Entrepreneurs of Cooperation Essay

by Sam Rose

[reblogged here from a post made Cooperation Commons weblog]

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Jonathan Rowe has an excellent essay published at onthecommons.org that discusses historic examples of successful cooperative economies that emerged during the Great Depression era (1930’s) in the US. These economies used bartering, time banks, alternative currency, and cooperative commons-based distribution of knowledge and resources to create self-organized and self-sustaining economies that allowed people to meet vital needs, and solve problems of existence.

Rowe talks about how governments and corporations were eventually able to get moving again, and attract people away from these Coop-based systems. Rowe also discusses how these ideas are emerging again in the face of mounting economic and system decline in present times. His essay talks about how new technologies are moving “control” to local levels, and how urban agriculture is reviving.

I share Rowe’s enthusiasm for the possibilities of self-organized cooperative economies and problem solving. I’ve been collecting resources on a vision of this very thing for close to a year at this WebDesk and within this WebDatabase.I theorize that:

* New technologies give people access to tools and knowledge that previously was only available to a select few. These new technologies give people universal and direct access to markets. They allow people to create and maintain collaborative knowledge bases. They lower the cost of communication. They remove or greatly diminish the overhead cost of doing busniess on many levels.

* New decentralized concepts and technologies of cooperation and collaboration allow solo enterpreneurs to join together and fashion themselves as an outsourcing option for corporations, governments, communities and general markets on all scales.

* Ideas like “micro-investing, micro-lending, and micro-enterprise” are not just for developing world contries. The same concepts can be applied here in the United States on local levels, working directly with people in communities and neighborhoods of all types. As more “traditional” employment roles are outsourced and offshored, a new opportunity has arisen that can allow any individual to create and grow personal wealth and enrich their life.

I also theorize that Open Knowledge, Open Business Models, and Open Design will be important to creating sustainable cooperation around enterprise concepts.

Another person working on these types of ideas is Dave Pollard. See: How to Disrupt and Replace the (Distorted) ‘Market’ Economy

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