"Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility." - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Yesterday the Common Council of the City of Buffalo unanimously adopted a proclamation in honor of the United Nation's International Year of Cooperatives, presenting official copies to representatives of seven area co-ops.
This proclamation is a special recognition of the value of cooperative businesses in Buffalo. Cooperatives are different. We embrace cooperative principles, including democracy and social responsibility. We use a cooperative business model that strives to meet members' needs, not maximize profits for a few; ratherprofits are reinvested locally or distributed back to members. We believe we are stronger together than we are individually. And we strive to make Buffalo and the Western New York area a better place to live and work. Many people have heard of the Lexington Cooperative Market, and hopefully folks are beginning to see how the local control and profit distribution of Lexington is hugely different from what happens at Trader Joes, where good food lines the shelves, but decisions come from - and profits flow to - Germany. There are over a dozen groups in the area that use the cooperative business model, and it's not just about food. Some may surprise you!
Energy Cooperative of America: A not-for-profit energy company? You bet. Energy Cooperative is member-owned and provides discounts to both commercial and residential utility customers in New York and Pennsylvania. Since 1997 Energy Cooperative has saved its members over $29 million. www.ecny.org
Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit Union: A financial institution that knows its members and whose mission is to improve the lives of ordinary people. The BCFCU is incorporated under federal law and provides a place where members can conduct their finances in a fair, balanced, and supportive environment. www.coopcreditunion.com
Nickel City Housing Cooperative: Since 2001 Nickel City has provided opportunities for affordable community living based on principles of collectivity and sharing. With two houses, Nickel City also provides a space for community engagement by hosting potlucks, parties, film screenings, art events and more. http://nickelcitycoop.org
Urban Roots: A community garden center, Urban Roots was formed by a group of gardeners who wanted to improve their neighborhood and city and recognized the opportunity for building a sustainable business five minutes from any yard on Garden Walk Buffalo. www.urbanroots.org
Farmer Pirates Cooperative: A cooperative of urban farmers currently farming on the East Side of Buffalo, who share knowledge and equipment and buy supplies together in bulk. They just met their Kickstarter fundraising goal to start up a composting program, so expect to see more good things from the Farmer Pirates soon. www.farmerpirates.com
East Aurora Cooperative Market: Formed by a group of individuals who joined together to establish a cooperatively owned and managed food market in the Southtowns. A success story in the making, East Aurora Co-op already has 650 member-owners and is scouting locations to open their first store sometime next year. www.eacoop.com
Fancy and Delicious Bakery: The latest start-up workers cooperative in Buffalo, Fancy and Delicious will produce artisan bread baked with local and organic ingredients starting this summer. True to cooperative nature, the bakers embrace sharing knowledge, from how to make bread to starting up your own co-op. http://fancyanddelicious.com
In addition to the co-ops who participated in the Common Council event on Tuesday, there are even more local co-ops working to strengthen Buffalo and Western New York communities and economies, including: Upstate Farms Cooperative, Clinton-Bailey Farmers Market, the Eden and Amherst Cooperative Nursery Schools, True Value Hardware and the Eden Valley Growers, Inc.
Re-published with permission from Buffalo Rising, your guide to Buffalo NY news, arts, events & Buffalo restaurants.