The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.


Leave a comment

Coop Helps Improve Environment

Some of you may have already heard of Fertile Ground out of Oklahoma. I feel like I’ve come across that name before. In any case the company came up in my news feed when an Oklahoma City station aired a segment about them. It seems the company that had been contracted by three local cities to recycle their waste announced they would no longer be accepting glass.

Fertile Ground Cooperative stepped in to see what they could do.

As an environmental co-op, Fertile Ground worked to cut out that corporate middleman.

“We were able to find a solution where we can immediately start recycling glass, right here in Oklahoma, with an Oklahoma-based company,” Singer said.

I found the idea of an environmental co-op intriguing and went to their website to learn more about Fertile Ground. Not only was the business established to improve and protect the social and natural environment, but they structured their organization as a cooperative toward that goal.

WHY are we a WORKER COOPERATIVE?

A worker cooperative is a values-driven business that puts worker and community benefit at the core of its purpose. The central characteristics are that workers own the business and participate in its financial success on the basis of their labor contribution to the co-op, and that workers have representation on and vote for the board of directors, adhering to the principle of one worker, one vote.

Worker-Owners enjoy work because they have control over the conditions of their labor.  Because worker-coops are locally owned, workers don’t pollute their own backyards, they are more inclined to pay themselves fairly, take care of their safety, and contribute to the local economy.  Worker co-ops are also more productive than traditional workplaces because workers have greater buy-in and receive a portion of the surplus (profit).

We love worker co-ops because they can be a tool to empower people who are locked out of the mainstream economy.  Checkout institute.coop for more info about worker co-ops!


Leave a comment

Documenting the most Striking and Inspiring Cooperatives in Five Continents

They say the best way to learn is to teach.  It couldn’t be more true.  Writing a blog post is the process of condensing a lot of information into an easily digestible form.  As a result, I’m learning right along with my readers.  Here’s something I didn’t know:

Cooperatives are not a marginal phenomenon:

  • More than 12% of humanity is part of any of the 3 million cooperatives in the world!
  • The Top 300 cooperatives and mutuals report a total turnover of 2,1 trillion USD, according to the World Co-operative Monitor (2017).
  • Cooperatives contribute to the sustainable economic growth and stable, quality employment, employing 280 million people across the globe, in other words, 10% of the world’s employed population.

You might also be interested to know the Italian researcher Sara Vicari and filmmaker Andrea Mancori, have set a goal of visiting and documenting, in a series of short films, some of the most striking and inspiring cooperatives from different economic sectors in five continents.  They started the aroundtheworld.coop project in January.  You can get more detailed information about the project on their blog,

All the videos will be made available on ICA’s youtube channel


Leave a comment

Are you interested in starting a coop?

From the large amount of material coming into my feed daily, it appears more and more grassroots organizations are springing up around the country dedicated to building a robust cooperative sector.  United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives is just such an organization.

The USFWC was founded in 2004 when a core of worker co-op members came together with co-op developers, scholars, community organizers, and supporters from the broader co-op sector to strengthen worker co-ops through a national, sector-specific organization. Building on growing momentum, this founding event brought together worker co-op practitioners from the existing Western Worker Co-op Conference and the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, as well as key players in Midwest and Southern states, to galvanize and support rising interest in the worker co-op business model.

This is a great organization if you want to learn more about cooperatives or are interested in starting a coop. They have many resources available including a Co-op movement study guide.


Leave a comment

Women’s Day Special

The World Fair Trade Organization is celebrating Women’s History Month with a series of podcasts featuring Fair Trade Enterprises started and run by women.

Allison Havens founded Yabal Handicrafts in Guatemala to keep alive indigenous weaving techniques and create livelihoods for local women. Today, the women producers are becoming the main income earners in their family and challenging gender norms. Her story unpacks what it means to truly prioritize local producers over increasing profits – getting to the heart of what makes an enterprise mission-led.

 

Bethlehem founded Entoto Beth in Ethiopia as a social enterprise. Today, her enterprise gives opportunities for 200 women in marginalized communities. She upcycles bullet-casings and has adopted Fair Trade to create jewelry and bags for global markets.