International Co-operative Day

Today, the first Saturday of July, is International Co-operative Day. It is the 87th year of this celebration. The roots of the day, as with the overall cooperative movement, are in Northern Europe. They chose this day for a key reason: it is when all of Europe finally has decent weather for outdoor gatherings.

The day itself was to differentiate the movement from May Day, the Worker’s Holiday.

Unfortunately, it will likely never be celebrated in the United States due to its proximity to our Independence Day (known to most ‘Mericans simply as the 4th of July–side thought due to a typo: is this why the $ is the capital of the number 4 in the QWERTY system?). That is a shame, since I see the values of the cooperative movement as being quite in line with the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. Keep in mind that the language of the document and of Jefferson is really that of Interdependence of mutual sefl-help and self-responsibility which are also the key values of the Cooperative Identity.

I celebrated the day by emailing the ICA’s statement on the day to my elected officials. This year’s theme is “Driving global recovery through co-operative enterprise”. It is a theme that we should all be embracing and supporting. As the world seeks to climb out of the economic morass created by the neo-liberals and their neo-con allies, cooperative activists need to step up to show our political leaders that the cooperative model–and the worker cooperative model in particular–can create a sustainable economy without demanding large grants and subsidies from taxpayers (Sure, we will take them, but quite frankly, most coopers that I know would rather not have the hand-out).

Get the message out to your local officials. Send them a copy of the declaration of International Co-op Day. Send it, as I did, to your local papers. The movement recently lost its top leader, Ivano Barberini–he was a public cheerleader for our movement. We need to collectively take his spot. We need to start making people see the cooperative model and the worker cooperative model as a new and better economic model than they one that has routinely failed socieites for the last 350 years.

About John McNamara

John spent 26 years with Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and currently helps develop co-ops in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and Masters in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary's University.
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