1) Community funded sustainable jobs
2) Offering hope through Co-Operatives
Today we have more knowledge today than at any time in history. Our technological tool kits and means of innovation are vast. Thanks to the internet, information to help us understand and carry out tasks is also more freely available than ever before. However, innovators are stifled by an inability to get money from the banks. Although the problems of employment, environment and resources are multi-faceted, the “right” jobs solutions can address multiple problems at the same time but the question is how do we fund them?
When confronted with economic depressions or wars in the past people pulled together, adapted and survived economically through co-operation, innovation and thinking outside the box. Many countries stopped making new cars. More people used pubic transport and bicycles. Some vehicles were adapted to run very efficiently on wood gasification. Hemp (which can be grown on set aside land) also became a popular fuel source coining the phrase “hemp for victory”.
2012 is the UN International Year of Co Operatives. Rather than wait in hope for politicians and banks to resolve the debt and environment problems, we should take more initiative ourselves. More and more people are becoming interested in forming Co Operatives which have many advantages. A common ethos is restricting the wage difference between the lowest and highest paid workers meaning greater job satisfaction. Potential funders (e.g. the mortgage free middle aged and elderly whose offspring are struggling in the jobs market) have greater assurance that they are not going to be ripped off by a few greedy individuals. Co-operatives can drive down the cost of administration, warehousing, retailing and a whole range of overheads by combining the various entities together under one umbrella. Quality tends to be higher as the producers are more local. Risks and skills can also be pooled and greater economies of scale like the “The Co Operative” chain in the UK can lead to lower prices. Above all, the spirit and ethos of co operation is very exciting.
A Co Op can be quite large. A thousand people investing a thousand each contributes a million towards each sustainability focussed project. Each success would convince others to re-invest. In time, Co Op Credit Unions and banks could be set up (one of the biggest banks in Spain is owned by the Mondragon Co-Operative in the Basque Region). Mondragon is one of the biggest Co-Operatives in the world totalling about 85,000 people, set within a population about four times that of Connaught.
There is little doubt that Co-Operatives could be a vehicle to make great things happen.
- http://www.gcp.ie/coOperatives.htm (download booklet)