The Cooperators Podcast Episode 13 Nathan Schneider

“Everything for Everyone” – that’s the title of Professor Nathan Schneider’s book that looks at many kinds of innovative co-ops and it’s a book that gave me optimism that there just may be a bold, bright next act for cooperatives in the US.

In some ways co-ops look to have stalled – where are the new credit unions, the new grocery co-ops? There just aren’t many.

Does that mean the end is nearing?

Nope. Schneider in this podcast talks about wholly new energy for what he calls platform co-ops and also reimagined housing co-ops for instance.

He also is a big booster of purchasing co-ops which, he says, often provide significant benefits to their members but without winning much public notice for the good they do.

There’s also a lot of enthusiasm around employee ownership of businesses – worker-co-ops for instances – which, Schneider points out, won support from both Paul Ryan and Bernie Sanders and it is difficult to imagine them agreeing on anything else.

New times call for new kinds of co-ops and that is happening. Not always smoothly, not always easily, but it is happening.

Why aren’t there still more co-ops? A lot of this podcast is an exploration of the infrastructure requirements that will help enable more co-op formation and success. It can happen. And you’ll hear concrete ideas about the changes that should happen.

And co-ops just maybe can bring improvement to many areas of our lives.

Co-ops also faced what might be called PR problems in the cold war era, said Schneider. It was not a good thing to be seen as a cooperator which some believed was a step nearer Communism. But that stigma may be fading away.

And that may also help an ushering in of a boom era for cooperatives.

A word on format. This podcast started out on one medium – but after 15 minutes that signal vanished. Another 45 minutes were then recorded on a different channel. If you think you hear differences you are probably right. But the quality is good throughout. And the ideas are provocative.

Listen up.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 12 David Gill Marquette Brewing, Drink Up

by Robert McGarvey

Mark your calendar. Late June is when Marquette Brewing in Michigan is slated to open, making it one of around 10 cooperative breweries in the US.

That number isn’t big but just about all these co-ops have formed in recent years. It’s a growing sector.

Understand, Marquette is a small town, population maybe 25,000, in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula.  There’s not a lot of population to draw upon in forming a new co-op but over 200 have joined Marquette Brewing, ponying up $99 apiece.

All in the co-op has raised over $200,000.

An important takeaway from this podcast is how much help other co-operatives have given Marquette Brewing. The co-operative principles really work.

Another takeaway: the rich information board president David Gill shares about this co-op’s journey to opening. He gives what amounts to a how to blueprint.

Great stuff.  Drink up.

Listen to this podcast here.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 11 Mike Reuter on Credit Unions

From the Ukraine to Ireland and Dominica, this podcast travels the globe with Mike Reuter, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, as he shares stories of the challenges faced by credit unions and also the generous willingness of other credit unions executives to help. Exhibit one may be the rebuilding of the Dominica credit union sector after that island’s economy was flattened in a 2017 hurricane.  Credit union execs want to help and they do.

You may think credit unions don’t know that they are in fact cooperatives. I know I think exactly that often and it is frustrating because the nation’s 5000 credit unions could do a lot to advance the whole cooperative movement.

It turns out however that, per Reuter, credit unions in fact do a lot of cooperating. He tells that story in this podcast.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 10 Chuck Conner NCFC on Farmers and Cooperatives

No country produces the agricultural bounty that the US does. We eat better, at lower costs, than anywhere else – and most of that food is produced through farmer owned cooperatives. That’s why you want to meet Chuck Conner, CEO of NCFC, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

Ask Conner what the number one issue facing his members is and the answer is blunt: immigration. The estimate is that the nation’s farms are worked on by over one million workers lacking proper documentation to work legally in the United States. Take them away and, poof, there goes the agricultural bounty because those workers comprise over half of the workforce on farms.

“Congress can’t seem to grapple with this,” said Conner and he chose his words carefully. But also honestly.

Conner also tells in this podcast why a generation ago it was not common to proudly wave the flag of a farmers cooperative – and today that fact is proudly pronounced as more consumers want to know what where their food comes from.

Want to know how to keep eating right? Listen to this podcast as Conner takes us on a tour of agri-business for the past century.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 9 Stuart Reid Food Co-Op Initiative

Want to control what you eat? Of course you do. Join a food co-op and become a member-owner.

Across the country there are maybe 350 to 400 food co-ops and, said Stuart Reid, executive director of the Food Co-op Initiative, many more are attempting to form. That’s his turf. The organization has helped some 140 food co-ops form in the past 11 years. Reid knows what a co-op needs to do to actually open and he tells how in this podcast.

A lot has to do with money but Reid tells how many would-be food co-ops are finding support from governments at various levels. That’s encouraging.

He also tells why food co-ops matter. It comes down to really serving the community and that’s what food co-ops do.

This podcast is everything you always wanted to know about grocery co-ops but didn’t know whom to ask. Ask Stuart Reid – that’s what I did and he gives the details.

In spots the audio quality is scratchy. It’s audible but it may sound like an old vinyl record on a wobbly turntable. Sorry. Just the vagaries of Voip.

Try and you’ll hear it all fine.

Listen up.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 8 Alex Stone CooperationWorks!

Alex Stone’s business is this: helping new cooperatives to start and helping existing ones to mature and do better. That’s the core mission of CooperationWorks! where she serves as executive director.

How is she doing? The podcast opens with a simple question: how many new co-ops form in a year?  Stone explains exactly why that question is a lot harder to answer than you might think.

For Stone cooperatives got into her being early, during her student days at UC Berkeley where she lived in co-op housing and was also involved in a food collective.

Cooperatives, she saw, just work better in many cases.

That’s why she relishes her role in helping all kinds of cooperatives and in this wide ranging podcast she discusses worker owned cooperatives, housing co-ops, grocery co-ops and a lot more.

A key CooperationWorks! function is providing training to would-be cooperators and also board members. We just aren’t born knowing how to prosper in a cooperative system – but we can learn how to do it.

Another role of the organization is gathering data about co-ops but, as Stone readily admits, data is slim in many cases.

Buckle up for a fast ride into cooperatives today and tomorrow.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 7 Frank Shipper on Worker Ownership

Worker owned businesses just are better.

Don’t believe me. Believe Frank Shipper, an emeritus professor at Salisbury University in Maryland and editor of a book, Shared Entrepreneurship.

Shipper is a scholar who has spent years studying worker owned businesses – both ESOPs and worker cooperatives – and he really is convinced that in many cases worker owned businesses just outwork their conventionally structured competitors.

Why aren’t there more worker owned businesses? Partly it’s ignorance. Most of us just don’t know that much about them, and many of us confuse them with communes.

There also are issues around raising capital, especially with worker cooperatives.

Shipper, for his part, has labored hard to dispel the ignorance.  And that’s what this podcast is about.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 6 Melissa Hoover, DAWI, on Worker Cooperatives

The deep dive into Workers Cooperatives continues in the Cooperators Podcast.  Last week we talked with Esteban Kelly of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives. This week it’s Melissa Hoover, executive director of Democracy at Work Institute, self described think and do tank that is doing a lot of thinking about worker cooperatives and how to form more of them, and how to position them to succeed.  

Hoover throws out lots of big ideas in this podcast but a key thought is that just maybe for many of us, as home ownership becomes but a dream, the real way to personal equity is a share of a business.

According to her for many workers that just may be a new, 21st century reality and it is a compelling driver for the belief that we will be seeing a surge in the numbers of new worker cooperatives.

Many of those co-ops likely will be in service businesses. Healthcare. Home care. Gateway jobs into the economy and if the worker can also be an owner, how great is that.

A technical point. We started this podcast using one service but ran afoul with technical difficulties.  In this podcast you will hear my recap of that short conversation.  And then you will hear the actual podcast recording – using a different service – with Hoover.

I kept that four minute starter recording however. For those who want to hear it, here’s the link.  It’s audible but the clicks and strange noises are annoying.  

The full Hoover DAWI podcast is here.


Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 5 Paul Bradley on Co-Ops and Mobile Homes

Owning a mobile home park is like owning a Waffle House where the customers are chained to the table.

That quip is attributed to a leader in the mobile home industry.  

It’s a thought Paul Bradley, president of ROC USA in New Hampshire, often mulls. That’s because his company is in the business of helping mobile home park residents join together into a cooperative to buy the land their mobile home sits on.

Understand the weirdness. Mobile homes aren’t mobile, not usually. If they are, it would cost the owner thousands of dollars to move it.

They are in a poor position when it comes to dealing with rent hikes.

But when they are owners, everything changes.

Not one of the hundreds of deals Bradley has put together has gone bust. Not a one.

It’s a tremendous example of cooperative principles really working to transform lives.

A lot more can be done and, in this podcast, Bradley calls out for more efforts to bring cooperatives to the economically disadvantaged.

What’s stopping you?

Listen to the podcast here.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 4 Esteban Kelly on Worker Owned Co-ops

Presented by Robert McGarvey.

Listen in here


That sound you hear just may be a tidal wave of worker owned cooperatives.

At least that’s what Esteban Kelly, executive director of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, is hoping for and working for and dreaming about.

He believes that just now be the time for worker owned cooperatives.

Why? Because for so many of us our economic lives are grim. Income inequality is the economic buzz work du jour but it’s just that old saying, the rich are getting richer and the poor, well, you know what’s happening with them.

Kelly says that in a decade maybe 0% of Americans will have zero assets.

That’s busted, baby.

Worker ownership of businesses just may be the cure.

And a lot of it is happening today. Retiring Baby Boomer entrepreneurs are selling their companies to their employees, often as a worker co-op. Home health workers are joining together and forming co-ops. So are cleaning crews.

There’s soaring recognition that it just is better to own a slice of the pie.

Listen to this provocative half hour podcast.

And know we have three or four more worker cooperative podcasts in the pipeline.  Now’s the time to learn more about this movement. And The Cooperators Podcast is where to learn.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.