Finding the Co-op community's voice again
At the heart of our Co-op, we find a community that we, over time, all have had a part in creating and developing. Nevertheless, while the community never disappears, we have seen several challenges lately that have made it near impossible to use our trips to the shop as a way to connect with other members. And we are no doubt all craving this connection, and we will reconnect. But not only will we reconnect, we believe that our community will come together even stronger than before. We believe that through a re-launch of the Members’ Affairs Committee (MAC), the community will find its voice again. Because our voices are critical for the membership democracy we practice in our Co-op, and through the MAC we can have our voices heard and also strengthen our say in how our Co-op community develops.
So what is the purpose of a Members’ Affair Committee?
A MAC is an essential part of a member-led co-op and should contain a group of members who come together regularly to discuss topics arising from the broader Co-op community. The MAC will harvest ideas or issues related to the Co-op. This will give members a forum to discuss these topics before deciding whether this is something that needs the attention of the CB. The aim is to strengthen our Co-op by making the members a part of the decision-making process whether it be from an operational or a policy perspective. Furthermore, the aim is to make it easier for members to engage with every aspect of the co-op community.
Re-launching the Members’ Affairs Committee.
To reconnect and bring the membership closer to the CB, it has been a priority to relaunch the Members’ Affairs Committee (MAC) in 2021. To move this process forward a steering group was set up. This group contains a number of very dedicated members along with representatives of the CB. The steering group has worked to establish some guidelines for the structure of future MAC meetings and emphasized key concepts such as solidarity, informality, honesty, openness, decentralisation, and agility. As a part of the steering process, Davie Philip from Cultivate was asked to help facilitate the re-launch.
So far the steering group has met a handful of times to create a platform where members could reclaim the feeling of community which is such an integral part of our Co-op. The idea of the World Café has been aired as a method for the facilitation of future MAC meetings. Furthermore, together with Davie, the group identified a need for rediscovering our sense of community. This became our main objective for the first open meeting which was organised as the Talkin’ Co-op events.
Talkin’ Co-op – How to build community and solidarity?
The first Talkin’ Co-op event saw a group of members come together for a discussion on how to build community. To start the event four speakers were invited to share their experiences with community-based projects. At the event, stories were shared by speakers from:
- The housing initiative CATU. https://catuireland.org
- Community event Street Feast. http://streetfeast.ie
- Dublin community growers Muck ‘n’ Magic from Ballymun. https://www.dublincommunitygrowers.ie/all-gardens/featured-gardens/muck-and-magic-community-garden/
- Cloughjordan Ecovillage http://www.thevillage.ie
- The community based Solid Network who works to build an economy based on solidarity and co-operation.https://www.solidnetwork.ie
After the speakers, the group was asked to discuss the following topic: What do we need in order to strengthen solidarity and community at Dublin Food Co-op?
From this discussion some keywords were identified:
As a follow up to the first public event the steering group is currently in the planning process of the second Talkin’ Co-op event where the seeds for a permanent MAC will be sowed. The focus here will be to discuss and learn from other community-based initiatives and implement these findings in our future MAC structure.
Help strengthen the Co-op community.
We can all have a part in strengthening our community while also strengthening our shop. It is our mission that the MAC will help secure that while also nourishing the members’ interests. We would welcome your contribution to our re-launch of the MAC so please do get in touch. By joining the MAC, you can help shape and strengthen the membership democracy we all know is important for the future of our Co-op.
Our Co-op relies on its members just as much as the members rely on the Co-op.