The Climate Co-ops
“We never were separate from nature and never will be, but the dominant culture on earth has long imagined itself to be apart from nature and destined one day to transcend it. We have lived in a mythology of separation.”
― Charles Eisenstein
Because the way we collectively spend our money and pay our bills is how the whole show is ultimately funded, and what we collectively do with most of our waking lives – our work – is how it is all achieved, we (the general population who have to work for our money) have two very powerful tools at our disposal.
Currently, the means to meet our needs are organised by people who are fully absorbed in a worldwide competition to hoard the largest amount of other peoples wealth. Obviously, this leaves us without a decent portion of the wealth we create every day.
By organising to provide for ourselves, and by working within the organisations we create, we deprive these wealth hoarding folks of their access to our wealth, and of their access to workers. We can claim this wealth (which we have produced in the first place) and this work (which we have done, and will continue to do) for ourselves, in our own communities.
We just have to organise it ourselves.
By turning the bills we already pay towards locally owned and run co-operative businesses, we can then decide what these businesses do with the wealth they create. We can create local co-operative systems which are designed to key in with ethics and principles compatible with safe, happy, healthy communities and a thriving Earth.
Through these Climate Co-ops, we can fund the beginning of a new economy, with very little cost to ourselves (we just keep on paying our bills – but now to ourselves). Through them, we can begin a new business culture of working together in non-authoritarian ways towards a collective, community focused form of wealth.
We will provide ethical and just employment for local people (a Right Livelihood) and an opportunity for people to experience “daily democracy” through their workplace – a learning experience that cannot be unlearned, which will lead to a desire for properly democratic structures in the larger society, and provide practical, first hand knowledge of how to achieve this.
The Climate Co-ops can provide a short term (20-30 years) investment opportunity for divestors – traditional investors who want their money to support good, creative things.
We have already begun this process through the formation of the Pre Power Co-operative system.
Pre Power members have the right to:
- Get Co-operative owned renewable equipment installed on their homes, for the cost of membership. Electricity will be sold to them with a big membership discount.
- Invest in the Co-op. Returns will be significantly better than typical superannuation returns.
- Participate in deciding where the profits should be spent – for the common good.
The profits will be split between:
- Obtaining administration and other services from the interlinked central co-ops
- A fund which co-op members can use to lower their energy related costs of living and burden on the environment
- A grant fund to begin and support new enterprises and social groups which fit within the ethical context of the system we are creating.
Now in its later stages of development, Pre Power is the first of many co-ops we will build, integrated across many sectors.
See our project page for more information on Pre Power. Also see the Soil City Co-operative Farms project page for our next Climate Coop, in the planning stage now.
All of the organisations we create must be in the business of directly meeting our needs, including the need for a healthy, functioning environment in which to dwell.
Using a portion of the profits of our businesses to fund further businesses, we expect Climate Co-ops to branch out into all aspects of society necessary to meet our needs.
Before profits are counted, workers will be provided with decent pay, and a safe workplace – according to their own criteria. The interests of the community and the surrounding environment will also be taken into account and catered for before profits are counted. This internalises many important values that are presently ignored as “Externalities”.
Profits of climate coops will be dedicated to the common good. This may involve retrofitting members houses to reduce members burden on the environment, beginning new climate co-ops in other sectors, and funding community projects which regenerate human culture and community, and the surrounding environment.
By using truly equal ways of relating to one another in our everyday organisations, we believe that the larger, emergent institutions and economies that result from our localised efforts will also relate to the world in a different way – in an inclusive, wholistic way.
Much highly original work has been done on how to implement this concept, and much more experimentation will be required to build a solid library of fair, ethical and effective organisational methods we can choose from.
Food Connect is one group which has tried a few different methods of organisation, and is still refining their work relationships. They are very successful, and this can be partly attributed to their courage when it comes to organisational innovation.
How can we envision these mature climate co-ops fitting in together, and alongside the rest of society?