The past, present and future of The Workers’ Paradise

I started this blog in 2006. My hope was to start a national discussion on the worker cooperative movement. The US Federation had just come into existence and was gearing up for the New York meeting to elect the permanent board of directors. The midwest coops (and Madison in particular) were starting to stir and wake. It seemed like a good time to try to broaden our debates beyond the workercoop listserv.

Over that time, some have piped in and made comments on posts–I started my journey through St. Mary’s and made the Hadj to the Mondragon Experience. I have tried to chronicle my journey and bring issues that I see every day as a cooperator to the fore. In that time, I had no real idea of how many readers were out there. With the exception of a few comments (and people at conferences introducing themselves as a reader) it has often seemed like a way for me to get thoughts out of my head rather than a discussion. I finally took the plunge and moved the blog from the diary like Livejournal to my own web site. This has allowed me to “see” who is reading and much, much more.

Calling All Writers!

Starting today, I am asking people interested in writing about worker coops to join me. If you scroll down the right hand column, you will see a link to register. simply sign up and you will be a “subscriber” then send me an email and ask to be an author.

Here is all that I ask:

  • No personal attacks on individuals or attacks on specific coops (if their is an ethical issue, please disguise the coop or people involved and make it hypothetical). You can, however, criticize public figures such as elected politicians.
  • Keep the subject and body related to workplace democracy, worker cooperatives, collectives and participatory democratic workplaces.
  • Be willing to respond to comments posted on the site (especially if it is your article mentioned in the comment).

Bernard has already signed on. I hope that we can get a few others. You can post daily if you would like or just once or twice a year. I hope that we can take this to a new level and develop a great place for worker cooperators to discuss the issues facing our cooperatives and our movement.

The Identity Statement Series

Sometimes, I realize, I go too long between posts. I am going to try to change that. Starting August 31, I am beginning a series of posts. The first series will be on the Cooperative Identity. Each Monday, I will a discussion about the values, ethics and principles of the cooperative Identity. It will start with the definition and conclude with proposals for additions and changes to the Identity statement. I will incorporate the USDA “user principles” as well as Mondragon’s principles (the three principles in addition to the ICA’s identity will receive their own post).

I expect this to be a 20-22 week series. Each discussion will include a brief history of the development of that part of the identity (the first will be a general discussion of why we have an identity statement). I will also discuss the debate over the different parts and then how it relates to worker cooperatives, collectives, and democratic LLCs.

I hope you join me in this series. After this one is done, I will come up with a series on Human Resources in worker coops. If you would like to send ideas for other series, drop me a line. If you want to write a series, sign-up and drop me a note.

About John McNamara

John spent 26 years with Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and currently helps develop co-op in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a Masters in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary's University and hopes to finish his Ph.D. in Business Administration soon. He has served on the board of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and the Board of Governors for the Democracy at Work Network. He currently sits on the Co-op Circle and Mission Circle for Sociocracy for All. He teaches on worker co-operatives and democratic management in the summer at The Evergreen State College.
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