Frequently Asked Questions on
the Newsgroup:

From: (James Kulczycki)
Distribution: world
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 95 10:01:00 -0500
Organization: CRS Online  (Toronto, Ontario)

A new and improved version of this FAQ will posted by 15 April
1995 if it kills me. Thanks to everyone who has sent
me information to include.

Some of these are not "frequently asked questions" so much as "questions
which *should* be frequently asked", or "questions which you *would*
ask, if you knew enough to ask them."

I,, maintain this FAQ.  Please
mail corrections to me (and post them to in addition
if you wish).  I also may want additional information,
particularly of the general "best places to start" sort, or to
fill in the gaps which are marked below with "? -", but my
intention is to keep this document short and sweet and to
encourage people who want to write more detailed things to do
so, as separate documents.

Also, the following is very United States-centric, but the
co-op movement is truly an international movement (Sweden,
Canada, and Japan, etc.), so more information about
other countries would be welcome.

----What are the Rochdale principles?----

In 1844 a co-op was founded in Rochdale, England which became the
inspiration for the consumer co-op movement and the Rochdale
principles.  The principles as approved by the International
Co-op Alliance are (? - is this the official text?):

1) Open, Voluntary Membership -- Membership of a cooperative
society should be voluntary and available without artificial
restriction or any social, political, racial or religious
discrimination, to all persons who can make use of its services
and are willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.

2) Democratic Control -- The affairs of a cooperative
organization should be administered by persons elected or
appointed in a manner agreed to by the members and accountable to
those members.  Members should enjoy equal rights of voting (one
member, one vote) and participation in decisions affecting their

3) Limited Return, if any, On Share Equity Capital -- Share
capital should only receive a strictly limited rate of interest.

4) Net surplus belongs to user-owners

5) Education -- All cooperatives should make provision for the
education of their members, officers, and employees and of the
general public in the principles of cooperation, both economic
and democratic.

6) Co-operation Among Co-operatives -- All cooperative
organizations, in order to best serve the interest of their
members and their communities, should actively cooperate in every
practical way with other cooperatives at local, national, and
international levels.

----Where do I find out more about this illustrious co-op history?----

"Weavers of Dreams," a newly published book by David Thompson, traces
the history of the modern cooperative movement.  Thompson's story is
focussed on the 'Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers' who founded a
small cooperative retail shop in 1844.  It was located on Toad Lane in
Rochdale, England during the height of the Industrial Revolution.  The
founding group of 28 included a number of weavers, cabinet makers, and
other individuals involved in the trades.  They found that banding
together to provide themselves with affordable necessities was the only
reasonable means to survive the desperate economical environment in
northern England at the time.

"Weavers of Dreams" provides a valuable perspective for contemporary
cooperative leaders.  It is available from the author: David Thompson,
516 Rutgers Drive, Davis CA 95616.

(thanks to for that blurb)

For an international (if dated) look at co-op history and
organization, the book by the International Labor Office _Housing
Co-operatives_ (International Labor Office, Geneva, Switzerland,
pub. by La Tribune de Geneve, 1964, 154 pp) is decent.  It
provides a basic understanding of co-ops and some international
histories for countries such as Sweden, Denmark, France, USA,
Canada, Poland, Spain, Germany, India, United Arab Republic,
Columbia and Norway, as well as a brief look at the
characteristics and advantages of housing co-ops, and a look at
adapting the co-op formula to developing countries.

----How can I find a food co-op near me?----

There is a national listing of food coops published by Coop News
Network (Box 583, Spencer, WV 25276).  There is also a "Coop
Directory Services" organization which "helps people locate food
co-op stores or food buying clubs near them.  To get this info.,
they should write and enclose a SASE to 919 21st. Ave. S.,
Minneapolis, MN 55404".  Also of interest is the book,
"Cooperative/Credit Union Dictionary and Reference" published by
the Cooperative Alumni Association (250 Rainbow Ln.  Richmond, KY
40475 606-623-0695). Includes definitions, organizations,
biographies, chronologies, resources...  Since many food co-ops
(particularly those founded in the 60s and 70s) have a good
selection of vegetarian food, the World Vegetarian Guide
(published as a FAQ for has many food co-ops in it.

The Ontario Federation of Food Co-ops and Clubs is in Toronto, Ontario.
Call 416-533-7019.

----What is NASCO?----

It is an organization which focuses on student housing co-ops
(students owning and sharing a house, usually with common meals).
in the USA and Canada. For more information, contact North
American Students of Co-operation, Box 7715, Ann Arbor, MI 48107,
USA, +1 313 663 0889.( NASCO's
web pages at have been
updated and have among other things a brief history of the co-op

----Worker Co-ops----

For more information, try:

	Co-operatives Branch
	Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency
	P.O. Box 9
	640 Prince Street
	Truro, Nova Scotia, CANADA
	B2N 5B6

They have a book titled "What makes worker co-operatives work?"

----What is the Institute for Community Economics?----

Their goal is to provide communities greater control over their
institutions and their lives; they particularly specialize in
affordable housing via community land trusts (but also deal with
consumer co-ops, worker co-ops, non-profits, and other
organizations). They provide below market-rate loans to groups
which meet criteria such as affordability.  Institute for
Community Economics, 57 School Street, Springfield, MA
01105-1331, USA.  +1 413 746 8660.  A good book on community land
trusts is the Community Land Trust Handbook, available from the

----What is a producer or marketing co-op?----

This is a co-op which markets goods which are produced by its
member-owners.  For example, dairy farmers may sell their milk to
a dairy marketing co-op, which then markets it to stores,
wholesalers, etc.  Some well-known marketing co-ops are Sunkist,
Ocean Spray, and Land O' Lakes.  For more information, see (? -

----What is the National Co-op Business Association (NCBA)?----

Formerly the Co-operative League of the USA (CLUSA), this is the
leading USA co-op organization.  They do things like lobby
congress, have meetings of co-op leaders, etc.  While many kinds
of co-ops are members of the NCBA, if you want a rough
generalization of what they are like, think mainstream (rural
electrics, crediteam (rural electrics, credit unions,
co-operatively owned Ponderosa's, etc).  1401 New York Ave. N.W.
Suite 1100, Washington, D.C., 20005-2160 USA.  +1 202 638 6222.

----What is the National Co-op Bank?----

It was founded in 1980 to provide loans to co-ops.  They focus on
mainstream loans (i.e. risks similar to loans from commercial
banks, market interest rates, etc.).  They are in Washington,
D.C. and the phone number is +1 800 955 9622.

----What is the National Association of Housing Co-ops (NAHC)?---

An association whose members would tend to be co-ops which are
divided into units which are each occupied by a household, rather
than the more communal student co-ops.  National Association of
Housing Cooperatives, 1614 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314,

----What is co-housing?----

Co-housing refers to a residential development which combines
individual households (including a kitchen, bathroom, etc.) with
common facilities (kitchen, laundry, etc.).  Other defining
characteristics are design by the people who plan to live in the
community and trying to encourage informal interactions between
people more than in traditional neighborhoods.  There are many
regional or local co-housing organizations; a good source for
up-to-date information would probably be the national co-housing
newsletter, _CoHousing_, The CoHousing Network, 1620 Belvedere
Ave., Berkeley, CA 94702, USA. $20.00 per year (3 issues).  (I
say "probably" only because it's new and I haven't seen a copy).
A good book is Co-housing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing
Ourselves by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett, ISBN
0-89815-306-9.  Another, more recent, longer, book is
Collaborative Communities--Cohousing, Central Living, and Other
New Forms of Housing with Shared Facilities, by Dorit Fromm, ISBN
0-442-23785-5.  There is an internet mailing list on co-housing;
to subscribe send a message to saying "subscribe
cohousing-l ".

----What about intentional communities?----

The term intentional community covers a wide range of groups,
from student co-ops, to income-sharing communities with most
facilities being communal, to co-housing-like communities.  They
may or may not have a religious or philosophical basis.  Given
this diversity, it's hard to generalize; the best way to get a
feel for it is to look through the Directory of Intentional
Communities, published by the Fellowship for Intentional
Community.  ISBN 0-9602714-1-4.

Another good thing to know about is the Federation of Egalitarian
Communities.  This is an organization of income  This is an
organization of income-sharing communities, more specifically,
each community
1) Holds its land, labor, income, and other resources in common;
2) Assumes responsibility for the needs of its members, receiving
   the products of their labor and distributing these and all other
   goods equally, or according to need;
3) Practices nonviolence;
4) Uses a form of decision making in which members have an equal
   opportunity to participate, either through consensus, direct vote
   or right of appeal or overrule;
5) Works to establish the equality of all people and does not
   discriminate on the basis of race, class, creed, ethnic origin,
   age, sex, or sexual orientation;
6) Acts to conserve natural resources for present and future
   generations while striving to continually improve ecological
   awareness and practice;
7) Creates processes for group communication and participation
   and provides an environment which supports people's development.
   For a copy of their brochure (free, but $2 donation suggested),
   write Federation of Egalitarian Communities, Box UN1, Tecumseh,
   MO 65760, USA.

----General Sources of Much Information----

University of Wisconsin
   Centre for Co-operatives
   230 Taylor Hall
   427 Lorch St
   Madison, Wisconsin 53706
   (608) 262-3981

Co-op Housing Federation of Canada
   311-225 Metcalfe Street
   Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1P9

Co-op America
   1612 K Street NW, Suite 600
   Washington, DC 20006
   (202) 872-5316

Co-op Housing Bookstore
   100-22 Mowat Avenue
   Toronto, Ontario M6K 3E8
   (416) 538-7511 (price list available)

----Yeah, but what information is available *on-line*?----

Seems like the best sources aren't, unfortunately.  There is some
stuff (mainly a fairly long book list) available via gopher to

Things are happening on the WWW, and this FAQ will be updated when
information flows in.

You can call the Co-op Housing Federation of Canada BBS at
(613) 230-2904 in Ottawa, Ontario. From within Canada, you can
call toll-free at (800) 589-7924.

James Kulczycki, Management Consultant
Co-op Housing Federation of Toronto

Hari Srinivas -
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