. Quiz. http://collectiveagency,co/quiz/ After four and a half years, and a lot of data from a lot of interactions, we are trying this quiz and it’s going great. People who score very low aren’t responsible for their actions and complain more and generally don’t acknowledge the Community Guidelines are important. People who score too low are too often abrasive to other people. People who score high enough are more positive-focused and view themselves as having more influence and ability and expectation to make happen what they want, which is my main goal for democracy. We started with a qualifying score of 20 or more (1 in 4 people) and recently lowered it to 17 or more (1 in 2 people). The feedback has been very positive.

  4. Transparency. There are various documents that help transparency. The other pages on the website show people what to expect (and could be even better). We are bringing back open-book management. The homepage will change soon to become much more open and it will score much higher on the quiz.

  5. Community Mission Statement. We started with a council, and the council came up with this mission statement, and no matter what it seems hard to make it better for us as a place and community.

For action, we have:

  1. Civics/optional member meeting. This is a Q&A forum for clarifying questions, advice, suggestions, planning. Members and anyone who passes the quiz can show up and participate. We always start by going around in a circle and each person says saying their name and something they’re passionate about in 30 seconds or less. This sets personal values for the meeting (the Venn diagram). Then no one steps on anyone else’s values; we honor and are appreciative of each other’s values during the meeting and after. During the meeting, we talk through upcoming events, and ask for input on making them even better and for RSVP’s/commitments, and for ideas for future events. Any question can be asked and answered within the community guidelines. Sometimes members initiate and organize other members, such as the time that part of the room was rearranged during a Feng Shui happy hour, as led by two members, making it much more usable. Pluralism is a value (not universalism); we try to have something that everybody really likes. If one person really likes one area of the room, and really dislikes another area of the room, that’s great, because they have a place they really like. If no one really likes that area of the room, then we make it so that someone who isn’t thrilled by most parts of the room really like that part of the room. This ends up with roughly four groups of people, in a literal Venn diagram, we have a main table in the middle that has the most social interactions.

  2. Lunch each day. This is the most natural event for us. Members initiated it from the start, and lead it when staff doesn’t. We walk to the food carts nearby, or sometimes other places. Then we come back and eat on the sofas in the big loft room.

  3. Happy hours. The holiday party each year is the most popular event. We have a happy hour roughly each month, about half here and half out at a bar. Members suggest the happy hour and enough people commit to it.

  4. Works-in-progress presentations. When we opened, Lightning Talks were suggested by more than 10 people. Three people would share, roughly 10 minutes each, with a presentation. That evolved into works-in-progress sharing, which is less expert-sharing and more peer-to-peer. Recently members haven’t had as much interest in that.

  5. Impromptu conversations. This comes out of the earlier events. People ask advice and form friendships.

  6. Individual initiatives and group initiatives. People (members and people here free) can: move furniture, write on the Suggestions and Appreciations posterboards in the kitchen, host user groups or coworking/conversation meetings in conference rooms or in the big loft room (up to 14 people), and anything else within the Community Guidelines/Terms of Service.

VI. The value of democracy for a business (see Rosabeth Kanter’s book Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End):

  1. Initiative.

  2. Accountability

  3. Collaboration.

···

I agree with everything Alex Hillman wrote on this thread about the value of new member contributions. We went through a rough patch 2.5 years ago, where our level of culture had gone way down. Some members said they should have more rights because they had been a member for longer. And other members said no, in a democracy, it’s not about how long you’ve been there, it’s one vote per person. Recently my favorite example of this is how we have tampons in restrooms now, because a newer member suggested them, and more new members and people here for meetings said they appreciated them. I think what people start with experiencing, is what they expect long-term, and that’s been hard for me sometimes to throw off old baggage and get used to the new phase (whatever it is), which seems to happen every 3 months, we move into a new phase (and mistakes can last for 9 months without becoming a major problem). People coming in free, see what it is right now, and can verbalize it, and be heard, and solve it, and even lead it, in an appreciative, openness, productive workplace democracy. Curious to hear more thoughts/questions/similar models. Alex Linsker, Collective Agency, Portland Oregon, http://collectiveagency.co/

On Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 5:18:38 AM UTC-7, Trevor Twining wrote:

Alex, this is fascinating. I want to make sure I understand: are you saying that anyone can walk in off the street and have no financial stake in your organization, but still participate in making decisions?

Trevor Twining

[email protected]

416-201-2254

twitter/skype/linkedin: trevortwining

On Mar 29, 2016, at 8:38 , Alex Linsker [email protected] wrote:

This is a great thread. I’m interested in talking with everyone who has a co-op or workplace democracy and is interested in sharing more best practices.

Collective Agency started very similarly, out of Jellies, then we did presales. Members have not wanted to be a legal co-op and have not wanted a board, and voting rights are without needing buy-in, like voting in a city or village. We went too far in the direction of members-only, and lost some serendipity, but instantly got that back recently at open events. We are a workplace democracy, and have been described as a “hybrid model” between being a workers coop and a buyers/members coop. We are a member organization of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives; sister companies in Portland include Equal Exchange, People’s Food Coop, and CityBikes. We were a member of WorldBlu and won awards in 2013.

Alex Linsker, Collective Agency, Portland Oregon http://collectiveagency.co


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