Radical Routes Summer GatheringTagged as: co-ops housing radical_routes
Neighbourhoods: bradford hebden_bridge leeds manchester shrewsbury
The summer Radical Routes Gathering was an exciting time for co-ops in The North. Held at Berrington Hall Housing Co-op near Shrewsbury (also known as Crabapple Community), the event saw representatives from housing, workers' and trading co-ops come together in a weekend of sharing ideas, working together and having fun.
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It was also the launch of the Trading Co-ops Network which is designed to encourage new worker co-ops and social centres to join. There were presentations from Oxford Cycle Work Shop, a co-op which provides training and fixes bikes. They employ six people and explained how they work, the benefits such as being your own boss and being able to try out new ideas and difficulties around pay and member turn-over. OrganicLea, a co-op north of London that grows and sells food, gave a presentation on how to deal with having full members and volunteers.
A number of people at the event were involved in radical bike co-ops including one that will start operating out of the Common Place in Leeds. The people of Leeds and beyond can look forward to hearing more about the project very soon! There was also good news for three-year-old Branches, a housing co-op in Bradford, who had a loan of £25,000 approved by the Radical Routes network. This loan will help Branches buy a house. The Bradford project will provide environmentally conscious accommodation for people working for radical social change. Currently they are looking for loans from individuals and other organisations who are interested in investing their money ethically into a co-op. If you want to know more, contact Branches at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Radical Routes is a secondary co-op which means it is itself a co-op, and its members are co-ops. It exists to help support radical housing and trading co-ops through out the UK. It has assets worth over £540,000. These are mainly in the form of money currently loaned to housing co-ops and social centres to put down a deposit on a building or to worker co-ops to get their businesses going. They also offer short term loans to worker co-ops to enable new equipment to be bought.
Rootstock is a seperate social investment society which allows people and organisations to make ethical investments. Rootstock then invests money into Radical Routes to support Housing Co-Ops. Shares can recieve up to 3% interest. It is an initiative of Radical Routes which was created so that housing co-ops could find investment while still providing the kind of investment model members wanted. It is one way to invest money ethically, in a radical network of active people.
The radicalism of the network is explained in its aims thus:
Our world is shaped by the forces of greed, capitalism and materialism, where maximum production and optimum profits are vigorously pursued, making life a misery for many and putting us and the environment at risk. The system is ultimately controlled by the rich and powerful, the capitalists and bureaucrats, through the use of many mechanisms such as ownership of the economy (making people slaves to a job) and control of the media (creating a passive culture). Radical Routes is a network of co-ops and individuals seeking to change all this. Radical Routes aims to create a network of co-ops trading with themselves putting money and putting their efforts into taking control for themselves.
There are 39 full member co-ops all over the UK with four in Leeds and Bradford alone. A network which lends money, and deals with the regulations involved, and has over 200 individuals could easily fall back on the standard model of representative democracy. Instead of this, the network uses consensus decision making, working groups and representatives to function. There are quarterly gatherings where at least one representative of each member co-op gets together with the others to sort out tasks for the next three months, build links with other activists over the country and meet the regulatory requirements of the UK Financial Services Authority.
For more information on how to set up a housing or trading co-op or social centre see www.radicalroutes.org.uk, email email@example.com or come to the next gathering in Manchester. There are also many examples of radical routes co-ops in the north: Cornerstone, Xanadu, Lupine and Footprint (Leeds), The Hive and Branches (Bradford), Nutclough (Hebden) and Equinox (Manchester).
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org