After chatting with a friend yesterday about the Government’s proposed Welfare Reforms and how they might affect housing co-operatives, I went to a certain co-operative supermarket on Mill Road to do my shopping and then on to the local wholefood co-op for some specialist supplies. It occured to me that this was rather a lot of, erm, co-operation all in one day and made me wonder just how many co-operatives there are locally.
Firstly, what is a co-operative anyway? Well the definition that co-operatives generally adhere to is:
“an autonomous association of persons who voluntarily co-operate for their mutual social, economic, and cultural benefit.”
This definition applies to all co-operatives and members of co-operatives make the decisions about how their organisation operates – this is usually done by regular meetings and based on the principle of each member having one vote. Co-op’s take on many forms, for example there are worker co-op’s, housing co-op’s, educational co-op’s and more – I’ve even discovered that Cambridge has it’s very own Ukulele Co-op!
It might not seem like there are many co-operatives around Mill Road (or indeed in Cambridge) but there are actually quite a few:
- Arjuna Clinic for Complementary Therapies
- Arjuna Wholefoods
- Argyle Street Housing Co-operative
- The Co-operative Food
- The Co-operative Pharmacy, which is also part of the same co-operative group as the food one.
- Global Thinking Co-operative. Ok so this one is not technically Mill Road, but you can walk to it in less than five minutes and I found their website pretty interesting and so wanted to include them!
- Paradise Housing Co-operative
So it certainly seems there’s a fair amount of co-operation going on in and around Mill Road, and that people really are investing in their own neighbourhood – which is probably part of the reason why Mill Road has such a community feel to it.
2012 is actually International Year of Co-operatives, so there’s never been a better time to co-operate. In fact there’s rather a lot to say about co-operatives, so I might just write another article about them soon…