Here in the US, October 1 marks the start of National Co-op Month. It’s a time to celebrate cooperatives and the pivotal role they play in building the solidarity economy. Co-ops’ rich history demonstrates that they have the ability to act as a building block for creating a more equitable economy and are able to thrive resiliently in times of economic upheaval. They take many forms and their reach spans industries — the US alone is home to over 30,000 cooperatives from credit unions to resident-owned utilities.
In the spirit of commemorating this solidarity staple, here’s how we’re celebrating all things co-op this month — and how you can too:
Shopping with (local) co-ops
ACE and REI are two nationally recognized cooperatives, but they’re not the only options if you want to patronize a cooperative business. About half of the 100 largest cooperatives in the US are agricultural, which means that a great way to support your local co-op could be doing your regular grocery shopping with them. National Co-op Directory is a great resource for finding natural co-op food stores and supermarkets near you.
Attending/co-hosting co-op events
There’s no better way to celebrate than with friends! Whether you’re a co-op member or a community supporter, there are tons of ways you can get involved. Neighboring Food Co-op Association (a federation of food co-ops across the northeastern US) hosts an annual Co-op Month Photo Competition for its members and also co-sponsors local events, like the Southern Vermont Co-op Month Celebration. Chances are a quick Facebook or Eventbrite search will turn up a handful of Co-op Month celebrations near you.
Sharing resources and guides
Putting ethics into action is an essential part of Co-op Month. By sharing skills, knowledge, and resources, we help to grow the cooperative community, empowering others to participate and learn. Over the years, we’ve compiled helpful guides aimed at doing just that, laying out the basics for starting community and housing co-ops, and even worker-owned businesses.
Start.coop has additional resources for co-ops that are looking to accelerate growth. The United Federation of Worker Cooperatives list of resources includes a service provider directory and co-op clinic (a network of peer advisors). Sustainable Economies Law Center’s worker co-op resources page features legal guides, teach-in videos and more.