Cooperatives and the New Economy

The Montana Coop is an idea in bloom – aided now by the onset of spring and maybe by wider forces.

The Spring issue of Yes! magazine highlights coops in an article titled “How Cooperatives are Driving the New Economy.” This is good news. Here’s a chart from the article with some details:
Coops: Not Business as Usual

Here is a list of cooperative economy aspects addressed in the article:
– Owning our jobs.
– What’s so great about cooperatives?
– Unions and coops.
– Investing in people.
– Health insurance coops.
– Can depression-era electric coops bring green power to rural America?
– Six strategies to grow the cooperative economy.
– Evolved to cooperate. A new theory of evolution.

How exciting is this!

The Montana Coop is wending its way through the practical applications of coop creation and growth. It’s been a lot of work and promises to be more going forward.

The bottom line has to do with independent people learning to work together for something that benefits individuals and communities. This is the ‘evolutionary’ aspect of cooperative arrangements. The Yes! article by Eric Michael Johnson titled “New Theory of Evolution: Survival of the Nicest” by psychologist and co-director Michael Tomasello of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany posits the theory  that humans have an evolutionary legacy of cooperation and that “…human evolution has predisposed us to work collaboratively and given us an intuitive sense that cooperation deserves equal rewards.” Mr. Tomasello is not the only one writing on this subject.  See Khaled Diab at The Guardian UK; Why Sharing Pays Off – Stefan Klein on TEDxTalks (he includes a clip from Mr. Tomasello’s work.)

Take a look at this What’s So Good About Co-ops? chart from Yes!.

It Takes CooperationThe Montana Coop aims to conduct its business online – making use of on-the-ground local resources including food, farmers, artisans, businesses, etc. It’s a bold idea already being undertaken in Oklahoma and Idaho and several other spots around the US.

How will this work in Montana with our wide open spaces, miles between our fellow Montanans and the food and goods they need and what of the state of our online connectivity? We have a stacked set of issues.

But our strength is in our ability to collaborate, to cooperate – to bring the elements together to forge a successful venture that nurtures the positive aspects of human evolution. We can do it! One step at a time.

 

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