Thu 23 May 2019 11:27AM

How we organise Platform 6

MSC Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture) Public Seen by 73

A place to discuss how we organise ourselves, our membership, our various projects and our wider community of support.


Edward Carpenter Sun 9 Jun 2019 11:14AM

Simon, what is it you are looking to set up?


Simon Sun 9 Jun 2019 11:35AM

It's set up www.just.coop , but still I wasn't happy until this week .when I settled on separate domains per locality. Subdomains isn't working, so I purchased www.justtewkesbury.coop to start last week. For two years i have been working on this in isolation, not through choice.


Edward Carpenter Sun 9 Jun 2019 5:41PM

Simon, thanks for the links. I too am trying to scale up a place-buildimh I initiative and know only too well how hard it can be.

What help was it that you were looking for from the cooperative community that you did not get?


Simon Thu 13 Jun 2019 7:51AM

Hi Edward,
I've tried typing something in answer to your question a few times now. Let's keep it short & simply say that whatever help I may have needed, it's just as well that I have been able to manage without it.


Graham Sat 15 Jun 2019 2:17PM

Thanks Simon. Part of my personal rationale for starting Platform 6 is to try to provide a new way for projects like yours to make themselves known to the wider cooperative ecosystem and also to democratise and widen the whole process of providing assistance and support for new projects and start-ups.

I've only got a partial view of what is happening, based partly on my own history. My first co-op startup, back in 1988, was lucky in that we happened to be in Southampton, and at that point the City Council there was sufficiently enlightened to have a funded Co-operative Development Agency with Chris Funnell (now a Co-op Assistance Network member) running the shop. Chris provided us with excellent advice and support, and we started our worker co-op, which went on to provide decent work for people for many years. Some towns and cities still have local co-op development/support facilities like this today, although they are really very few in number. I'm hopeful that the current emphasis on community wealth building will see more local authorities invest in these services, and I hope that online platforms such as what I envisage for Platform 6 can supplement this and enable anyone, regardless of their location, to access good quality advice, information and support.

On the supply side I understand that there are really not many professionals working in the field of cooperative development. I use the term 'professionals' to mean people that not only have valuable experience, but who have also taken the time and trouble to develop and broaden their expertise and gain relevant accreditation such that they can earn all or part of their living by providing advice, support and development services. The low number is probably largely due to the lack of funding available to do the work. So we need to bring more funding into the sector to enable more people to consider earning a living helping co-ops to get started. But we have a Catch-22 because the funding is hard to come by because the apparent demand is low, and the apparent demand is low because there are so few people doing the work on the ground to grow awareness and build demand.

All of this is of course in the broader context where the "cooperative movement" spends lots of its time telling everyone how massive it is. So how can this sector of the economy be both massive and barely visible (less than 200 new cooperatives registered in the UK in 2018) at one and the same time?

The vast, overwhelming majority of the people who are part of the co-operative economy - members of the Co-op Group and other major retail societies - don't see themselves as being part of the co-operative movement. As a movement we've chosen largely to believe our own hype. In reality, I think that the people in the UK who are actively working to grow the co-operative economy, with a sense of vision about creating a better more just society and an economy that works for people and planet, number probably less than 2000, with a good number of those people operating outside what we might consider to be the "co-operative movement". The big co-op organisations have over the decades largely neglected their responsibilities as defined by the seven principles, especially the fifth principle about education, and this has led to these organisations being largely (although not exclusively) captured by their management. Indeed we have the current irony whereby a large part of co-operative development work is funded by the Co-operative Bank, which is of course not a co-operative at all, or even owned by a co-operative.

So we face a real challenge if we want to effectively support start-ups like yours, and many many more - which we'll need to if we are serious about the much discussed aims of doubling the size of the cooperative economy. I hope that through Platform 6, as just one initiative, we can have clear-eyed conversations about our ambition, our ability to deliver, the challenges we face, and develop some fresh thinking and innovative approaches to move us forward more effectively.


Simon Sat 15 Jun 2019 3:48PM

Thanks Graham. I really do appreciate your comprehensive response. To be honest, many times over the last two years, just a bit of moral support was perhaps all I needed, an unexpected email, or phone call, simply to ask, 'how's it going?'.

Anyway, it's all positive now, & I am ready for some serious support, in the form of how to recruit nationally?. Where does one look for people with good communication skills who want an opportunity which is entirely purpose driven?. The aim is to build a network of intentional communities, hollowed out from within the capitalist hegemony.

If Platform 6 could help with that, I do believe Just Cooperate has the potential to pour money back into your wider ambitions. I'd like that.

One way or another we must promote the cooperative approach to business that has never been more needed. It's also true that never has society been more ready, without even realising it, for a radical approach to how we organise ourselves to meet needs beyond the profit motive.


Graham Sun 16 Jun 2019 10:29AM

As posted earlier in this same thread (https://www.loomio.org/d/iJGF6sNB/how-we-organise-platform-6/18) I do think that Platform 6 can play a role in making projects like yours more visible, and help project initiators to establish and grow their crowd (of cooperators, supporters, investors, customers etc.). I've started work already on thinking how we can begin to do that, and I hope that you - and others - will be able to collaborate on that.


Leo Sammallahti Fri 31 May 2019 2:27AM

1) How do our members get more involved?
* The Progressive Coders network has a call with every member who joins, with 2 directors present in the call asking about what sort of projects the person is involved and would like to get involved with. This would allow us to match P6 members and coops (coop needs video editing, theres two p6 members who have told they know video editing). The onboarding talk could also be done in Loomio comment section - whichever the member prefers.

2) How do we generate new projects/opportunities?
* Asking all existing P6 members about coops that could use help could be helpful for us to find new projects and opportunities.
* We could even email through platform coops with introducing ourselves and asking if theres anything we could do to help them. We shouldnt overpromise more involvement that we can provide, but having a broad range of activities our members could engage with is something that we can harness into more engagement.
* I have a buffet of existing projects and new ideas for Platform6 to choose from that I will be posting about during the next two weeks.

3) How do we co-ordinate our activity?
* The lack of possible activities to participate is currently low (as is understandable for a project as new as this). Having a more detailed look at members skills and interests alongside more different activities to participate in, we can coordinate our activities by matching members and projects.

4) How do we better communicate our Mission(s)?
* There are many online publications we could tell about ourselves - Progressive Coders blog, The Peoples News, The Open Collective blog, Internet Of Ownership and platform cooperative email list are 5 channels in which we could inform about ourselves.

5) What do members of P6 want to get from P6?
A coop that connects people that want to get collaborate with coops to coops that want people to get collaborate with them.


Graham Fri 31 May 2019 8:53AM

Excellent response @leosammallahti - thank you.


Leo Sammallahti Sat 8 Jun 2019 5:03AM

After mapping:
- What skills are needed (video editing, setting up a Mastodon instance, setting up a self-hosted Loomio, speaking Italian, etc.)
- What skills members have that they have told us they can help out with.

We could build some sort of a two-sided platform - one to look for coops to participate in based on your skills, and one to look for people to participate in your coop based on their skills.

Many credit unions in the UK are actively looking for volunteers - this platform could grow as large as to include co-op volunteering "gigs" around the world, similar to what the DemocraticJobs is for worker owned coop jobs and Co-op Crowdfunding Monitor is for donating to coops.

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