A Cooperative View of Prosperity
Jeff and Aaron had the opportunity to represent On the Move Organics and The Root Cellar to a roomful of cooperatively minded folk at the Co-op Connections conference last Wednesday, describing the evolution and purpose of the two businesses and the future plans and dreams. What if we could operate a carbon neutral delivery program that could offer pedal powered 4 season distribution? What if we could build a community of cooperative business that would create enough exciting job opportunities that London youth no longer feel compelled to leave the city after graduation?
One of the presenters had the attendees participate in an exercise where we defined prosperity and then shared the definition with the room. The language used centered on wellbeing, on healthy communities and a healthy environment, and on personal and communal happiness. Where financial prosperity was mentioned, it was in reference to having enough, to being financially stable so that you, either personally or as an organization, could pursue those goals. So, profit, or surplus as cooperatives like to call it, is not a dirty word. It’s the purpose that profit gets put towards that is the difference. For us, that purpose is funding the work of rebuilding our local food system. That means building a successful business that can create a more stable and understanding market for local food, that can create meaningful employment for those of us making the pickups, packing the boxes, cooking and serving the food, pouring the coffee and pedaling the delivery bike. It is also about developing the future tools for a more sustainable food system, like an efficient ice-cooled walk-in cooler, or a solar powered electric assist delivery tricycle with serious hauling capacity.