Wed 23 Feb 2022 12:47PM

Cooperative Ways Forward 2022

G Graham Public Seen by 107

We're planning to re-invigorate the Ways Forward event brand by running at least one event during 2022 (perhaps more). People may well have participated in one of the pre-pandemic Ways Forward conferences. Let's use this thread to hold suggestions, thoughts, issues about Ways Forward 2022. What would you like to see happen? Who can we usefully partner with to help develop a valuable event? Who is interested in sponsoring an event? Who might help with the legwork of making it happen?


Graham Fri 9 Sep 2022 4:15PM

Very sorry to hear that @bob cannell - I hope your athletics goes well. Please spread the word about CWF22.


Graham Fri 9 Sep 2022 4:14PM

Thx @Gareth - that issue is now fixed. I had an incorrect expiration date attached to that field. Please try again.


Graham Fri 9 Sep 2022 4:13PM

Thx @Gareth - minor technical hitch. Now fixed.


bob cannell Fri 9 Sep 2022 3:35PM

Sadly I am pre booked supporting an athlete with a disability. He can't compete without me so I will have to miss CWF22. Very hacked off.Hope it goes so well I can come to CWF23.


Gareth Fri 9 Sep 2022 1:53PM

Hi @Molly Newhouse I've just tried to book on for the event, but am only being shown an option for the Thursday evening... Is there an issue with the form or am I doing something wrong?


Graham Wed 24 Aug 2022 9:15AM

Thanks Gareth, that's really helpful.


Gareth Wed 24 Aug 2022 8:45AM

I'll add an event listing to the CUK events page.


Molly Newhouse Tue 23 Aug 2022 4:35PM

Have you bought your tickets yet??? Early bird is open now: CiviCRM | Ways Forward 2022


Graham Tue 26 Jul 2022 6:59PM

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/26/there-is-an-alternative-to-disruptive-climate-protest interesting piece. Possible targets mentioned here for people and orgs to reach out as possible participants/ sponsors etc


Molly Newhouse Thu 23 Jun 2022 2:53PM

On Monday (27th) at 5pm, we will be having a meeting about what content we would like to be included in the Ways Forward conference. All welcome! We will meet here: Platform 6 Development Cooperative (meet.coop)


Mothiur Rahman Tue 7 Jun 2022 4:49PM

👌 Cooperative Intelligence: If you have time we would love a few minutes of your time to answer 2 quick questions on narrowing WF22 Title Options and Conference themes 👌



Mothiur Rahman Tue 7 Jun 2022 4:47PM

Ways Forward Conference is back with WF22!

🎉SAVE THE DATE: 20-21 OCTOBER 2022 (Thurs/Fri)🎉

 General theme: CO-OPERATING AND CLIMATE JUSTICE in a Climate & Ecological Emergency (CEE)


Martin Meteyard Thu 2 Jun 2022 1:00PM

@Ian Hewitt has attended some meetings, as has @Alex Bird at least once (though I think that was mainly about union:coops). Also @John Goodman has given apologies on at least a couple of occasions. More ageing white men!


Graham Thu 2 Jun 2022 9:48AM

I would hope that @Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) may be willing. Who else? @Martin Strube ?


Molly Newhouse Thu 2 Jun 2022 9:15AM

Just to clarify, the steering group currently is:

  • Graham

  • Martin

  • Cath

  • Matt

With me and Mothiur as the project managers.

Is there anyone else who wants to be on the steering group? (would involve coming to fortnightly meetings and receiving emails between this with ideas, as well as doing some of the legwork to organise the actual event!) please just comment here or email me at [email protected]


Martin Meteyard Thu 2 Jun 2022 12:53PM

I thought we already knew that and accepted that the event (without alcohol) would probably run there till about 9pm and then people could go to the pub - indeed perhaps nominating one where people could gather. We've held WF Thursday evening events there at least a couple of times before on that basis (one with Angela Rayner as a local MP when she was Labour Party education spokesperson) which seemed to go off OK.


Graham Thu 2 Jun 2022 10:22AM

Looking at the paperwork it appears that it's a no-alcohol venue. Not saying that's a show stopper, but it needs to be taken into consideration.


Molly Newhouse Thu 2 Jun 2022 9:10AM

Mothiur and I are going to pursue the possibility of having the same venue for the thursday social too!


matt wilson Mon 23 May 2022 6:50PM

happy to look into that if people think it’s worth it? i guess at this
stage we should be asking whether a bad option is better than no option
…? and/or should we be going back to square one and trying 8th day
followed by a pub?

All it takes
for evil to flourish
is for good people
to fund it.


We could also investigate Bridge 5 Mill in Ancoats, although it's a bit of a trek


Graham Mon 23 May 2022 3:51PM

Thanks for your efforts anyway @matt wilson


matt wilson Mon 23 May 2022 2:49PM

after lots of requests for more info and lots of waiting, Partisan have now just told me they don’t have capacity for an evening event. slightly annoyed it took so long for them to realise that!

anyway, that leaves us without a venue for the thursday evening (the people’s history museum was far too expensive and would require hiring security if we wanted to go past half eight). i’m out of options but happy to

pursue any other venues that people can think of.


Molly Newhouse Sun 22 May 2022 4:17PM

For the meeting tomorrow at 5pm:

Topic: Ways Forward Planning Call

Time: May 23, 2022 05:00 PM London


Join Zoom Meeting



Meeting ID: 844 034 4342

Passcode: harbour


Graham Fri 20 May 2022 11:00AM

I know we talked about running the event on the later date option in October, but on checking 24-28 Oct looks to be pretty widespread as the half term week, and so lots of people will be using that week for other things. Consequently I feel that we should be aiming for the earlier option.


Molly Newhouse Mon 16 May 2022 2:45PM

Me and Mothiur have planned for the next steering group meeting to be Monday the 23rd (next Monday) at 5pm - please come along if you can. I've made an agenda here: 220523 Steering Group Meeting.docx - Platform 6 feel free to add anything you want to discuss at the bottom, and we will get to it if we have time!

Link will be circulated later when I have access to meet.coop !


Ian Hewitt Wed 18 May 2022 12:31PM

My sense of Civic Societies are that they are pillars of the establishment and tend to be rather Conservative. Co-ops EM has never had any relationship with Civic Societies in the Region. Civic Societies may well be represented on local Economic Development bodies. Since 2010 the LEPs have been the focus. We have found it challenging to relate to LEPs - although the CEO of the Lincoln Society has been the chair of the Lincs LEP and they appear to have been beneficiaries.


Mothiur Rahman Mon 16 May 2022 12:28PM

Hi does anyone know the relationship between Cooperative Development Organisations and Civic Societies? The latter are looking to get very involved in the Levelling Up legislative agenda and wondering how closely they work with Coops/local Economic Development organiations?

There is a webinar they are doing in 2 days to introduce their ideas, anyone here going to join?



Martin Meteyard Mon 16 May 2022 3:16PM

I have added in a list of potential sponsors, most from the 2019 conference plus a few other suggestions. Also uploaded the budget info from 2019 and minutes of a debrief held after the conference.


Molly Newhouse Mon 16 May 2022 10:53AM

Hello all, I have started a Nextcloud document where we can all put ideas for grants and sponsorships and who is dealing with each one so we can help keep track. The first sheet is for grants and the second for sponsorships, which you can switch between using the little tabs at the bottom. You can find it here: Grant or Sponsorship Applications.xlsx - Platform 6

(You will need a Platform 6 Nextcloud account to access this file, so if you don't have one please ask Graham to set you up with one!)


matt wilson Fri 13 May 2022 5:10PM

sorry i missed thge meeting - in the middle of moving house.

still no word from Partisan - I asked last week for an answer by yesterday but not heard anything.


Martin Meteyard Mon 16 May 2022 12:31PM

His course is basically around his speciaality of platform co-ops, see https://courses.newschool.edu/courses/NURP5105


Mothiur Rahman Mon 16 May 2022 10:09AM

How similar is the idea to Trebor's conference, is it the same or slightly different?


Martin Meteyard Fri 13 May 2022 3:47PM

Just came across what I think could be a great title for the conference (nicked from a course to be run by Trebor Scholz/The New School NYC): 'Co-operate to Own the Future'. With perhaps a strapline 'Solutions in a Time of Climate Crisis'?


Graham Thu 12 May 2022 2:37PM

outline budget is here: https://cloud.platform6.coop/s/iSQj3RFmEEtc4kH

Draft agenda for the call is:

1.  Funding needs 

There seemed to be a bit of difference between how Molly and I understood the situation around this so that needs clarifying re:

- what is already available for funding our roles separate from raising for the Project.

2.  Steering Group

- who, role/accountability, regular meetings

3.  Date

- deciding on which weekend in October

- start/end times

4. Venue

- Capacity/Rooms/facilities

5. Budget

- if what has been done so far could be circulated in advance that would be great (understand £20k has been budgeted). 

6.  Early deliverables

- Consultation 

- Draft Timetable

- Draft Timelines/Gant Chart (identify gaps)

7. Sponsorship

    - existing relationships

    - new relationships 

8. Website & email & Meeting

- Meet.coop - access codes

- Website - access codes

- Email - agreed, a general email that we can both access would be good 


Graham Wed 11 May 2022 12:13PM

Update re: tomorrow's call to progress our planning for Ways Forward 2022. We're going to start a little earlier - at 3.45pm. I hope many of you can get along. We'll be at https://de.meet.coop/gra-cpf-owy-a9s as usual. If you can't get along, please do share your thoughts, ideas, concerns here.


Mothiur Rahman Sat 7 May 2022 8:27PM

Hi everyone - after having gone through the chat, below seem to be the comments that help centre some of the issues/concerns that people have here. If there are others/have missed any let me know 👍

  •  I'd really like to see a focus on big strategic/political questions; my feeling is lots of us know there's a lack of this level of engagement, but that we always push it back in favour of topics/themes which seem more immediate and tangible.

  • positioning the identity of the event as having a social transformation agenda.

  •  "We need to consider why our ‘good news’ is not spreading. Why do harmful or distracting ideologies (xenophobia , personal salvation) have such traction they reproduce with little effort. But our ideas, economic democracy, don’t. ..The "cooperative movement" (such as it is - I don't think it's a helpful label) is pretty good at operating in it's bubble and talking to itself."

  • "lots of people are actively engaged in cooperation, through local mutual aid initiatives, community organisations involved in housing, land, food, community wealth building, business initiatives (Zebras, B-corps, impact organisations, etc.), climate initiatives, and a host of other things. They very often don't see their activity as explicitly cooperative and they don't see the organisations they are part of as cooperatives per se, because that's not their focus. 

  •  'cooperation is the glue that brings these diverse social movements together'. And he's right. But glue isn't very interesting - certainly not as interesting as climate change or permaculture or housing or whatever it is that people who are already engaged in progressive social action are focussing on.

  • Political relevance of coop movement:  "For people on low incomes we are white middle class hobbyists playing at rural pubs or village shops, a million miles from being relevant to the day to day survival challenges they are facing. For affluent types (other than those engaging in the hobbyist approach noted above) unless they are big 'P' politically motivated we are utterly invisible. And even for those who are on the left, the knowledge levels about cooperatives and cooperation, beyond some vague historical awareness of Rochdale, are largely non-existent."

  • I think that Ways Forward 2022 is an opportunity to open a conversation with at least some of these adjacent social movements to learn what we need to do to help them to be more successful.

    •  [Mothiur: I have given talks about the need for "Economic Suffrage" to be as loud and passionate as that of "Political Suffrage" (which came out of a conversation with Pat Conaty who made me aware about the connections of the cooperative economy with the ideas of JS Mill)]

  • AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire Action) shows how poorly we are doing at each stage. Very little awareness, less interest leading to low desire and minimal action. We need to look at the movement from the pov of a young person actively looking for alternatives to their current hopeless lifestyle. Are we relevant? 


Martin Meteyard Thu 5 May 2022 5:38PM

There is a Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/964129340273806. But no-one's used it for a purpose for a very long time, and recent postings are a very mixed bag (e.g. Green Party of New York).


Graham Thu 5 May 2022 5:16PM

Brilliant stuff!. I don't know if either of you use Twitter but Ways Forward is there as @CoopWaysForward - I don't think we've done much more on social media - probably something on Facebook?


Mothiur Rahman Thu 5 May 2022 5:09PM

Thanks @Graham for the introduction. I've just finished the Barefoot 2.0 Programme which I found really valuable - thanks to @Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) @Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) and @Andrew Woodcock for their design and delivery of the course:)

Its left me fired up to keep the momentum going behind the learning in someway, so supporting the Ways Forward 22 Conference seemed like a great opportunity for mutual supporting. I read through the discussion above before getting in touch with Graham, many of the issues raised seemed to be ones I feel connected with so look forward to creating space for those discussions to move into solution-focused planning/organising/delivering:)

There is a little about me and my interests in the links below. I am interested in bringing the cooperative communities to other communities where cooperating is their normal habit - such as the diasporic communities that I grew up in where without cooperating it becomes difficult to make ends meet (Beeston in Leeds if anyone knows it although I now live in Totnes in Devon). I've recently just been successful in getting funding to co-develop "coliberatory municipalist" learning modules with the young adults of Butetown in Cardiff (one of the most diverse communities in the UK) to develop their employability skills and looking forward to creating bridges across with the cooperating communities:)





Mothiur Rahman Thu 5 May 2022 5:13PM

Hi @Molly Newhouse good to e-meet:) Nice work with the ramp. Need similar metaphorical ramps across the economy to level out resources to where its needed:) Shall we make a time to meet up and have a chat? My email address is [email protected]


Molly Newhouse Thu 5 May 2022 4:56PM

Hello all! I'm Molly from Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative and Students for Co-operation. I started project managing with construction projects (both in a co-op and outside) and am wanting to branch out and combine my love of co-ops with my project management skills. I have led on the project management of the last two Students for Co-operation conferences and have just finished my Masters where I researched informal gender hierarchies within structurally non-hierarchical housing co-operatives. I'm excited to get involved and build connections with other co-operators!

^Here is me building a ramp to make Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative wheelchair accessible.


Graham Thu 5 May 2022 4:26PM

In other news I've taken the law into my own hands in order to move things on, and I asked @Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) and @Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) if they would be so kind as to share a notice about the conference amongst the Barefoot group to see if there was anyone there who might be interested in doing the work to make the conference happen. I got two responses in fairly short order, both of whom have since joined this space. So please extend a welcome to @Mothiur Rahman and @Molly Newhouse who will no doubt introduce themselves. They come at this project from different perspectives and bring a lot of interesting ideas and experience to the table. I've had the pleasure of talking to both of them in the last couple of days, and although they are yet to meet each other, I am hopeful that they will agree to work together, and with Platform 6 and the emergent steering group to make this conference a wild success. Onwards!


Kate Whittle Fri 6 May 2022 10:17AM

I'm on holiday from now till 20th May, so again, sorry, can't make it. But reading the posts on this thread looks like you're getting some excellent participation, should get great results!


bob cannell Thu 5 May 2022 6:46PM

I'm away soz


Graham Thu 5 May 2022 4:20PM

In terms of a next call for the emergent steering group to move the project forward, how does Thursday 12th May sound? I'm looking at perhaps 90 minutes starting at 4pm. At https://de.meet.coop/gra-cpf-owy-a9s. Please let me know if this is problematic - we can't please all the people all the time, but hopefully enough will be able get along to this.


bob cannell Thu 5 May 2022 7:03PM

Completely agree and hope you make more real progress than I managed. The culture 'they' shared was so different to 'our' solidarity cooperative culture. Even the Permaculture and Transition Town groups were strongly hierarchical, tho in a very nice way. Individual founders owned them. Almost no democracy. They viewed us with suspicion, as aliens only interested in economic business because we exist in a commercial world gaining income from trade and they spend grants, donations, get contracts, source funding etc. Charities 2.0. Certainly not independent, autonomous and collective self help by the people. There were community projects which were more or less cooperative but these suffered from ignorance of the principles of cooperative governance and I ended up in two instances helping 'the people' regain control of their community benefit society and their CIC from self serving cliques.
Maybe revive the old idea of finding the coops who don't know they are coops and helping them use the coop advantage (as we did with the Wine Society many years ago).


Graham Thu 5 May 2022 4:17PM

Interesting. I didn't go to the first one, but did go to what I think was the second one, in Stoke on Trent. By and large it seemed well organised, and while there were occasions when some people didn't know when to be quiet, I found it a positive event. What it promised was the beginning of a drive towards great inter-org and inter-network collaboration, but I don't think that much of that materialised - probably because lack of money. In recent days I've had a conversation with one of the team that is still actively involved in CTRLshift and the Transition Together activity, and we agreed on lots o stuff about the need to radically ramp up the level of cooperation so I'm hopeful of more progress and more pace from here on. Our active engagement in those adjacent networks and activities is really important in my view if we want to make progress.


bob cannell Fri 29 Apr 2022 4:03PM

I was heavily involved in the first CTRLshift gathering. It was enjoyable as an experience but many of the activists were only involbed because it was a platform to promote their pet obsession which gave them personal status. There was little understanding of democratic governance or cooperative/collective organisation (because there was little in their organisations ruled by dominant individuals). It became very frustrating. The egos were not controlled. Individuals dominated the space whether or not the group wanted them to or not.

The best bits were where individual contacts and networking occurred when people met each other and realised they could.help.each other. It was noticeable that the few cooperative activists present actually knew how to make concrete things happen in contrast to just talking about nicer ways the world.cpuld be.

I agree there was a phobia about anything political and suspicion about the Labour leaning coop movement as they saw it, part of the establishment.

I dibbed out after.the first one.


Graham Thu 28 Apr 2022 5:54PM

EDIT: There will NOT be a 1 hour catch-up call for Ways Forward at 2pm Friday 29th. Just been reminded that many people are doing the worker coop weekend gig in Devon so won't be around. We'll re-sechedule for next week. Watch this space...


Graham Thu 28 Apr 2022 1:45PM

My bad - I had omitted to publish the page. Should be live now. Thx for flagging this up.


Martin Meteyard Thu 28 Apr 2022 1:15PM

This form appears to require a login with password - can that be changed?


Graham Wed 27 Apr 2022 9:57AM

I've created a simple form at https://platform6.coop/add-potential-sponsor-partner that can be used to suggest the names of organisations and points of contact for potential sponsors and/or partner organisations that you feel we should be reaching out to to maximise the impact and effectiveness of the Ways Forward conference, and what flows into and from it. The data gets captured directly into our (Platform 6) CRM system. Providing data about named individuals is purely for business purposes of contacting them with respect to the named organisation.


Graham Wed 27 Apr 2022 8:55AM

Thanks Ian. This is precisely the sort of adjacent group/movement that we should be working with.


Ian Hewitt Wed 27 Apr 2022 8:46AM

Here's a link to the most recent communication from the COP26 Coalition to get a sense as to where they are at. Note that the plan is to transition to become the Climate Justice Coalition - it might be an idea to use Climate Justice in the title of the forthcoming Ways Forward Conference? https://cop26coalition.org/what-next/


Martin Meteyard Thu 28 Apr 2022 1:37PM

Good shout about the COP26 Coalition Ian, but I think we need to move on (and away) from developments in the Co-op Group. Also you can sign up to get regular emails from Loomio about any new postings so you don't fall out of the loop - @Graham can probably advise on how to do this.


Ian Hewitt Wed 27 Apr 2022 6:53AM

Apologies for my absence - had expected an email, not using Loomio very often these days.

i) in terms of outreach could I suggest the COP26 Coalition - they are having a national meeting by zoom on 4 May and working to develop a set of regional hubs

Ii) there may be another great crisis in the Co-op Group to deal with - £920 Million debt pile my trigger a melt down with ramifications across the co-op institutions - especially the Co-op Party? This should be acknowledged in some way as it was the basis of Ways Forward at the time of the last meltdown.

Hope this makes some sense.



matt wilson Tue 26 Apr 2022 1:40PM

sorry - partisan is the space we're hoping to use for the thursday night social.

And yeah, completely agree with your motivations for reaching out. my experience is transition is extremely closed to engaging with anything which might prod, let lone burst, its post-political bubble. in many ways, i think the basic/underlying premise of transition is in fact very aligned with ways forward - certainly with my own politics. it's where they take that premise which makes it very hard to engage, because they refuse to connect with people/ideas/movements which challenge their deeply ideological view that they are non-ideological/non-political. the Blairites of the green movement, basically.

But!! - not everyone involved will have that view, and i think it would be amazing if we could reach those people and encourage them to connect. (maybe they'd one day even have a coup and get rid of Hopkins!!). so good luck - and keep us all informed...


Graham Tue 26 Apr 2022 12:23PM

I think the point about reaching out to adjacent initiatives/movements is precisely that we may not feel totally aligned, but that there is enough common ground to build the collaboration. Great news re: LU support - I'd not factored that in to my numbers previously. which makes our sponsorship target more achievable.


Graham Tue 26 Apr 2022 12:19PM



matt wilson Tue 26 Apr 2022 12:02PM

Not much of a fan of Transition, but very keen to hear how your chat goes - and would love to see some more productive dialogue between Transition folk and others (though one of the reasons I don't like them is they're generally allergic to self-reflection/critical analysis).

In other news - looking good for Partisan, but awaiting confirmation. Will post again once I get a final yes. or no.

And there's a very good chance we can get £1,500.00 quid for the event from the Loughborough project. Again, will let folk know as soon as that's guaranteed. (if it isn't that much, we'll certainly get some money for it).


Graham Mon 25 Apr 2022 12:55PM

They are running this series of events online in May: https://transitiontogether.org.uk/events/summit2022/


Graham Mon 25 Apr 2022 12:26PM

In pursuit of the broad thrust that my comments in this thread set out, I've made contact with the folks at Transition together and CTRLshift, suggesting that Ways Forward is very keen to be part of that broader movement and lend our weight to help push that agenda of a just transition and solidarity economy. I have a call lined up with them in a week or so. I think this is a very positive step.


Martin Meteyard Thu 21 Apr 2022 7:07PM

I agree. It might be more productive to focus on those co-operative values which have (to my mind at least) an emotional heft - democracy, equality, solidarity - plus add in @matt wilson's suggestion of mutual aid. I can envisage a conference flyer with a graphic based around these.


Graham Thu 21 Apr 2022 12:47PM

It is a choice. Many/most aren't even aware that there is a choice - competition as you say is the dominant and default setting pretty much everywhere. Nevertheless people do frequently cooperate in their day to day lives. Our problem in the "cooperative movement" bubble is that we don't recognise this because they aren't doing that cooperation within the framework of a recognised co-op (something that our bubble is obsessed about). Fact: the overwhelming majority of cooperation goes on outside of the formal cooperative movement. Over generations we have failed to recognise this. My contention is therefore that we don't need to relight the fire of cooperation - it is burning quite well without us. Just that it is in another room. We need to climb out of our silo and re-connect with where the action is.


bob cannell Thu 21 Apr 2022 12:20PM

Cooperation or competition, us or me. The choice we all make all of our lives in everything we do. A healthy balance.

Competition and me, me, me has been the dominant for 50 years. But cooperation is just as attractive. Should be more attractive to normal people.

This choice is emotional but we rationalise and fail to connect. So what do we need to do to relight the fire of cooperation, and redress the balance?


Norman Thu 21 Apr 2022 12:33PM

I recently read that Dawkins regrets the "Selfish Gene" motif being abused to justify Thatcherism. He feels that it put off many potential readers, and downplayed the point about the role of co-operation in evolution.


Peter Harris Thu 21 Apr 2022 7:27AM

Really love reading the conversation @bob cannell + @Graham -- been subconsciously obsessed with these questions for years now, so it was a breath of fresh air to read this today.

I would consider Resonate as an interesting case study, simply because we've heard from SO MANY through the years that were blown away by the idea of co-owning a platform. Many even saying that Resonate was the first time they'd heard of co-operatives. But what drives the actual interest? A deep desire to treat artists ethically. In other words, they didn't end up at Resonate because of a desire to join a co-op -- they landed there because of their desire for economic and social justice for artists, who they've been hearing for years and years have been losing out in the digital economy.

Can imagine it would be quite hard to replicate this in other areas, because the level of understanding of exploitation just isn't deep enough elsewhere. Definitely exists in things like food -- "I buy organic to not poison workers, planet and myself" or "I bought a fairphone so that slaves aren't mining the heavy metals for my phone" but is those are still pretty niche and is there even a meaningful equivalent with workers? Hmm... maybe certain people don't buy from amazon in order to not exploit their workforce, but that's a drop in the bucket.

Personally I'm doubtful that we can break through the "fog of every day malaise" that infects most. But we definitely CAN build laterally. Zebras, B-corps, impact organisations as Graham mentioned. Mutual aid, activism... those communities are already fully there or at least half way. Think this speaks to recognizing cooperation in all its forms, rather than strictly "worker owned + controlled enterprises".

To get to Bob's point about finding alternatives... evangelism, xenophobia and the like often activate primal reptilian survival mechanisms, so I'd doubt we'd have luck there. I've long wondered if re-framing Darwin is the trick. We've all been brainwashed by this 'survival of the fittest' hogwash when the natural world exists in glorious equilibrium through COOPERATION. Can imagine endless memes on that topic, but it's a long term, indirect approach. At the end of the day, this all seems to filter back to a general problem with consciousness and the structure of society/reality. Not a small challenge...


Norman Thu 21 Apr 2022 12:30PM

I once led a really rewarding discussion at our Humanist Group in Cambridge entitled "Living by Secular Values" using the Co-operative V&P as source material. (Cf Bob's point about Evengelical techniques above.) When I was in Ireland I was really gobsmacked by national generic advertising for Credit Unions. Two-thirds of the population are members! The flipside is that other forms of co-operative are really disfavoured and obstructed by public bodies. For instance wind and hydro-electric power are opposed by the Nimbys, because they are solely based on an outsider investment model. Yet no other models are permitted by public bodies. I would say we tend to assume that co-operation is a no-brainer, we don't really grasp the extent to which some vested interests will see the Earth burned to a cinder before they will co-operate.


Graham Thu 21 Apr 2022 10:29AM

All good points @Norman - thanks. In response I'd say we do need to look at the movement through a different lens. Those of us inside this bubble tend to suffer under the illusion that there is a cooperative movement. I've done it myself. In practice I don't think that is particularly helpful, as noted earlier. Probably far more useful to see ourselves as a small part of something much larger and more relevant to the current challenges, and see what we do as providers of useful infrastructure or tooling. We have a tendency to say "the answer is a cooperative, what's the question?" where perhaps we should be listening a lot more, and providing the tools and infrastructure to enable people to enter into cooperation. I think this is a subtle but important distinction. (Hat tip to Dorothy Francis at Leicester CDA for the phrase).

In a nutshell, stop talking about cooperatives and start listening, and providing pathways into cooperation.


Norman Thu 21 Apr 2022 9:52AM

We could do worse than borrow tools from Marketing. AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire Action) shows how poorly we are doing at each stage. Very little awareness, less interest leading to low desire and minimal action. We need to look at the movement from the pov of a young person actively looking for alternatives to their current hopeless lifestyle. Are we relevant? Even if they get to desire, what options for action are there? Housing and worker co-operatives should be in the toolbox of every young activist. I am seriously worried at the way that nationalisation is coming back into vogue as a political option when eg utilities (water, fuel, telecomms) are a perfect vehicle for co-operative approaches.

We are also very poor at replication. Apart from the community shops and community pub movement there are few examples of an initial idea being replicated.


Graham Wed 20 Apr 2022 2:34PM

A few comments in response: Our "good news" barely exists. Very few people or organisations are actively marketing cooperation. A few more are promoting ideas around cooperatives (this is a different thing), but this is only really presented in a way that is relevant to a tiny minority of people who in large part probably already know about it. The largest and most influential cooperative organisation in the UK has spent the last 10 years or so failing as a cooperative (not a good advert). The "cooperative movement" (such as it is - I don't think it's a helpful label) is pretty good at operating in it's bubble and talking to itself.

On the other side of the coin lots of people are actively engaged in cooperation, through local mutual aid initiatives, community organisations involved in housing, land, food, community wealth building, business initiatives (Zebras, B-corps, impact organisations, etc.), climate initiatives, and a host of other things. They very often don't see their activity as explicitly cooperative and they don't see the organisations they are part of as cooperatives per se, because that's not their focus.

Martin said in a recent call something like 'cooperation is the glue that brings these diverse social movements together'. And he's right. But glue isn't very interesting - certainly not as interesting as climate change or permaculture or housing or whatever it is that people who are already engaged in progressive social action are focussing on.

For other people - those who aren't engaged (and this is probably the overwhelming majority) we have very little to offer on the face of it (of course we'd say the opposite). For people on low incomes we are white middle class hobbyists playing at rural pubs or village shops, a million miles from being relevant to the day to day survival challenges they are facing. For affluent types (other than those engaging in the hobbyist approach noted above) unless they are big 'P' politically motivated we are utterly invisible. And even for those who are on the left, the knowledge levels about cooperatives and cooperation, beyond some vague historical awareness of Rochdale, are largely non-existent.

I don't know what agitation activity you've been involved in Bob, but I agree that if it's not working, please stop.

I think that Ways Forward 2022 is an opportunity to open a conversation with at least some of these adjacent social movements to learn what we need to do to help them to be more successful. If cooperation is the plumbing that underpins the sustainable future that we need, then we need to learn how we can be better at fulfilling that role. Personally I think that banging on about cooperatives is not the right approach.

I'm more interested in developing ways to make cooperation easier (I think we make it quite hard currently), and developing spaces (both physical and digital) where cooperation can be the default setting (because in most spaces its not even an option). In order to do these things well we have to start with where are customers are and learn from them.


bob cannell Wed 20 Apr 2022 9:38AM

We need to consider why our ‘good news’ is not spreading. Why do harmful or distracting ideologies (xenophobia , personal salvation) have such traction they reproduce with little effort. But our ideas, economic democracy, don’t. I was talking with the ICA about adapting and using the techniques of evangelical Christians to evangelise cooperation. Didn’t get far.

We are clearly doing our agitation the wrong way because it gets nowhere. Let’s stop repeating activity we know fails (Einstein called this idiocy) and have a long look at how others do it and use our few resources more productively.

(Simply saying xenophobia is attractive because it’s normal is a tautology. And blaming the Mainstream media? A whole generation doesn’t use it anymore. No excuses please.)


Graham Thu 21 Apr 2022 12:37PM

@Josef Davies-Coates do you know where this book might be available? You're normally pretty good at this stuff.


Kate Whittle Wed 20 Apr 2022 4:25PM

Looks interesting and useful. There's an ebook which is a bit cheaper:



Martin Meteyard Tue 19 Apr 2022 5:01PM

The title of this new book seems to echo suggestions from @matt wilson and @Graham for the conference theme: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/practicing-cooperation


Martin Meteyard Mon 18 Apr 2022 3:44PM

Also while I'm on, for anyone who reads French this is a really inspiring website where nine co-operative organisations from different sectors have come together "to give you the power to radically transform the economy alongside us by building a completely co-operative economic model" (my rough translation). What we should be doing at Ways Forward (we could invite them)? https://www.licoornes.coop/


Graham Mon 25 Apr 2022 3:53PM

That's helpful to know. I am working on the application today and have not ruled out getting you something in time for the 28th. Just so you know.


Martin Meteyard Mon 25 Apr 2022 3:48PM

Given the tight deadline, and the fact that we seem to be no nearer to having a budget that could accompany a grant application to NSC, I should add that there would be another opportunity to apply to this funding stream before the proposed October date of the conference.


John Goodman Thu 21 Apr 2022 2:49PM

Emailing now


Graham Thu 21 Apr 2022 2:45PM

Thanks @John Goodman @Martin Meteyard - yes please forward to me at [email protected] and I'll aim to get it turned round ASAP.


John Goodman Thu 21 Apr 2022 2:41PM

Martin and I are already discussing. It's a 1-page application form, which Martin or I can email to someone who volunteers, or gets pushed forward, to deal with it. Is that you, Graham?


Graham Thu 21 Apr 2022 12:28PM

As I recall @John Goodman is involved with NSC also? Might it be possible for the two of you collaborate on this?


Graham Thu 21 Apr 2022 12:14PM

Hey @Cath M in Leeds (Cornerstone Housing/Radical Routes/Platform6) are you in a position to pull together an outline budget in the next couple of days for this? I'm happy to write up a proposal - is there a pro forma @Martin Meteyard ?


Martin Meteyard Mon 18 Apr 2022 5:37PM

I can sponsor it as a member of NSC, and it's just a simple one-pager outlining what the applicant proposes to do with the money, but we really need to get a bit more specific about our plans and what the overall budget is likely to look like. Maximum we can apply for is £7K (but maybe we should go for less?). Presumably it would go through Platform 6 bank account?


Graham Mon 18 Apr 2022 4:19PM

Can you provide any detail as to the application process for this grant?


Graham Mon 18 Apr 2022 4:01PM

That's a very tight timescale. A shame that this opportunity wasn't raised a month ago.


Martin Meteyard Mon 18 Apr 2022 3:33PM

I fear that with Easter and everything we are once more starting to lose momentum on this. Do we have any kind of outline budget yet? The reason I ask in particular is that there might be the possibility of applying to the Network for Social Change for a small grant towards the costs, but the deadline for applications is Thursday 28 April.


bob cannell Wed 13 Apr 2022 11:04AM


bob cannell Wed 13 Apr 2022 10:55AM

Naughty, naughty Martin.


Martin Strube Wed 13 Apr 2022 6:52AM

How bout "co-operation is the economic manifestation of natural human gregariousness"? ))


Graham Tue 12 Apr 2022 7:45AM

Came up with this as a response to a tweet the other day, and it stuck in my head as a potential strapline for Ways Forward: cooperation is the underpinning protocol for a sustainable future for the planet.

I think it captures the foundational importance and ‘under the bonnet’ nature of cooperation and positions it as the glue (as Martin said on the last call) that binds the diversity of social movements and solidarity economies that we are looking to address.


Martin Meteyard Fri 1 Apr 2022 5:47PM

Well, as I remember (and memory is fallible), it was basically a deal with Students for Co-operation whereby a certain number of their members got free places (and in some cases free travel and/or accommodation) in return for doing some of the jobs like getting there early to help set up, staffing the registration desk (mostly before the conference started), running around with the mike during Q&As etc. Will we just be offering bursaries now with no such expectations? And it was the conference organising team (at least speaking for myself) who ended up missing bits to do things like welcoming/chaperoning speakers.


Prices in the past have been kept affordable by offering free places for people who volunteer on the day. However, Matt and I are uncomfortable with the poorest people (sometimes also those who might benefit most from the learning) therefore missing out on bits of the conference. So here is an alternative suggestion:

a) people generally help out, even if they've paid full whack. Moving chairs about, shepherding people back into meetings, serving food, etc - all those 'in between session' tasks, that show we're co-operators.

and, perhaps more innovatively

b) human sponsorship - as well as or instead of cash sponsorship, co-ops lend members to help out with specific tasks that will likely involve missing bits of the sessions. That way it can be people who are good at a particular thing and aren't fussed about the meetings and networking so much - staffing the registration desk, welcoming/chaperoning speakers, making sure stallholders have what they need, standing on the street because attendees can't find the building, getting food set out, tidying rooms between sessions, photography and TECH - helping set up the mics, the presentations, getting any online stuff working, etc, etc.

What do you think of that as an idea?


We need to find people who want to get paid to coordinate and do a bit of legwork - we'll be approaching the three we came up with, but could do with some other offers or suggestions.

Whoever takes on either individual or collective coordinating will need to decide their fee and work out a budget for it, while keeping prices affordable (2019 prices for ref: Organisations £80, Individuals £60; early birds £60/£45 plus multiple bursaries)

The advantage of the co-ordinator being an old hand, is that they know who to approach for sponsorship and aren't afraid to ask, but we can also source crowd-wisdom here for that.


Tim Coomer Wed 13 Apr 2022 11:54AM

Just flagging that those dates are school half term for some - maybe that's why the venue is available.


Today's meeting (Graham, Martin M, Matt W, Sion and me) agreed:

  • Manchester Methodist Central Hall again, it's the cheapest city centre venue in the country

  • Thursday lunchtime to Friday close of play

  • either 20 & 21 Oct or 27 & 28 Oct - comments about clashes and synergies here please!

  • ongoing collaborative meeting notes: https://annuel2.framapad.org/p/ways-forward-8-9tee?lang=en


John Goodman Fri 1 Apr 2022 12:46PM

Apols, have another virtual meeting at 3 but keen to see a lively WF22 and happy to contribute in some way as plans develop.


Alex Bird Fri 1 Apr 2022 12:17PM

Sorry I can’t make it this afternoon. Hope to join you next time

Happy if you decide to return to Manchester although dates don’t suit me I they look like good timing


matt wilson Thu 31 Mar 2022 5:00PM

not much to report from universities - currently awaiting some info from loughbrough, and thomas and dan agree that we'd like to use the uni's resources as much as we can, if that's desirable - and that we've got some good justifications, given the LUCOOP project, for asking for the use of space without being charged. but accomodation is likely to be pricey, and campus is not exactly central. and that's true of lots of campuses, so we probably need to decide how convenient the venue needs to be if we want to puruse that route.

have asked about some other uni spaces but nothing back yet.


trying to find info about Leeds venues.


Info for tomorrow's meeting: Manchester Methodist Central Hall - about £10% higher than 2019.  Nothing has changed in terms of tech - wifi a bit faster. spoke to Tim, but it's Julie who does the bookings, but she goes home at 3pm, but he'll tell her we were in touch.

Available the following Thursdays and Fridays:

22 & 23 Sep 20 & 21 Oct 27 & 28 Oct


Graham Fri 1 Apr 2022 12:24PM

Sorry to hear that Kate. Look after yourself.


Kate Whittle Fri 1 Apr 2022 10:06AM

Sorry Graham I've got covid & feeling pretty rough, so I
won't be able to join you, but look forward to hearing the
outcomes of the meeting this afternoon.



Graham Thu 31 Mar 2022 3:16PM

Reminder: Friday April 1 at 3pm in the https://de.meet.coop/gra-cpf-owy-a9s room: discussion and decisions regarding Ways Forward conference for 2022. Please do come along if you can to contribute your ideas for a strong event. Would love to see @Kate Whittle @Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) for example, but also anyone in this P6 community Loomio who'd like to see a great pro-cooperative conference happing later this year.


Graham Fri 18 Mar 2022 1:04PM

Reminder: I think we agreed to reconvene this afternoon at 3pm to pick up the discussion about Cooperative Ways Forward for 2022. The recording, shared notes and chat form the last call are still here: https://bbb.de.meet.coop/playback/presentation/2.3/0a6a21483fb73ce112500d11fef9c457e3d4eae6-1646405524836 and we'll start at 3pm at https://de.meet.coop/gra-cpf-owy-a9s - there is a Platform 6 board call that should end at 3pm in the same room, but in case that overruns a little, please don't be surprised if you join the call and people are talking about something else.


Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) Sat 5 Mar 2022 11:29PM

There's the UK ycn.coop network too


John Goodman Sat 5 Mar 2022 11:15PM

Sorry not to make yesterday’s meeting but mighty pleased to see plans for a real-life WF conference taking shape. Holding it immediately before Co-op Party conference is a great idea. On young people, I’ve just become aware of what the Youth Network of the ICA is doing (talking ‘social transformation’) https://globalyouth.coop/en/coopspring/social-transformation. Let’s invite someone from the Network.

Hope to join you on 18th.


Alex Bird Sat 5 Mar 2022 6:13PM

At the meeting I promised to put in details of union-coops:uk's upcoming conference at Wortley Hall and our online events series (one left)

Easiest way is to start at our website



The conference is £160 inc accommodation on Friday and all meals, or £40 for a Saturday ticket inc lunch

Bursaries are available (sponsored of course by Ways Forward)



Graham Sat 5 Mar 2022 8:44AM

The recording, notes and chat from the first call is available here for the time being: https://bbb.de.meet.coop/playback/presentation/2.3/0a6a21483fb73ce112500d11fef9c457e3d4eae6-1646405524836


Graham Sat 5 Mar 2022 8:43AM

Could do worse than have a public calendar for events like these.


Martin Meteyard Fri 4 Mar 2022 7:01PM

Woodcraft Folk are hosting an international camp "to live co-operatively in solidarity and friendship" from 29 July to 8 August at Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire - could be a fertile source of ideas and young people: https://www.commonground.camp/


hey folks - we just had a good discussion, knocked around a few ideas. The outcomes:

  • we'll decide at the next meeting on Friday 18th March 3pm (at the above link) whether we definitely want to be in Leeds in early October, just before or alongside the Co-op Party Conference.

  • We want to position the identity of the event as having a social transformation agenda

  • we want it to be longer than a day

  • we will try to have some events/webinars/preparation stuff in the preceding months, so that the conference is the culmination of something and there's potential for things to emerge from it.

  • we need some younger people to come on board and we need to find some resource.


Graham Fri 4 Mar 2022 2:56PM

Reminder: we're online to talk about the future of Cooperative Ways Forward now. The link is https://de.meet.coop/gra-cpf-owy-a9s - best browser options seem to be Firefox or Chrome.


Martin Meteyard Thu 3 Mar 2022 1:32PM

Not aure how far i can or want to be involved, but I'll try to make the call tomorrow and we can take it from there.


Alex Bird Mon 28 Feb 2022 11:36AM

I'm sure union-coops:uk would want to be involved. I'll raise it with the other members


Graham Mon 28 Feb 2022 9:53AM

Can we bring the union coops people in?


Graham Thu 24 Feb 2022 11:35AM

In terms of whether to be online, in-person, or both, my inclination is to go with an in-person event as the main 'anchor event' if you will. But I would be very happy to see other events happening across the year, and these could well be online. I'm in process of getting the Ways Forward website back up and running, that that can operate as a hub to promote a range of relevant events under a Ways Forward shared branding, which doesn't preclude partnering with other orgs who might want to leverage the resource. We can handle online registrations, payment processing, and lots of tedious event admin.

In terms of hybrid events, my sense is that to do these well demands significant investment.


Graham Thu 24 Feb 2022 11:29AM

Thanks for input so far. For anyone interested in getting involved there's a call scheduled for March 4th at 3pm UK time. We're using meet.coop and will be here: https://de.meet.coop/b/gra-cpf-owy-a9s


Martin Meteyard Wed 23 Feb 2022 4:02PM

Even if it is in-person (which probably makes sense), that shouldn't rule out online presentations - I think the UK movement needs a bit of overseas inspiration to get back on track. I'm thinking particularly of this guy from The Drivers Cooperative in New York: https://ownershipmatters.net/newsletter-item/building-worker-centered-platform-ridesharing-erik-forman-the-drivers-cooperative/#continue-reading


Kate Whittle Wed 23 Feb 2022 3:41PM

I will help & I would like to see a workshop on antiracism
coalition building


matt wilson Wed 23 Feb 2022 1:53PM

I'd really like to see a focus on big strategic/political questions; my feeling is lots of us know there's a lack of this level of engagement, but that we always push it back in favour of topics/themes which seem more immediate and tangible. i don't mean we should just engage in abstract theory, but that we should devote real energy and time to discussing the bigger questions of how cooperativism might engage in real social change.

I'd prefer it to be in-person, and i'm definitely keen to help with organising etc.


Graham Wed 23 Feb 2022 1:45PM

In terms of timing and location for an in-person event, we are considering being adjacent to the Cooperative Party conference which is set for 8-9 October in Leeds. Thoughts?


adrian ashton Wed 23 Feb 2022 1:42PM

another question to sound out preferences for would be: in person/on-line/hybrid event?