Co-ops_Farmers_New Ag - Centre for the Study of Co-operatives

usaskstudies.coop

Co-ops_Farmers_New Ag - Centre for the Study of Co-operatives

C A N A D A ’ S C O - O P E R A T I V E P R O V I N C E 5 1between the ages of five and eighteen in co-operative work on environmental projects suchas constructing compost bins, composting, banding trees against pests, gardening, bicyclerepair, and arts and crafts. The participants learn basic skills including financial responsibility.They keep most of the income from their activities, while the staff who help them arefunded from grants and other sources. The community benefits created by the co-operativeinclude positive attitudes, partnerships of young people with businesses and community organizations,and reduced crime or fear of crime. 93 Like many other social co-ops, the CoreNeighborhood Youth Co-op blurs the boundaries between volunteers and employees, commercialrevenue and government grants.Where earlier co-ops were often clearly commercial enterprises for a defined groupsuch as farmers or residents of a particular town, some of the newer co-ops are more complex.Many of them involve multiple stakeholders, either formally as in the case of the socialco-ops identified above, or informally as in the community clinics, where staff have importantvoices even though the organizations are consumer-sponsored. These new structuresand approaches reflect new social issues and alliances, new urban environments, and theconstant experimentation and adaptation that is part of the reality of co-operatives.Saskatchewan has become a predominantly urban place whose economy is driven bynatural resources and services. Co-operatives have remained and grown stronger — exceptfor those specifically tied to agriculture — and have appeared in new and varied forms. Allthis hints at a remarkable transformation in the movement. Co-ops have completed the transition,most of them, from farmer organizations to community organizations. The kind of“community” they represent also enlarged in many cases. The older ones became better atmarketing and much better at working together with each other through their federationsand centrals. The newer ones have engaged in brand-new ways with community organizationsand the governments of municipalities, the province, and the nation. In other words,the ongoing survival and strength of co-ops is best explained by an almost continuous transformation.Co-operatives have kept their place in Saskatchewan by changing — a processthat is still occurring.O C C A S I O N A L P A P E R S S E R I E S # 0 5 . 0 1

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