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Just started thinking about cooperatives I'd like to start or have already tried to start IRL and it made me very sad. I've tried…

Bike Shop
DIY Garage
Coffee Shop
Wireless ISP
Hackerspace
Truck share
Bike share
Outdoor gear share
Land share
Community garden

With 0 success. I think the problem with community run organizations is that you have to already have a community, or have some way of reaching a large audience in your local area. How do you actually find people?

It probably doesn't help that I live in a very suburban area and the only way any of my neighbors communicate is with Facebook and the very idea of signing up for any social media again fills me with anxiety.

On the plus side, various platform/online-only co-ops I've tried to start are chugging along at the impossibly slow pace of most co-ops I've ever been a member of, so maybe one day they'll actually be functional. Just to continue the list, those are:

Instant Messaging
Code hosting
Tech freelancing / consulting
Various cooperative software projects

@sam People who start co-ops are “community people” who see a shared unmet need and maybe a business-based solution organize around meeting it. Mostly on a volunteer basis. People who organize “regular” platform businesses are friggin barracudas with very specialized management and/or technical skills who will just short of kill to meet their financial goals.

@beckett by platform I mean platform co-ops like social.coop, but yah, I'm with you in general. Sadly, I apparently have no idea how to do either.

@sam I think your call on the countervailing forces is on the mark.

@sam There is a reason new stuff often starts in cities. Density really helps finding a critical mass of an initially obscure idea.

Maybe that can change now with social media and the like. But if the coop idea is for a physical location, it will probably require first building a large local/regional network. Or find a digital coop idea.

On the plus side, co-ops are not just slow to start. (They have so many relationships to spell-out in contracts). They are also more conservative with financial risk, and less likely to fold in a crisis. For example, see reports on credit unions weathering the 2008 stock-market collapse. @sam #coop #finance

@sam I've been a part of my local hackerspace on and off for several years, and the biggest struggle has always been trying to find the people in the organization who were willing to listen and do something about it when they heard that something was fucked. And in a hackerspace, things were fucked *constantly*.

But I've watched a lot of these kinds of orgs fail because there was a central group who believed in Their Vision of the Core Value and got defensive when they heard contrary.

@sam But we've also showed up at a lot of events, worked with schools groups, hosted things, participated in contests no one gave a shit about but it got our name out, encouraged people to host classes, donated time and effort, helped people launch their businesses, made sure that there was always someone willing to have the door open on Friday night for open tours, and sometimes taken those people for a stern talking to about the fact that it's not great to call every grown ass woman "girls."

misogny, transphobia 

@sam It's meant getting in the face of people who say shitty things about trans folk, it's meant telling people that no one cares how they feel about furries, they're hosting a cosplay night on Tuesdays and you can ask them to stop awoo-ing because that is loud and distracting to people using power tools, but you can't ask them to stop talking about things that make you feel uncomfortable. It means kicking out the guy who's a great welding teacher but keeps cornering women.

@sam It's meant making the space available for groups that have absolutely no interest in any of the tools we have around, they just need a space to hold meetings, and theoretical learning is as good a reason to get together as practical learning.

... also several bomb-ass accountants who have volunteered thousands of hours of work to make sure the budget makes sense, jesus christ we would be wrecked without them.

@sashakovich Good point; just because you find people, doesn't make it a successful project and doesn't mean they'll be the right people. Gotta be willing to listen, talk to people, and maybe even let them go even if it means losing their technical ability or volunteer labor. I just can't conceive of how anyone finds enough people to run a good volunteer organization.

@sam @sashakovich not to be old fashioned, but a kiwanis or rotary club (or equivalent) often do a lot of the stuff people wish existed in their community. They're democratically managed community social and service groups - they just happen to be (usually) full of retirees, which makes them less sexy or daring, but are (or were) an important part of civic life for very good reasons.

@sam @sashakovich the fb only thing is a real issue though and it's getting worse. Find a decent community group, want to get involved ... they don't have a website, just a facebook page, and all announcements are made via instagram.

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