Longueuil, Quebec (a suburb of Montreal)
I consider this conference a big success. Every session was good, and a number were outstanding. Two of them were so useful that I wrote them up in detail: converting businesses to worker co-ops and addressing power dynamics. Additionally, we made many new contacts and renewed some old friendships. (If you don’t see the captions on the photos, click here.)
Common themes across presentations:
- Research on co-ops needs to continue, and increase. Research needs to be applied by cooperators and policy-makers.
- Ongoing education of cooperators (and the general public) is very important. The co-op model is applicable across academic fields, not just business studies.
- The co-op principles are not just an ethical standard, but a comparative advantage, as well.
- Revenue is not the only indicator of success. There’s also embodying the co-op principles — however, this is difficult to measure. Multiple groups are experimenting with ways to do so.
- Co-ops that address a need will succeed. Those that do not will struggle.
- Clear, thoughtful, effective communication is a vital co-op skill.
- Individual co-ops need to scale up, but if we cooperate between co-ops, scale is already there.
- Growth is an important goal, to the extent it means meeting more needs, not for its own sake.
We talked with a representative of the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops (the equivalent of MadWorC in western Massachusetts) about their internal loan fund, and the Co-Executive Director of the Vermont Worker Ownership Center about the co-op investment club in his area. These talks are also written up in a separate document.
Extensive notes on the presentations are available on request.