Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A CONVERSATION ABOUT WORKER CO-OPERATIVES

Part of A Potential Toronto
Initiated by Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry (TSCI)
More info: www.tsci.ca | tscinquiry@gmail.com
Thursday, 15 November 2007
7:30 - 9:30pm

Toronto Free Gallery
660 Queen St. East
(w. of Broadview, e. of the Don Valley Parkway)

'A Potential Toronto' wrap party immediately afterwards, with DJs Dorian and Dorian.

Music, cereal, a vibrator, a website, and a cup of coffee: these are just a few essentials that can be bought in Toronto at a worker co-operative - a worker-owned and democratically controlled organization that makes or sells a good or service. Supporting a worker co-op is supporting an alternative economy.

What worker co-ops exist in Toronto? How are worker co-ops different from traditional workplaces? To what extent does this alternative business model escape, subvert, or resist capitalist conventions of competition, hierarchy, and growth? What potentials do worker co-ops offer as an alternative way to reorganize work life?

Join us for a conversation guided by these questions. J.J. McMurtry, a social theorist with an interest in co-operativism, will open the conversation. Participating, will be guests from The Big Carrot, Come As You Are, Blocks Recording Club, Anarres, and Planet Bean.

We invite anyone involved in or curious about the local co-op movement and alternative ways of organizing working life, to join us to talk about their experience, community, challenges and hopes regarding workers' co-operatives as alternative economies - and how it might fit into a potential Toronto.

About the guest co-ops

The Big Carrot Natural Food Market has been a Toronto worker-owned co-operative since 1983, specializing in GMO-free and environmentally safe groceries. The Big Carrot also offers a range of community food services, including cooking classes, free nutritional store tours, free weekly lectures on health and the environment, and a customer service department available to answer questions customers might have about their food choices.

Come As You Are has been proudly worker-owned and operated for 10 years . Having the distinction of being the only co-operatively run sex shop in the world, Come As You Are believes in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others. Offering a wide-array of sex toys, books, videos, and a monthly series of in-store educational workshops, their mandate is to be a sex-positive sex store serving a wide range of clientele.

The Blocks Recording Club, aka 'The □□□□□□ Recording Club,' is an artist-owned worker's co-operative with the goal of working together as a musical community to help members record and release music that they as a community generate. Blocks believes that working together they can accomplish far more than they ever could working apart and further, that by moving closer to a co-operative economy they are helping, in whatever small way they can, to minimizing the harmful effects of capital in the world.

Annares worker co-operative provides a range of technology services that focus primarily on opensource technology, developing websites using the Drupal content management framework. Annares came together because they believe computers and the internet should be a tool to community building and activism, not a hindrance. They believe in using opensource software for ethical and anti-corporate reasons, and because of its affordability, flexibility and effectiveness.

Planet Bean is a co-operatively owned and managed, fair trade coffee roaster and coffee shop in downtown Guelph. For Planet Bean, fair trade means they have negotiated a fair price with their co-op growers and paid an extra premium for investments in their communities like education and health care. Ecologically grown means that their coffee is grown in the shade of tropical forests, which protects habitat for creatures including many of our migratory songbirds. It also means that farmers and drinkers of their coffee are not exposed to harmful chemicals. Co-operatively produced means they put job creation and democracy into their bottom line.

J.J. McMurtry holds a doctorate in Social and Political Thought from York University. His research focuses on linking contemporary social, political and economic theory with the practice of co-operatives and the social economy using a life-theory perspective. J.J. has published works on social theory, politics, literature, and the social economy in scholarly and popular media. He has also been active in a number of movements and organizations for over two decades including co-operative businesses, a research firm, unions at the local and national level, as well as various community and volunteer organizations.

1 comment:

yukon said...

This sounds really cool! I've heard about these cooperatives but I haven't ever heard what they are all about. If I can ever come down from Guelph, I will totally attend.