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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Inspirational Team Building with Simon O’Byrne | 08.24.2018

SIMON O’BYRNE on INSPIRATIONAL TEAM BUILDING | Friday August 24, 2018 | Time: 10:30 am. – 11:30 am. In conversation about Community Development Leadership & Inspirational Team Building. | Location: The Business Link, Suite #500, 10150-100 St. | Note: Admission is free, but a donation is welcomed. |

About: Simon is an award winning urban designer/planner and is Senior Vice President of Community Development in Canada for Stantec. Simon has led multi-disciplinary design teams in the planning/successful delivery of large, complex and politically charged projects. His experience ranges from the Downtown Arena & Entertainment District, to creating resiliency in Hull (UK) to redevelopment of the Alberta Legislature Grounds, to the Saskatoon City Centre Plan, Lower Athabasca Regional Plan, Alberta and Manitoba Capital Region Land Use Plans and the Hunts Point Plan, Bronx, New York. –

R.S.V.P. by August 22, to: |

Sponsored by: Wayfinders Business Cooperative ©


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ORG. EMOTIONAL INTEL > July 25, 2018.

ORGANIZATIONAL EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE | with guest-speaker Harvey Deutschendorf. July 25th, 2018 at Tiramisu Bistro, 10750 – 124th Street | Time: 7:00 pm. | Admission $5.00 at the door. | Getting smart people into your company/project is hard enough. Turning them into great collaborators & risk-takers even harder. Co-workers don’t just openly share feedback and challenge each other’s ideas. But what if we were to create a culture that encourages this? Join us and explore these issues. RSVP by July 24th 2018 to: | T: 780.474.6058. | ABOUT: Harvey Deutschendorf is an Emotional Intelligence expert, internationally published author and speaker. Emotional Intelligence transformed Harvey’s life; he invites you to revitalize your business, team leaders/employees. It is time to renew your organization.

SPONSORED by: Wayfinders Business Cooperative ©


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Building An Emotionally Intelligent Team

WORKPLACES | Building An Emotionally Intelligent Team | Getting smart people into your company is hard enough. Turning them all into great collaborators and risk-takers is even harder. Even on the most high-performing teams, coworkers don’t just openly share feedback and challenge each other’s ideas all on their own–managers need to create a culture that encourages this. And that usually requires building your team’s collective emotional intelligence. Here are a few straightforward (and entirely low-tech ways) to get started. – By Harvey Deutschendorf  © >

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By Kyle White | © Co-operatives First | Part 4The Classic AGM > A familiar, time-tested indicator of engagement in the co-op sector is the Annual General Meeting (AGM). Second tier co-ops (co-operative of co-operatives), like Federated Co-op Limited and Arctic Co-op Limited, typically have very high attendance ratios and can fill large meeting halls. By ratio, the member associations of these federations generally have a lower turnout at their AGMs. The Saskatoon Co-op Association, for example, had a very large group with over 400 attending this year’s AGM, but this is a small fraction of their over 100,000 members.

Smaller co-ops are much more likely to have more members engaged in the business and governance of the organization. For example, members of worker co-ops are highly motivated to stay active in the co-op as their livelihood is attached to the success of the organization. Similarly, individuals living in housing co-ops are much more likely stay involved and aware of the co-op’s operations as it directly affects their day-to-day lives. Co-ops operating in the retail space may not draw the same level of interest as people likely have other options and may not be as directly concerned if things are running smoothly. To further complicate things, membership engagement usually increases when there is a contentious issue being discussed or if there is perceived conflict affecting the organization. Resolutions of amalgamation and dissolution brought to the AGM are sure to attract large crowds. When things are going well, member apathy is much more likely as people tend to be content.

So, is AGM attendance a good measure of membership engagement? Yes, but the importance you give this measure should depend on its value for the organization. For a small worker-owned co-operative that brews beer, hopefully there’s a near 100% turnout to the AGM. For a consumer co-operative with tens of thousands of members, perhaps there’s a better measure of engagement, like sales, foot traffic, memberships sold, visits to a member-only forum on your website, or downloads of the Annual Report. –

© Co-operatives First |

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COOPERATIVES | Channels for Engagement …

By Kyle White |© Co-operatives First | Part 3Create Platforms and Channels for Engagement > The online stock photo retailer, Stocksy United has an online platform for their members. It fits because their members are around the globe (65+ countries, in fact) and the business operates online. Not everyone has this level of tech savviness or need for global reach. Finding the right platforms and channels for your organization is no less important, however.

Make sure there are a variety of platforms and channels for membership feedback. Create a rubric for prioritizing how this feedback is responded to. Maintain a clear display of interest and concern for the voices of individual members. Together, this will help keep a large and disparate membership engaged in the well-being of the business. For a consumer co-operative in the north delivering on this promise may include selling snowmobiles beside oranges. In the south, it may mean providing more local product at the expense of price competitiveness.

If you can Define it, you can Measure it > As we’ve seen, membership engagement can be difficult to define. This means it’s also hard to measure. Measuring membership engagement is key to understanding if your engagement strategy is working or not. So, getting both right matters. The number of volunteers, attendees at an annual meeting, investors in the business, and posts shared on Facebook can all be indicators of member engagement. The challenge for leadership is to understand if they’re performing well. Choosing the right indicators of member engagement can help with that.

Get to the Heart of the Matter > Whatever way you choose to measure engagement, make sure it gets to the heart of the business and what your membership values. If you have 10 members, perhaps it’s a monthly coffee row outing or beergarita Fridays. For those with large memberships, creating promotions or VIP email lists or social media groups to create discussion and push messaging could be a better solution.

Understanding how, when, and why to listen to members is a key challenge for boards and management of co-operatives. Be creative. But remember the tried and tested too. Sometimes the suggestion box is simply the right solution – just make sure you actually read and respond to the feedback. –

© Co-operatives First |

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COOPERATIVES | Organizational Engagement …

By Kyle White | May 09, 2018 © Co-operatives First

Part 2Organizational Engagement > In young or smaller co-operatives, organizational engagement is often taken for granted. In this case, there tends to be a core group of individuals dedicated to the co-op willing to put in the effort to ensure its success. Similarly, the reputation or brand is often handled in a fairly willy-nilly way and the personality of the organization’s brand reflects the core individuals involved.

Over time, this situation can create a free-rider problem and burnout within the core group, not to mention brand confusion in the marketplace once key members move on. Planning for the next generation of board members, customers, volunteers or workers is just as integral to the co-op’s survival as a good sales strategy or a case for support. For larger or older co-operatives, it’s is important to ensure the purpose of the business remains to deliver on a promise made to members. Membership engagement is a way of measuring and aligning operations, strategy, marketing and vision with membership feedback and requests without losing out to mission creep. Because, while you can’t please everyone, the point of a co-operative business is still to serve the membership and their interests.

Understand your Value Proposition > Co-ops need to plan for member engagement and ensure they are providing opportunities to engage in ways that make sense. The opportunity to engage in the decision making and ownership of the business, whatever that looks like, is a central component of the value co-ops offer their members. In fact, ownership and influence is often what sets co-operatives apart from its competitors. It’s probably why some folks shop at Co-op stores instead of Sobeys and it’s certainly part of the reason why workers at the London Brewing Co-op don’t apply for jobs at Molson. The key value proposition (the opportunity to own and shape a business, for example) needs to be articulated for members to maintain their organizational engagement. If this support is not maintained, members may lose sight of the co-op’s value and shift their financial and organizational engagement elsewhere. Understand and repeat the promise and value of the business to your membership – over time it will pay dividends. –

© Co-operatives First |

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