Write Cultural Fit

• Written by emdemh

A comic-book whizz, a web developer, a chiropractor, a film-maker, several curators and a grocery store co-op owner: What do these people have in common? Well, they are some of the busiest people on Loomio: and they belong to the Adobe Books and Arts Cooperative.

Loomio loves this group of people who have come together as a co-op to protect a well-loved community space, Adobe Books, in San Francisco’s Mission district. As Brett Lockspeiser explains,

“Adobe Books has been in San Francisco for 25 years. For 24 of those years it was a sole proprietorship, mostly run by Andrew McKinley, who owned the shop. Unfortunately, the business of selling his books has become harder and harder…combine that with San Francisco which is currently gentrifying at an obscene rate. In 16th Street of the Mission the rents were doubling”.

Through the 1990s, Andrew hosted many struggling artists and musicians, who could often be seen sleeping over on the couch at the gallery at the back of the shop. These couchsurfers are now some of San Francisco’s most influential artists. Brett continues the tale of the cooperative, explaining,

“The shop has this unique culture of community, which really I think all stems from the personality of Andrew, the kind of accepting person that he is. He has made Adobe Books a place where people always feel comfortable coming in, sitting down, and striking up a conversation with someone. So art and music and poetry can sort of just happen in a comfortable, good way”.

The wonderful Andrew McKinley. Image courtesy of Brett Lockspeiser.

It’s pretty obvious why Adobe’s community refused to give up the space to sky-rocketing rent! To save the shop, a group of people who loved it got together, looking to transform it into a cooperative enterprise. They started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, and raised enough money to keep the space alive, moving to a new venue on 1st July 2013… a few streets down on 24th Street. They now have 14 members in the co-op who run the shop together. Andrew is still the cultural centre, but is no longer taking on the financial and legal responsibilities alone – he’s sort of half-retired, but is still doing what he loves best: books.

Adobe love Loomio because:

  • They use it to keep everyone in the co-op up to date with important discussions and decisions
  • It stops their email inboxes getting clogged
  • According to Brett, the software is a “perfect cultural fit” for a co-op
  • They love our how-to videos
Adobe Books in its glory. Image from Adobe Books and Arts Cooperative Facebook page, courtesy of Brett Lockspeiser.

What would they like to see in the future?

Well, they would like to see Loomio become more open, so they can invite large numbers of people into a decision and get lots of different perspectives from the community weighing in. This is especially important because of their large community base – while the co-op workers run shop, they want the wider community to call the shots. We want to see this too!

What do you think, Loomions?

Interested to hear more about Adobe? Check out their website.

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