An eclectic mix of co-operatives came together at The Green Gathering festival to promote co-operation as a basis for social change.
The Co-ops’ Camp at the festival saw 30 co-operators run workshops on issues including the ecological and economic resilience of co-operatives, permaculture, young people and the politics of common ownership.
The Green Gathering brings together performance, from music to poetry, and activism, from austerity discussions to green tech, and its co-operative agenda was organised by Radical Routes, a federation of co-ops working for radical social change. Its co-operators gave advice on setting up a consumer co-op for accessibility equipment, the creation of urban community energy co-ops and forming co-housing projects.
The speakers’ forum at the festival also saw two panel discussions by co-operators. One session explored communal living with not-for-profit collective Diggers & Dreamers and the LILAC co-housing project. The other examined the cultural and economic barriers to sharing, with speakers from the Ecological Land Co-op, Stir to Action magazine and United Diversity.
The event was supported through financial contributions from co-operatives and like-minded organisations such as Essential Trading, Unicorn, the Card Payments Co-op, NW Housing Services, Co-op Business Consultants, Cornerstone Housing Co-op, Suma Wholefoods, Co-operative & Community Finance, Footprint Workers Co-op and Radical Routes.
Cath Muller of Radical Routes said: “There was a wide variety of co-ops represented in the crew, who inspired each other and learnt lots about how different co-ops operate. It was great to meet people from different backgrounds and work out what we had in common and how we tackle different issues and interpret the values and principles.
“Hundreds of people were exposed to co-op ideas and the rich ecology and history of the co-op movement, thoroughly overturning the common understanding of co-ops being just ‘the Co-op’. And dozens got advice on co-op projects they’ve been considering or developing, or help with problems in their existing co-ops. We are very pleased with how this first ‘bolt-on co-op camp’ went and are keen to try it out again at other festivals and definitely at the Green Gathering 2015.”