Held by Stir magazine and facilitated by Bristol’s own Kate Whittle this workshop was a participatory process for exploring how to balance different stake holder interests along co-operative value lines and explore the benefits and obstacles faced by existing MSH co-ops.
Kate emphasised that like all co-operative models, co-operative skills are the most essential element of organising in co-operative structures. Co-operation is sadly not many peoples default culture so maintaining these values is a continual process, fortunately there are plenty of resources out there including Kate’s booklet series From Conflict to Co-operation which you can download as a PDF to help.
The core of structuring a MSH co-op is to identify the vision of the project, identify who the different stakeholder members are and what their different interests are. This could be as simple as acknowledging the difference in interest between the growers and share holders would be in a CSA i.e. the growers and operations workers interest is in employment where as the members interest is in quality and good value produce. They presumably share values are around co-operation and land stewardship.
“Multi-stakeholder boards can be difficult because of the different interests that people bring to the table but the approach brings with it real strength of the recognition that ‘we are all in this together’ … if you really believe in diversity then it becomes our responsibility to develop the ability to listen to each other and come to common ground…”
Dr. Brian Rank, Board Member, HealthPartners
We are exploring this model in our home in which we hope to acknowledge the pressure of the housing crisis, poor tenants rights and a cultural silence between friends in exploitative landlord-tenant relationship who “prefer to see market-driven inequality as random”.