From Ownership to Stewardship?

Response to Part Two

The prompt left me reflecting on eco-system models that can hold the intersection of “alternatives, institutions, and personal change.” In watching our cooperative eco-system grow we constantly encounter the foundational need for personal change so that those eager for a piece of the change, and often those who have been harmed and marginalized by current economic models, can reflect on the economic concept of “enough.” For those of us with privilege (often at the helm of cooperative development organizations) we cannot impose what “enough” means. So who decides this- at what point does the cooperative first care for its members and at what time does it give back (especially its surplus) to community and beyond.

How do the alternatives that we are building structurally support personal change and structurally move us even beyond co-operative principle 7 (cooperation among cooperatives) to models that allow for business to thrive beyond the time of our own imagination. (Cooperation among cooperatives yet born!) We assume that institutions are often negative, stodgy or entrenched, but how do our cooperatives and our cooperative eco-systems institutionalize the idea of passing on and caring for the wealth beyond our time? How do our owners become stewards of a world we have not even yet encountered. How do cooperative models facilitate stewardship beyond ownership?

We are currently looking more deeply a models of cooperative trusts (used more in the UK), and ownership by collectively run organizations that have ownership shares in worker-cooperatives to “institutionalize” the idea of stewardship. What are our blindspots?

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