2017 Co-op Vermont Update

This blog has been quiet for a while, but I got a note recently from someone inquiring about it, so I figured I’d post a version of update I recently sent to the Co-op Vermont mailchimp list. I (Matt) am now working close to full time for the Vermont Employee Ownership Center, and am also involved in the Vermont Solidarity Investing Club (which invests exclusively in co-ops), as well as Full Barrel Co-op, among other projects.

In any case, the update:

Pivot from Organizational to Individual Membership – After the Co-op Summit last May, it had become apparent from our work that there did not seem to be sufficient interest or sense of value on the part of a critical mass of co-ops to justify a formal “co-op of co-ops” at that time. However, it was also clear that there exists a network of passionate cooperators interested in doing more to advance our state’s co-op economy. Thus, when considering how to transition from and organizational to an individual focus, I ultimately came to the conclusion that a…

Co-op Investment Club was the way to go. Modeled after the Co-op Principal club in Minneapolis, the Vermont Solidarity Investing Club launched in January 2017 and presently has 19 members, including a number of stalwarts from the Cooperative Vermont steering committee. Members invest between $20 and $100 per month in the club, and democratically decide at (roughly bi-monthly) meetings where to best invest the aggregated funds to build the co-op economy. If you’re interested in learning more and potentially joining this effort, please fill out this form.

Co-op Month Gathering – In the last steering committee conversations, one idea that was batted around was of trying to organize a low-key Vermont co-op gathering at some point during Co-op Month (October). With summer approaching, the time to get the ball rolling on that front is coming up soon, and if you would like to be involved in the planning, please drop a line!

#BuyTwitter Campaign & Mastodon Social.Coop – One of the most exciting things happening in the Platform Co-op space right now is the #BuyTwitter campaign, which is pushing the vision of the users buying out the social media platform and transforming it into user-owned co-op. A shareholder vote on commissioning a feasibility study will be taken at the Twitter annual meeting on May 22, and the organizing has led to some high profile press, which has given the co-op model fantastic exposure! If you’d like to support the campaign, please sign this petition, and follow @BuyThisPlatform on Twitter for updates and to signal boost the Twitter co-op conversations!

In parallel to this campaign, a group has come together to work on launching a platform co-op instance of the new Mastodon open-source federated social network. The goal is to have the instance up and running in time for the 5/22 #BuyTwitter vote, and for it to serve as a social hub for the global co-op movement community, while also creating a working example of a social network running on a platform co-op business model. If you are interested in helping with this project, join the Loomio group here.

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