SXSW – Tech Cooperatives: A Better Way to Make a Living
Update: the audio recording of our SXSW session is now available on the SXSW site:
Resources and Links
A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. There are many different types of cooperative. Worker cooperatives share the benefit of owning and operating a business among the people who work in the business.
Special thanks to:
Anna Boyer – C4 Tech & Design
Benjamin Bradley – Gaia Host Collective
Thomas Beckett – Ownership Appalachia
Organizations and Resources
U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives – U.S. grassroots organization for worker cooperatives and democratically-managed workplaces.
Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy – biennial conference of/for worker cooperatives for the eastern U.S. and Texas.
Western Worker Cooperative Conference – biennial conference for the western U.S.
American Worker Cooperative – Arguably the best source of current information about worker cooperatives.
Statement on the Co-operative Identity – internationally-recognized definition of a cooperative and the seven guiding principles of the cooperative movement.
National Cooperative Business Association – The pinnacle organization for all cooperative sectors in the U.S.
International Cooperative Alliance – An independent NGO representing cooperatives worldwide. Founded 1895.
GEO – Grassroots Economic Organizing – excellent source of cooperative news & current thinking on worker cooperatives.
Technology Worker Cooperatives listserv – mutual support & information sharing
2012 International Year of Cooperatives – now in progress!
Democracy At Work Network (DAWN) presentation on cooperatives to Occupy Wall Street
Mondragon Corporation – largest worker cooperative in the world
A Technology Freelancer’s Guide To Starting a Worker Cooperative – excellent handbook written by several IT co-op veterans. (PDF)
Humanizing the Economy: Cooperatives in the age of Capital, by John Restakis. New Society Publishers (2010; ISBN 978-0-86571-651-3). A global survey of cooperatives establishing alternative strategies to capital-driven enterprise.
Companies We Keep: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place, by John Abrams. Chelsea Green Publishing (November 8, 2008; ISBN 160358000X). A practical and thoughtful study of Abram’s successful worker cooperative.
Putting Democracy to Work, by Frank Adams & Gary B. Hansen. Berrett-Koehler Publishers (January 1, 1993; ISBN 1881052095; out of print). Considered the essential startup-guide for worker cooperatives; a third edition is in progress.
For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America, by John Curl. PM Press (September 1, 2009; ISBN 1604860723). A definitive history.
The Real World of Employee Ownership, by John Logue & Jacqueline Yates. Cornell University Press (March 2002; ISBN 0801433495 ). Statistical study of the competitive advantages of worker ownership in industry demonstrating that worker-owned enterprise outperforms investor-owned business by most measures.
Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice, by Rudolf Rocker. AK Press (ISBN 9781902593920). Oldie but a goodie; a primer written near the beginning of the Spanish Civil War at the behest of Emma Goldman, it explains many of the foundational theories of modern democratic workplaces and organizations.
A non-exhaustive list of IT Cooperatives in North America
Active Tech Co-ops & Collectives:
Gaia Host Collective (Hosting, MA) – http://gaiahost.coop/
C4 Tech & Design (Web production, design, support, repair; New Orleans) – http://www.c4tech.com/
Quilted (Web Design, CA) – http://quilted.coop/
Web Collective (Web & Software Design, WA) – http://www.webcollective.coop/
Design Action Collective (Web & Print Design, CA) – http://designaction.org/
Electric Embers (Hosting, CA) – http://electricembers.net/
Ronin Tech Collective (Web Design, VT) – http://www.ronin.coop/
Tech Collective (IT support & Web Design, CA) – http://www.techcollective.com/
Union Technology Cooperative (support, network, repair; Madison, WI) – http://www.utcwisconsin.com/
Flywheel Tech Collective (software & Web development, design; Cleveland, OH) – http://www.flywheelcollective.com/
Koumbit.org – (Web development, design, hosting; Montreal, Canada) – http://www.koumbit.org/
Analog (Web design; various) – http://analog.coop/
Palante Technology (Web dev; Brooklyn) – http://palantetech.com/
Praxia Tech (Web & network mgt services; Chicago) – http://www.praxiatech.com/
Data Systems, Inc. (business software; Burlington, VT) – http://www.datasystems.coop/
CoLab Coop (Web design & development); Los Angeles & Ithaca, NY) – http://colab.coop/
Brierwood Design (Mobile and Web App Development; Ottawa Canada) – http://www.brierwooddesign.com/
Software Co-op (Software product & web development; UK) – http://www.software.coop/
Beluga Software (Custom software development; Olympia, WA) – http://www.belugasoftware.com/
Plausible Labs (mobile apps & custom development; SF & NY) – http://www.plausible.coop/