What we do: Cooperative engagement.
CoMinnesota is an expanding community of Minnesota cooperators and allies that gather to tell and write the stories of how cooperative enterprises build a better world.
- We create welcoming spaces and events where we invite all persons to learn about and build on each others’ work.
- We create working and social networks that help cooperative partners and allies pursue collaborative work.
- We work to build a cooperative community in Minnesota.
CoMinnesota started in late 2011 in response to a questions, “Why in the state of Minnesota, which has the most cooperatives of any state, isn’t there more cross-sector collaboration and promotion of the cooperatives? What can be done about that?”
Since then a fluid network of cooperative volunteers has responded to this challenge by comingling cooperators at ongoing programming ranging from special events to regular brown bag topic lunches and happy hours. We have also maintained the skeletal infrastructure of a Steering Committee, a website and an email newsletter sent to a list of almost 700.
In order to secure a sustainable future, the Steering Committee believed CoMinnesota needs a defined membership structure and base from which it can draw governance, financial, and volunteer support.
At the start of 2017, the Steering Committee conducted a survey of its 700 email list contacts and received enough encouraging results to move forward with a membership drive. (The survey results can be found on the cominnesota.coop website.)
For the coming year, 2017, we envision:
- Establishing CoMinnesota as a membership organization, and working to grow membership;
- Sharing information on upcoming co-op events and activities through our e-newsletter.
- Hosting regular happy hour networking events and brown bag educational discussions; and,
- Creating at least one larger public event, in addition to our Annual Meeting
Financially, we will be supported by annual dues from individuals, and sponsorships from co-ops and allies. Programs will be available to everyone, regardless of membership status. The value of membership is to be directly involved in CoMinnesota’s governance and strategic direction, and to provide the financial capacity for the work to continue.
Financial participation (skin in the game) is a key co-op principal (#2). We trust you will participate according to your means.
Our dues amount is $25.
Join us here. (check back later for active form.)
Membership status gives you a vote in selecting the Steering Committee and other ballot initiatives, as well as the chance to better engage in the community and work of CoMinnesota.
Add to your Co-op Principal 6 karma!
What is a Cooperative?
From Cooperative Ownership and Equity — Margaret Lund
“Not for profit, not for charity, but for service” is one common way that credit unions differentiate their activities from those of other economic enterprises, and it works well as a concise and accurate descriptor for the whole cooperative sector. Cooperatives are business enterprises, not charitable organizations, so they are not the same as non-profits; yet they do not exist to maximize profits, so they are not the same as investor-owned firms. Cooperatives are enterprises that are democratically owned and controlled by the people who benefit from them and are operated collaboratively for the purpose of providing services to these beneficiaries or members.
The International Cooperative Alliance defines a cooperative as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.” A co-op is an enterprise formed by a group of people to meet their own self-defined goals. These goals may be economic, social, cultural, or as is commonly the case, some combination.
In a cooperative, only participants who have met the requirements for membership are allowed to be owners. All cooperatives operate on the principle of “one member, one vote”, so control is allocated evenly among the users of the co-op without regard to how much money each has invested. Cooperatives operate for the benefit of members, and those benefits are distributed in proportion to each member’s transactions with the cooperative. In a co-op, the answer to the question of “who owns, who controls and who benefits from the enterprise?” is always the same – the cooperative members.
Cooperatives operate in virtually every country in the world, and in almost every kind of industry. They can be organized and owned by workers, consumers, producers, small businesses, other cooperatives or even some combination of these categories.
The co-operative principles and values (as stewarded by the ICA) are guidelines by which all co-operatives put their values into practice.
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy,equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
1. Voluntary and Open Membership
Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
2. Democratic Member Control
Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.
3. Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
4. Autonomy and Independence
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
5. Education, Training and Information
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
6. Co-operation among Co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7. Concern for Community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.
Given these shared core principles and common objectives, however, the exact way in which each co-op is structured can vary enormously.
Plesae visit our resources section for mor information.