A cooperative (or co-op) is a business that is organized according to certain principles that encourage every employee, customer, and member to benefit from the contributions of all the others. Cooperation toward a certain goal and democratic control of the business are key in determining the success of a cooperative.
The International Cooperative Alliance sets out seven principles of cooperatives:
- Voluntary and Open Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Member Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training, and Information
- Cooperation among Cooperatives
- Concern for Community
You can read more about each of them here.
Many of the earliest cooperatives centered on distributing agricultural products in a fair and profitable way. Today, co-ops provide a wide variety of kinds of business products and services. In Austin, there are co-ops that run grocery stores, provide cleaning services, maintain housing, and many more. But the larger goal of each of these is to balance the economic and social needs of the workers, the organization, and the surrounding community.
KOOP has been cooperatively run from the very beginning–it’s even in our station call letters! The station is governed by elected bodies, and decisions are made democratically. Anyone with the time and interest can learn the broadcast arts here, and there are many other ways to participate in bringing independent radio to the airwaves for the benefit of the community.
In an increasingly corporatized world, KOOP and other cooperatives become more and more important for ensuring the well-being of our communities and ensuring equitable distribution of resources. For more information about co-ops in Austin, visit the Austin Cooperative Business Association.