Ramifications continue over the Co-operative Group’s decision to re-re-brand, away from the ‘national’ The Co-operative brand they had previously effectively spearheaded. I understand that Co-operative Group members will shortly get replacement turquoise cards for the standard yellow honeycomb cards which have been issued up to now. Which is fine, but could create no end of confusion if Group members are also members of independent regional societies which themselves issue honeycomb cards. Letters are now going out to people in this situation, trying to explain what’s happening. Poor old regionals.
Is there anything positive in all this? Just possibly, if it means that the regional societies are able to reaffirm their own independence from the Group as autonomous member-owned co-ops, something which was very difficult under the previous combined brand.
I’m a co-op member.
Well, of course, I’m a member of a number of different co-ops, from the Co-operative Group to my local co-operative pub. But, no, I mean that I’m a member of a new co-operative, one which will shortly begin trading. Our venture is, we strongly suspect, the first authors’ co-operative of its kind in the country. It is bringing together (initially) four of us who earn our living as professional writers, it will be specialising in books on the outdoors and the countryside, and it will enable us to jointly market our own titles under a shared co-operative brand. After several meetings and weeks of discussion, the decision to proceed was taken last Friday (in a café in a small town in the Midlands). There’ll be a press release when our first titles are out and I’ll tell you exactly who we are and the name we’ve chosen then…
I shared a drink (a modest half-pint of real ale, since you ask) in a local co-operatively run pub on Saturday with members of the Leeds and Wakefield co-operative history group who were spending the day exploring the co-operative past of my part of northern England.
They were telling me of the problems of researching the history of co-operation in Leeds, the result of records from the early days (and indeed more recent times) being lost. Keeping important archive material away from the Great Skip of Destruction is vital if future historians are to be able to do their work.
As you may know from past blogs here, I’ve been working with a few colleagues recently on an archive project to try to preserve records from the late twentieth century workers’ co-op movement. Our project application is currently being assessed by the Heritage Lottery Fund. I’ll let you know how we get on just as soon as I know myself.
Suma, the long-established and highly successful wholefood distributor which is structured as a workers’ coop and which practises pay equality and multi-skilling, is the subject of an article by Jenny Carlyle in HR Magazine this month. Well worth a read. The web link is here.