Cooperation comes in many forms. Grocery co-ops and large ag co-ops tend to dominate the top-of-mind awareness for many, and have a tendency to look similar; however, once one starts seeking out co-ops in the community, one can’t help but marvel at the diversity and ingenuity of communities using cooperation to meet their needs.
“The Next Door, Inc. is a nonprofit based in Hood River, OR and The Dalles, OR, whose mission is opening doors to new possibilities by strengthening children and families and improving communities. We envision a supportive community where all children and families are safe, healthy, and valued. We provide family, youth, health promotion, treatment, and economic development services.”
This co-op centered in and around Hood River and The Dalles Oregon (along the Columbia River) provides more than material benefit to its members (by creating food security). The project also promotes human development of its members and propels them to take control of their destiny. Providing jobs is a pathway to vitality of the individual and the community as farm manager Anna Osborn writes.
Raíces operates as a spanish-speaking community. The Latinx community makes up about 30% of the population in this part of the state. By working together, Raíces builds off of the foundation of the shared community. This is the definition of cooperation but the co-op also has chosen to use sociocracy as its governance and decision-making platform. Sociocracy operates through a model of flattened hierarchy through linked circles and consent decision-making. Given the nature of the this co-op is decentralized to begin with, sociocracy seems like an excellent fit.
Currently, the co-op includes about 30 families working together to build a regional food system that benefits its members that has found success in meeting member needs and providing a basis for future development both as humans and as a community.