Co-op experts turn to YouTube to release film on their alternative economic model

‘Building a better economy: a film about co-ops’, was written and produced by Tom Webb from Global Co-operation Inc

A new educational film about co-operatives has been released on YouTube.

Building a better economy: a film about co-ops, which is around 40 minutes long, features input from academics and co-operators to explore a central question: can we build a different economy, designed to meet our basic needs and protect the ability of the planet to support life, based on the best of what it means to be human?

After laying out the global challenges of inequality, exploitation and climate emergency, the film moves to exploring how the co-operative movement is offering an alternative to the current system.

It draws on examples of local economies where co-ops are thriving – such as the Basque country’s Mondragon, home to the world’s largest federation of worker co-ops, and the Italian region of Emilia Romagna, where co-operatives make up 30% of the economy. 

A number of Canadian co-ops are also profiled, such as credit union VanCity, Gay Lea Foods, Co-operators insurance, JustUs Coffee Co-op, Home Care Workers’ Co-operative, Concordia Food Coalition, and Cliffside Court Housing Co-operative, as examples of the seven co-operative principles in action. The seventh principle, expressed as “concern for sustainable communities”, is highlighted as a key opportunity for the co-op movement to respond to the environmental challenges facing the world today.

The film is free for anyone to use, thanks to a collective funding effort from Co-operators, VanCity Credit Union, Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation, Co-operative Enterprise Council for New Brunswick, Atlantic Central Credit Union and League Mortgage and Housing, Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, Gay Lea Foods Co-operative, the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, Newfoundland Federation of Co-operatives, and JustUs Coffee Co-operative.

Writer and producer of the film, Tom Webb, who is also president of Global Co-operation Inc. and adjunct professor at the International Centre for Co-operative Management, said that the film is aimed for use as an educational tool for co-ops.

“The intent of the video was to stimulate thought among co-operative members, leaders and managers about the economic and environmental challenges that lie ahead and what role co-operatives might play in reshaping an economy that is increasingly failing both to meet people’s needs or protect the ability of earth to support life.”

Webb added that he hopes the film will encourage co-op leaders to discuss how to grow the co-operative economy, ensuring that future generations have an economy which meets their needs and protects life, as well as to encourage everyone to “realise we can use co-operation to solve the problems facing humanity”. 

“Hopefully it will also nurture the desire to make our co-operatives even better and collaborate more in concrete ways,” said Webb.