Co-op Creation

Notes from the Co-op Start-up Fund brainstorm meeting:

We had our first meeting! The minutes are below. There is a sub page for each of the questions that we brainstormed and brainstormed answers! Please add feedback on those sub pages!
Coop Financing Meeting 3/22/12
Attendees: Gabriel, Joshua, Matt, Anaheta, Kyla, Shaka
Quick intros and dream for coop financing 5-10 years out and other coop financing comments:
G- Funds to seed startup of coops
J- What are safe investments? Vices… Can coops meet that need? Middle class types can buy for folks. Demand exceeds supply big time!
A-  Interested in off-grid and farming coops, housing coops with educational purpose. Coops don’t have to own property to be good and other options then owning exist. 
S- Used to live in a coop in Cambridge near Harvard a long time ago. Now is homeless.
K- Lots of coops are less rent then other housing options so people could donate some of that difference and that could add up quick! Say $5 per person per month to support new coops in boston, existing coops in boston that are facing eviction, etc. Lets define who gets the money so that marginalized people can have access to funds and not be left out.
M- Fan of ownership of coops. Exhausting to fundraise to buy but possible. More specific the coop theme the more successful the campaign for that coop. Lets have parties and raise $ for this fund. Shift in culture or focus to et coops to buy their rented coops. Owning coops builds equity to buy new coops. 

Other comments:
Not for profits are legit organizations that landlords will rent to.
We could create trusts for land/property so that when people pass away they have setup a system that transfers it to BCC (or other coop not for profit in boston).
Who is we?
  • Collective House Assembly
  • Coop Community
  • People at this meeting
We should have clear defined organizers like a board or steering committee so that it can keep its core direction going but then empower everyone to participate. What should that look like? Workers coop paid to do this in the long run!

Background of boston coop financing options and existing players discussed

Brainstorm list of Questions:

Where Does the $$ come from?
  • $5+ on coopers rent (voluntary contribution)
  • Donations
  • Encouraging people can buy houses to make coops
  • Foundations/grants (especially housing justice)
  • Allied loans
  • Fundraising
Where do we store the $$?
  • Specific coop startup fund account at BCC (no comingling of funds)
  • Move larger amounts to CFNE
  • Coop structure option – buy membership w/dues to raise money (BCC fits this?)
  • Are there costs to store the money/move it around?
How do we collect/transfer the $$? 
  • Checks
  • Bank to bank transfers
  • Paypal/online equivalent
  • Auto Withdrawals
  • Trusts
  • Cash to check
Who decides where the $$ goes? / What is the process for deciding where the $$ goes?
  • It could be a BCC project – BCC maintains fund, paid by dues/members, etc
    • Would the Board want to do this?
  • Separate collective or board or committee 
  • Membership org w/decision-making structure
  • Collective House Assembly – Makes proposals and ideas to either BCC or a voted small core collective financing committee for them to decision on
  • Two levels of decision making
    • Accessible
    • Accountable
Who gets the $$?
  • Loans or grants? Or BCC ownership/rental
  • Neighborhood/cohousing development
  • Strong group identity/values, clear mission, public criteria
  • What kind of coop-rental, realty. Divide set %?
  • See “urban edge” model
Who does the fundraising outreach and to whom and for what?
  • Partnerships w/existing organizations doing housing/economic justice work in Boston (like City Life)
  • The Collective House Assembly working groups
  • Student groups 
  • Wealthy donors and investors
  • Marketing materials and media
  • Name?!! What should we call this fundraising/financing movement? 
Action steps: Process, Structure
  • Get the info on the internet in a readable format – Gabriel
  • Solicit feedback from wide range of stakeholders, including BCC+CHA specifically – Kyla
  • Incorporate feedback into wiki, make new action steps! –Kyla, Gabriel, Anahita
  • Write a proposal…

<Random thought from Oren!>
I got in touch with one of the folks from the Mustard Seed Co-op, which is listed at and has a website. It turns out their website was an 'exploratory' website to form a new co-op, but it did not recruit enough people to get a quorum. The contact said that they're still interested in starting a co-op, but that they need someone with project management or legal know-how to get it off the ground.

What BRANCHES provided a service to get these things happening? I'm envisioning with contacts in BCC (who has a budget for funding new co-ops), and with experienced and enthusiastic co-opers, we can 'deploy' 1-2 'critical members' who would help liason with landlords and organize the 'first generation' of a new tenant-run co-op. I'd be interested in trying out a role like this!
</Random thought>