What it means to be a Community Service Cooperative

This is Part 2 in a short series on cooperatives, and specifically on Community Service Cooperatives, because that is the designation for Skookum.

As a cooperative, we adhere to all the rules as described here (there are 171 of them) based on the BC Cooperative Association’s Regulations. This includes the fact that cooperatives are owned by their members (that’s one member=one vote, as opposed to being based on amount invested/donated, making cooperatives very democratic entities), and that each member holds a stake in the cooperative, that can be redeemed at any time. At Skookum, this is represented by your share certificate that costs $20.

The gist of it: What’s A Community Service Cooperative?

  • The purpose of a Community Service Cooperative can be either charitable or to provide health, social, educational or other community services to members, with a responsibility to the wider community. While Skookum is a non-profit cooperative organization, we are eligible via this new Community Service Cooperative designation, to apply to the Canada Revenue Agency for charitable status, if we so wish.
  • Assets collected or donated may only directly support and grow the cooperative (providing members with services and access to information, events, tools, land, supplies etc.), Skookum cannot return profit shares to members (unlike Mountain Equipment Co-0p or First Credit Union), whether on a periodic basis nor upon dissolution of the cooperative.
  • If the cooperative were to dissolve, members would receive their initial share price, after satisfaction of its liabilities and the costs, charges and expenses properly incurred in the dissolution or winding up. Any further assets must be transferred to or distributed among one or more community service cooperative or a registered charitable organization.

Skookum is concerned with increasing the amount of food available locally, regardless of how it comes to people:

  • Grown: any kind of produce, grains, beans, etc.
  • Gathered: wild foods, gleaned fruits nuts, etc.
  • Raised: animals other domesticated food sources;
  • Caught: wild animals, fish, etc.
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The Triple Bottom Line:
Healthy Community: we intend to produce benefits for the social life of the community, through the strengthening of ties among people, by respecting and honouring the work that people do to feed themselves and others;
Economic Vitality: we intend to produce economic opportunities for people, embedded in a vision of a fair and just economy which pays fair prices and fair wages;
Natural Environment: we intend to minimize waste and destructive practices as we go about our work.

In practical terms, the cooperative’s members are encouraged to reflect Skookum’s commitment to the three pillars of the Triple Bottom Line (social, environmental, economic) by creating and supporting projects that help members to grow, gather, catch, raise, preserve, prepare and share healthful food as locally as possible.

As a cooperative, Skookum is a ‘bottom-up’ organization that relies on the energy and ideas of its membership to address this Triple Bottom Line through engagement at the levels of governance, project management, and participation in the projects or events we develop/participate in.

Skookum has no paid staff, but projects are expected to provide for coordinator remuneration, while addressing our core values and purposes, and providing a percentage toward Skookum operating costs. Recent projects include a member-run bulk purchase of fruit trees, ongoing Tattler lid sales, Cover Crop sales, and The Abundant Pantry Bulk Buying Club (now offering Cafe Justicia fairer-than-fair trade coffee, and always more local products), but also the recent get-together and plans for more informational/fun events like seasonal potlucks, film screenings and guest presentations in the fall/winter to come. We are also planning another round of our yearly ‘Apple Cider Press-a-Thon’ at the 2013 Powell River Fall Fair on the weekend of September 21-22.

We are seeking helpers for this as well as materials to make it work even better, so contact us with how you want to help out or click here and come up with your own Skookum project; check this page out for inspiration.

 

 

Sunday March 24 11AM-1PM: Skookum presents Cafe Justicia at the CRC

bags_photoIf you missed Leocadio Juracan’s visit with us last year in May you might be interested in attending our next Skookum mid-day Social on Sunday, March 24, coffee-themed potluck 11AM, presentation noon to 1 PM at the Powell River Community Resource Center         (4752 Joyce Ave.)

JusticiaPostersmall
Click for large poster

11AM is the starting time for those able to participate in the coffee-themed potluck luncheon or we’ll see you at 12 noon if you’re coming just to hear Leocadio and Francisco’s  talk. Feel free to bring a guest or two  as we can accommodate up to 60 at this location. Don’t forget to bring cash if you want to buy coffee (we are trying to get unroasted beans too, for you DIYers). Please let us know if you can attend. There will be a small fee of $2 to offset the cost of renting the CRC. 

Click here for some ideas on cooking/baking with coffee.

Leocadio is the driving force behind a Mayan indigenous NGO called the CCDA based out of Guatemala whose concerns are social justice and agrarian reform. The Comite Campesino Del Altiplano or CCDA now owns 3 beneficios and are exporting organic beyond fair trade coffee exclusively to Canada. Cafe Justicia is a high elevation, shade grown, organic coffee produced in the Highlands of Guatemala by indigenous campesinos. Individual local cooperatives operate through the CCDA to process and market their coffee, thus avoiding many of the middlemen keeping the people in poverty. The CCDA is also very active in restoring civil rights and educating communities, providing medical care facilities, some micro financing, schools and libraries, educational scholarships, and the redistribution of lands for agriculture and homes for the landless poor. For more on the CCDA and their work see: http://www.justuscoffee.com/producers/our-growers/ccda-guatemala

The coffee, Cafe Justicia is marketed from Vancouver by BC CASA (more about them at: http://cafejusticia.ca/ ) and we are getting very close to being able to distribute their outstanding product through The Abundant Pantry our own bulk buying club.

Leocadio will be in Powell River on Sunday, March 24 and we’d like to invite you to come hear him speak, share a potluck themed around coffee and taste some of their fabulous brew (you’ll also be able to buy some if you can’t wait for the next TAP order. The event, spoken through Steve Stewart as interpreter is most interesting. Steve established BC CASA in the 1980s  to support positive social change in the Americas. From the outset they had a strong connection to the CCDA and helped introduce the coffee to Canada in early 2000. He has been a good friend to Leocadio for many years and the translation flows accordingly. This year Leocadio is bringing Francisco Coz as an added guest, an elder of the organization; Francisco was born in 1947 and he began organizing peons on the coffee plantations in the 1970s, like Leocadio he is a Kakchiquel Maya and lives in the village of Nueva Vida in Solola province.

Thanks,

Jacqueline Huddleston

 

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