I’ve been meaning for a while to mention here the February issue of Co-operative News (and not because it includes a nice little feature on Gritstone Publishing, the new authors’ co-operative of which I am a founder member – although that would of course be worth the mention!)
Co-operative News has been serving the movement since September 2 1871, and it remains a valuable tool. The decision has been taken – correctly, I think – to move from fortnightly to monthly publication, and the February issue is the first one in this new extended format. It works. The design is significantly better than previously and there’s a good range of news and features (the challenge now, of course, is to maintain this breadth of coverage).
Co-operative News is also undergoing a legal change and will very shortly be opening up membership of Co-operative Press Ltd, which produces the magazine, to its supporters and members. This also seems to me to be a valuable step forward. I’ll be becoming a member. We need CN.
I was invited yesterday evening to Halifax, to talk to the local history society there. (I should give it its proper name, the Halifax Antiquarian Society, a venerable local institution first established in 1901). I was discussing the story of perhaps the best known of the later nineteenth century productive cooperatives, the fustian manufacturing coop in Hebden Bridge (also the subject of my 2015 book All Our Own Work).
There were about seventy people there on a cold and cheerless February evening, including the grandson of Thomas Morgan, one of the cooperative’s committee-men, who had made the journey from Morecambe to attend. I must say that it’s very heartening that British cooperative history can still attract this level of interest.
Today has been put aside in my diary for some voluntary work (and some final tweaks to a grant application) on behalf of my local Community Land Trust, for which I occupy the post of secretary.
CLTs are part of a growing movement for what is called ‘community-led housing’, the idea being that bottom-up community efforts can bring much-needed housing to meet local needs which the commercial property market is failing to tackle. Given that today also sees the government’s Housing White Paper published, it seems very appropriate as a focus for my blog.
I can also use the opportunity to get in a plug for a new booklet from the Confederation of Co-operative Housing, which provides a useful introduction to the subject (CCH prefer to talk of ‘co–operative and community-led housing). You’ll find their report, New Co-operative and Community-led Homes, here.
CCH is one of a number of national organisations engaged in this field (Locality, the Cohousing Network and the National Network of CLTs are among the others). It has to be said that there is a slight element of overkill here in terms of national support networks. At some point, a little appropriate amalgamation might be in order.