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.
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.



Skookum’s Celebratory Social

A look at the Skookum Social (Jan 31, 2012)

The members of Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative gathered at Trinity Hall in Powell River on January 31 2012 to celebrate our first public gathering for 2012, the United Nations International Year of the Cooperative. The salad/dessert pot-luck event attracted over 30 of our 101 members. The meal was centred around Jacqueline Huddleston’s delicious risotto and quiche dishes, and graciously emceed by member Alison Taplay. A special gift basket was awarded in absentia to Nansi McKay and Nancy Tyler (members #100 and 101), and presentations by Wendy Pelton, coordinator of The Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Project and by directors David Parkinson and Giovanni Spezzacatena provided lots of news about what’s going on with our cooperative.

Here is some of what we talked about:

    • Alison talked about 2012 Year of the Cooperative, and set up an informal agenda for the evening, ending with a call for ideas on new projects and for helping hands to organize and implement existing ones;
    • Wendy Pelton gave us a major update on The Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Club, which is about to be launched;
    • Giovanni Spezzacatena talked briefly about the Bulk Seed Project (deadline Feb 14, 2012), and on Skookum Members’ Survey Results;
    • The Skookum Community Bookshelf was introduced: this is a Skookum Cooperative initiative by Director Sharon Deane and Melissa Leigh where members may donate books that they feel would be appropriate to cooperative member use to this project housed in Kingfisher Used Books. A dedicated bookshelf will be set up letting only Skookum members borrow these materials. Contact Sharon at the store for more information;
    • David Parkinson reported on the Skookum Gleaners project. The upshot is that key Skookum members have devoted a lot of time and effort to this community project, to little benefit to the cooperative, while other projects more in tune with our purposes have suffered. The board of Skookum has voted to let this project go, but encourage members to reach out to us if they want to pursue this project outside of the cooperative;
    • David also briefly introduced the concept of a Community Orchard that may prove to be the evolution of Gleaners. Please reach him if you have an interest in this up-coming project.

A couple of items that got a little lost in the fray, but we’ll pick up on these in future posts and gatherings:

    •  Skookum co-presents the feature documentary film How to Make a Farm) at Powell River Film Festival;
    • Skookum’s board wants to set up a Project Selection and Development Team to help in selecting viable projects from member proposals, and guide the process;
    • We want to set up a crack team that will be focused on Fundraising Events, to help fund Skookum projects, and to engage members; contact Giovanni if you are interested.

Mark your calendars! It’s a members’ social!

Skooky Greetings to all our members!

Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative is in the beginning stages of planning a members’ social at the United Church in Powell River at 6:00 PM on Tuesday January 31, 2012.

The idea is to bring our members together to enjoy a meal, share ideas, and generate some plans for the new year. The Board will take care of the main course, while we ask members to bring a salad or dessert. Members will be asked to jot down the ingredients and if you’d like, the recipe for your dish.

So, this is a call out to you – our members – for a theme or activity for the evening. We could host a talk, a show–tell, a video, a digital slideshow, a discussion, music, puppet show, etc.; as long as it will increase access to or knowledge about food, cooperatives, or some other aspect of our vision and mission.

Once we get a clearer picture of what’s in store for the evening, sometime in early January, we will reach out to members to help with organizing and running the event.

Also, you may recall our Skookum Members’ Survey? (Click here to take it now if you haven’t done so already; it expires on December 21, 2011.) Well, this will be an opportunity to hear the results and to develop a better understanding of Skookum’s skills, assets, interests, goals,concerns. We have some exciting new and recurring projects in 2012*,we want you to take ownership of these.

2012 is the International United Nations Year of the Cooperative — let’s ring it in, in style.

 * Hint: that little squirrel in the greeting will likely be involved!

Members’ meeting on April 13, 2011

Calling all members and friends of Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative! We’ll be holding a public meeting on Wednesday April 13 at 7:00 PM at the Community Resource Centre on Powell River to talk about our plans for 2011:

  • Projects: What do our members want to see happening in 2011? The board has been hard at work on a project proposal form and procedures for going from a great idea to a workable project. We want to share that with our members and start getting everyone thinking about how we can all become project leaders.
  • How projects work: We’ll discuss some of the ins & outs of projects; how we remunerate a project’s coordinator(s); and shares of the proceeds that go to benefit Skookum and the community in general.
  • Ideas for new projects: The board has started to think about how we might go about bulk-food buying among our members. Another project idea is for more collective food-preservation work parties, like the tomato-canning bash we did last summer. We still talk about a community potato patch, but we need a coordinator/champion for that one.
  • Getting ready for our Annual General Meeting: Our AGM will be in June again this year, and our term limits force our President (David Parkinson) and Treasurer (Sharon Deane) to step down from those offices. We’ll be looking for members interested in becoming directors, so we’ll start talking about what that involves.
  • And more? We want to hear from you. If there is something you think we need to talk about a members’ meeting, please contact us.

Please note that this meeting is primarily to talk amongst our members. But of course it’s open to anyone interested in knowing what we’re all about. And we always welcome new members!

Skookum’s first event of 2011: Growing a Co-op

Hello and welcome to 2011!

Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative is proud to present our first event of the new year: we’re bringing in Carol Murray, Director of Co-op Development for the BC Co-operative Association.

Gorgeous poster by our very own Giovanni Spezzacatena (AKA rabideye).

There is a lot of interest around the region in forming cooperatives for various purposes: food co-ops, land co-ops, farming co-ops, housing co-ops, and more. I know, because people often ask me about how we formed Skookum, and also people are often discussing the sorts of challenges and projects that seem suited to a cooperative solution.

If you’ve ever wanted to know more about how co-ops work, how to get one started, what they are good for, and learn about some interesting existing models of co-ops that we might want to adapt in this region, please come on out. There will be a brief presentation on Skookum to let you know what we’ve been working on and where we’re heading in 2011 and beyond. We hope to sign up some new members and start talking about what we want to work on together in 2011. We’ll have plenty of time for questions and answers with Carol, who is very knowledgeable about all kinds of cooperatives. We’ll even have door prizes!

Admission is free and is open to all.

Please note that this special meeting will take place in Trinity Hall at the United Church in Powell River (6932 Crofton St., at the corner of Duncan & Michigan) at the normal time of the Kale Force meeting. With generous assistance from First Credit Union and the Powell River Food Security Project, we will be providing food at 6:00 PM. Carol’s presentation will begin at 7:00 PM.

If you are considering forming a cooperative, or if you simply have some detailed questions about cooperatives, we are setting aside time for people to meet with Carol during the day on Wednesday. If you’re interested in setting up an appointment with Carol, please contact us at skookum@skookumfood.ca