Hello Co-operator is a series in which we meet members of the Philadelphia co-op community.
1.What is your experience with cooperatives?
I grew up in NYC and my parents shopped at a Co-op on the Lower East Side. I joined REI in school and worked for one of their retail stores part-time and have been active in my life with Weavers Way volunteering on committees and eventually on the board.
2. What is the most important thing you’ve learned from being a co-operator?
I have learned that it is lots of work to try to do things yourself and a different kind of work when you’ve got cooperators thrown into the mix. But that the community and the bonds built are resilient and contribute to our quality of life. That many things are possible and that education and continual learning is vital to the progress of the cooperative movement.
3. What kind of brand new co-op would be successful in Philadelphia?
I think that with some commitment and analysis, a model for worker cooperatives could be developed to not re-distribute wealth but to keep it in the inner city.
4. How would you describe a cooperative to someone who’d never heard of the idea?
I would first use the words, “Cooperative Enterprise” to make sure they got that this was a business model and not a charity or non-profit in that 501(c)3 federal tax designation. I would then say that it was similar to a partnership, a really big partnership kinda like “LA Law” was. Only in a partnership some of the partners are more “equal” than others since they can own varying share of the company. In a Co-op all the owners have an equal share with no one able to own more than another giving everyone one vote in deciding leadership and policy. It’s like any other business that wants to be a going concern, they can stay in business, as long as all the bills get paid.