Cultivating a Stronger Co-op Sector
Posted August 19, 2009on:
In a recent blog post, Amy Sample Ward presents the compelling metaphor of gardening vs. landscaping as a way to view community building.
At the heart of the metaphor is the idea that landscapers start by tearing down in order to build an idealized space. Gardeners, on the other hand, work by removing weeds and cultivating within the existing environment to nurture growth.
On Co-op’s own mission statement outlines our goal to lead, cultivate, and connect the Ontario co-operative sector. This cultivation, this gardening approach to building and growing co-op community is a key element in our current government relations strategy.
As momentum towards the creation of a Provincial Co-operatives Secretariat slows in the face of a government hiring freeze, we keep our eyes on the weeds, cultivating and nurturing growth where we can. The “Wish List” of short and long term initiatives is a perfect example of the small but substantial changes we’re seeking to implement to improve the environment for co-ops in Ontario.
Created at the request of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Wish List compiles easily deliverable initiatives to be carried out through partnerships between the Ontario government and the co-op sector. These initiatives include:
- incorporating information about the co-operative business model into the Service Ontario website
- bringing information and expertise about the co-operative model into the 70 Service Ontario centres across the province
- initiating online registration for co-ops via the Service Ontario website, putting co-ops on an equal footing with other businesses
- maintaining an up-to-date provincial database of co-ops
These initiatives, along with 9 others, are focused changes that will, to return to the gardening metaphor, remove the weeds and encourage greater growth. Surveying the landscape, it is clear that those of us in the co-op sector need to keep focused on what will strengthen all co-ops as we work to grow our community and build a stronger province for everyone.
To find out more about the Wish List, or to sign up as Co-op Champion in your area, please post a comment or contact me.