Go forth and co-operate

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:

I also discovered that the Romsey Town Allotments Group and Vinery Road Allotments are both listed with Co-operatives UK, as is one of the Woodcraft Folk young people’s groups.

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…

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