ALBERTA | Resilience in a Downturn.

Cooperatives 2018ALBERTA > RESILIENCE in a DOWNTURN | Co-ops have a long and distinguished history in Canada and around the world (see: …, and, in turbulent/changing times, they could also be one of the policy options to explore by wise & forward-locking societies, government agencies & economic development institutions.

BANKING | Look at banking cooperatives – in the past few years, these have grown, have kept credit available to small/medium sized enterprises, remaining reasonably stable across the country, other regions of the world, even creating jobs. Perhaps it is their unique blend of member ownership, member control, benefits and communities of trust that is at the heart of their resilience? – could it be that such approaches provide the edge over other models?

A CHANGING WORLD | We may be entering another “austerity period” – perhaps another cyclical crisis of our times. Maybe the time has come to take a closer look at the cooperative model, its values, performance and contribution today and what it can do for the future. To me, the resilience of the cooperative model of enterprise, resides in its values, and effectiveness in offering member-owners benefits and opportunities by creating a playing field for everyone to thrive.

WAYFINDERS BUSINESS COOPERATIVE | Is fairly new, known as a platform cooperative – an entity owned by its members, a democratically governed social enterprise operating in the clouds using a website (or) sites, mobile apps and protocols to facilitate the sale of goods and services. It aims to serve as a newer tool for democratic & economic participation that rest upon the free participation of equal partners, engaged in the production of common resources, be they good or services, and any combination thereof.

CORE VALUES | Generally speaking co-operatives aim at developing decent & fair paid work, address issues of economic disparities/social justice, economic inclusion, empowering their members to their own “agency” as full participants contributing broadly to the betterment of their communities. We should pay closer attention, and see how cooperatives can be one of the economic development tools to transform & diversify Alberta’s economy. –

About the Author: Leo Campos A. (LCA) is a HRP & Community Organizer & Animator, a Diversity & Inclusion Advisor; a Translator & Interpreter + Bilingual Social Marketing & Conscious Advertising Professional, based in Edmonton, AB (Canada). He is also a part-time advisor and community outreach & relationship builder for Wayfinders Business Cooperative © |

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EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE | by James Cox © | Benjamin Franklin said, “Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame.” But what is the antonym of that quote? Whatever is begun in happiness, ends in pride? Greatness? Honour? Doesn’t sound right, does it? He’s not just talking about your temper; that quote is about conjuring the correct emotions to impact the end result of any situation. The more you understand emotional intelligence, the stronger the social connections in your life will become. Being able to recognise your own emotions and those of your clients and colleagues can offer opportunities for you to connect on a deeper level, establishing a higher level of trust and rapport.

Absolute trust is ultimately the most significant connection people can have with their colleague, managers and business owners in the workplace. This also applies to your customers and clients in sales and customer service. Keeping your emotions in line with the bigger picture can help immensely with your personal attitude and demeanor and showing empathy and awareness for a client’s state of mind shows that you actually care. Above all else, both of these factors attribute to the motivations of your own self and anyone interested in buying from you. Your attitude impacts your behavior and that of people you deal with.

Developing these skills will allow you to manage your own state of mind and trigger your brain to look for a silver lining in every situation eventually helping you to stay positive in the long run. Sure, you can be pissed off, but being rational in your decision making is the point here. You will also learn to pick yourself up when you’re down and learn from your mistakes with more clarity. In sales, your job is to identify the issue or problem your client is trying to resolve. Emotional intelligence will provide you with a greater understanding of how to connect the dots of the emotional and rational stages of buying. Take the time to read facial expressions, don’t shut people down if they’re misinformed and listen to the tone of voice people use. You will pick up more from people’s emotions than you will from their language. –

Source: … | “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.” – Dale Carnegie

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BUILDING a BETTER CANADA | Co-operatives & Mutuals Organizations.

BUILDING a BETTER CANADA | Co-operatives & Mutuals Canada is a member-driven association that supports, promotes/unites co-operative & mutual organisations. It strives to advance the co-operative economy by organizing co-op development, advocating with government and conducting research to improve public policy. CMC serves as a common table for co-operatives/mutuals in Canada. Our strength comes from working together through the diversity of CMC’s membership. By working together we can develop & create an association whose work and collective reflection of its membership will ultimately build a better Canada. By furthering co-operatives and mutuals, we work to improve the lives of Canadians. Consider health care co-ops, Indigenous co-ops, agricultural co-ops, housing co-ops, food co-ops, funeral co-ops and co-ops in low-income communities – these and many others enable people to set up services they need, to access education, shelter, and a better standard of living. Cooperatives & Mutuals Canada © |

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Cooperatives 2018IN THE NEWS | KING’S UNIVERSITY > FACULTY of BUSINESS | You will be pleased to know that soon, we (Wayfinders Business Cooperative) will be involved with King’s University Faculty of Business and their Community Engaged Research Program (CER). This program builds upon the research capacities of community partners by supporting important initiatives – in this case, Wayfinders Business Cooperative. Through CER + 3 students assigned to us, we’ll be exploring key areas, such as sustainability of cooperatives; best practices of cooperatives, best practices of emerging platform cooperatives (such as ourselves) and our constantly evolving business model/plan. This initiative starts in early 2019; of course, we’ll be sharing findings as it goes along. We thank our friend and colleague David Long, faculty at King’s University for his interest & support; the CER Program which he leads & the kind people at Faculty of Business. – LCA

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WAYFINDERS | Diversity & Inclusion …

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Wayfinders > Diversity & Inclusion | It is easy to talk about diversity & inclusion – the challenge is the practice of it, in short how do we welcome newcomers into our entities and communities? It starts with a smile, perhaps an invitation to tea, coffee or refreshments, even dinner at your place. Ask them to bring something unique theirs along, and set a tone of recognition and celebration of our diverse nationalities and contributions to our nationhood.

Volunteering time with immigration and settlement agencies in our city would be another way – there are quite a few of them; simply ask around. If you have been reading or changing your own perception of immigrants & refugees in Canada and it is more positive & life affirming, definitely engaging, why not share your views and shape the tone and quality of the conversations on social media? I am always self-aware as to how I am dealing with my own cultural background, values, beliefs and assumptions? Do they help me to better participate in society, and do they invite others into my world in significant ways – am I open to learn about other cultural journeys, traditions and ways of being in the world?

Maybe hosting a monthly conversation at work on culture, diversity, racism, inclusion and exclusionary practices including gender, race, ethnicity, social or professional class – pay attention, and be mindful. Our City is a marvellous vessel of a range of humans from the forth corners of the planet – make a point of partaking in some of the events hosted by the city and remember Heritage Days in August – mingle, open up your world to others – let them in; become a mentor of new immigrants and/or refugees. You will be helping to build a better city, community, country and planet. And; remember to have some fun too! | LCA

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DIVERSITY & INCLUSION: actions speak louder than words. | Had lunch with some friends/colleagues recently – we are working on a particular cooperative platform project – to chat about the hot topic of diversity & inclusion, why it matters and how we in our evolving organization are working with it. In fact we were pleasantly surprised to discover that our early efforts at diversity & inclusion are producing results, some in terms of our membership-base and some related to our Board of Directors.

Much remains to be done for sure, we are still a nascent entity; what is important though, is that we started these conversations very early in our emerging journey and it is becoming a well understood message and practice – we are and will be a diverse and inclusive organization – it is really a win-win policy and cultural shift, worth pursuing and affirming – it is also good for business as it is said.

  • In my own personal journey of becoming a Canadian (I am originally from Chile) I experienced some challenges, perhaps some obstacles as well, around integration and participation in society; but, I was lucky, for at that time, due my Canadian family connections and roots, I was quickly introduced to a range of ways of “being Canadian” – multiculturalism, and of course, Indigenous Peoples as well. That helped in my settlement journey, and my learnings, including tapping in to this resource – in my social/professional life, and especially my family relational life as well. The key to understand here is that diversity and inclusion is essentially about expanding the circle and extending the proverbial table so everyone is at the table, no one excluded or left behind.
  • Leaders today need to tune in carefully to the changing demographics of our times; for instance, we hosted a morning conversation with Simon O’Byrne (Vice president Community Development at Stantec). His topic was community engagement & leadership and from that gathering we gleaned some simple, yet, empowering truths, such as the need to deepen the power of listening, to check our unconscious bias as to our positions power or authority within a given entity; to ask smart questions, to ask the whys, check our cultural assumptions, and to remember that “actions speak louder than words.”

Diversity and inclusion starts at home, in our own relationships with close friends, relatives and colleagues – and its travels through our doings, institutions, body-politics and what not – eventually reaching a critical mass where it becomes a given, natural and simply how we conduct our activities in all spheres of our lives. Whether at home, work, play, diversity & inclusion is about being in community with others; being valued and appreciated, one’s opinion and views matter, and especially letting people in their fullest human dimension.

I have over the years come to appreciate and likely benefit from diversity and inclusion – I have certainly seen the benefits across sectors, in my relations and in government and business policies and practices – and that’s the world we are also moving to; changing demographics, active listening smart questions, solid and informed decisions – aiming at creating and sustaining an inclusive community, city, country and world.

I benefit of course, but so does everyone else; we gain further understandings and insights, society becomes more cohesive, fairer, humane and engaging, we act ethically and with sound judgement. I invite you to look at your world through a different lens – see how diverse and inclusive it is, and what you can do to transform it. The more we do such, the easier it will be to foster diverse and inclusive milieus. Invite your circle of friends and colleagues to talk about it and … be prepared to change and be changed. –

About the Author: Leo Campos A. is a HRP & Community Organizer/Animator, a Diversity & Inclusion Advisor; a Translator & Interpreter + Bilingual Social Marketing & Conscious Advertising Professional, based in Edmonton, AB. He is also a part-time advisor and community outreach person with Wayfinders Business Cooperative.

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ECONOMICS: Thinking Out Loud …

COMMUNITY ECONOMICS | Thinking Out Loud | All societies are basically composed of communities and diverse ethno-cultural groups – thus, there are a range of living and civic engagements where these interact, and of course, based on an assortment of understandings, norms and behaviours impacting on our relationships with people & living systems. In the context of our changing demographics and the emerging presence of ethno-cultural entities we need to find a way to positioning cooperatives in accordance with a general understanding as to multiculturalism, ethno-cultural identities, and economic paradigmatic shifts.

  • “True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the “rejects of life,” to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands–whether of individuals or entire peoples–need be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world.”Paulo Freire

I am speaking of a general framework that acknowledges these unfolding realities and its work/business implications. This also requires a re-thinking of the notion of leadership, power and decision making, framed in a world where entreprenurialship, the “gig economy” and cooperative social enterprising are increasingly becoming the new currency.

What we have going here is a new instance of power, ownership and decision-making, so to speak – new in the sense that too many people have never paid much attention to other forms of economic organizing other than the free enterprise-conventional capitalism mode – no longer, as we can see all over – the monolithic domain of the rather few & privileged. So, we need to explore how our cooperative economic model translates in to the administration and management of cooperatives & social enterprises and their evolving culture.

  • “The marginalization & distance between individuals of lesser rank, or standing in society or organization will cause friction for many still expect power to be distributed unevenly and unequally – feeling disempowered to anything about it and change such reality.”Geert Hofstedes

I am thinking that what’s needed is to emphasize on one key salient point of such commercial cooperative endeavours; collective ownership. This must be underlined and cause for excitement when people are invited to join in! People must understand that no one individual is more powerful than the other, and that while a Board has some serious fiduciary responsibilities, they themselves are also accountable to the member-owners. The hierarchy is then operational-administrative; otherwise, all members are guided by the same principles and by-laws.

Our economic model inserts itself in the spirit of societies that value a more egalitarian worldview – I am thinking of a number of European countries, such as Scandinavia, Germany, Spain, France, Portugal, some provinces in Canada as well – to name just a few. Because cooperatives function generally speaking through a more horizontal structure of power where we value the fact that all have rights, freedoms and responsibilities – this is also in my view a key value for cooperatives and the economic cultural shift we wish to foster.

  • “Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.”Paulo Coelho

Leaders in such structures are fluid and constantly tuning in to their fellow-travellers, fellow-citizens, or in our case, members-owners. We need to ensure our growing membership, which is becoming very diverse in ethno cultural backgrounds, and interests get a good grip of these features. And; our managerial Team must pay close attention as to what members and users expect from their platform cooperative.

The closer we are to members-owners, the easiest will be to walk along them and fine-tune our platform. People also must understand they are the workers and the owners as well – they have something essential at stake. Managerial team, and of course, Board of Directors must develop its own intelligence and intercultural competencies which will enrich praxis all around its transformative work.

Another element of this pathway is our evolutionary journey, spiced by diversity & inclusion – we should turn these into our advantage particularly around opportunities for innovation; intercultural realities in our cooperative must be celebrated and we should all strive to adapt – notwithstanding the challenges, and perhaps because of it – to the fresh airs of new times, having diversity & inclusion as one of our engines for growth.

  • “The re-establishment of an ecological balance depends on the ability of society to counteract the progressive materialization of values. The ecological balance cannot be re-established unless we recognize again that only persons have ends and only persons can work towards them.”– Ivan Illich

We are trailblazing, exploring our collective intelligence, developing a healthy organizational emotional intelligence and tapping into our learnings to improve our processes and offerings. The economics of change implies that one of our critical challenges is how to move effectively and timely from a fragile financing position to one of strength and opportunities – the answer lies within and without. – LCA

About: Leo Campos A. is a Community Organizer|Cultural Worker + a Bilingual Social Marketing & Conscious Advertising Professional based in Edmonton (AB). He’s involved with an emerging cooperative social-enterprise platform project called Wayfinders Business Cooperative © please see:

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