My Experience with Cooperatives

by Jabari Jones

Jabari Jones is a worker-owner of the Arizmendi Bakery & Pizzeria, a worker owned and run cooperative in the Bay Area of California. He can be reached at:
Jabarijones33@gmail.com

I have been a member of a worker cooperative called Arizmendi Bakery & Pizzeria, located in Emeryville, CA, for over four years.  During my time at Arizmendi, I have evolved as a worker-owner and taken a keen interest in the local, national and international cooperative movement.  This seminar was an informative and eye-opening experience.

I went to Mondragόn in September of 2012  with a goal of learning more about how the co-op movement developed in the Basque country, how it has adapted to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and to learn more about the internal business culture and key institutions that support the co-ops.  I hope to use what I’ve learned to help the Bay Area co-op movement grow and thrive, particularly in communities that are predominantly poor/unemployed/underemployed and people of color.  I believe that economic security is a precondition of social justice and political power, and that by increasing and socializing economic security through worker-cooperatives we can transform our society into a system that benefits all, not just the top 1% of the economic ladder.

Prior to the seminar, I had read several articles about the Mondragόn Cooperative Corporation (MCC) that gave rosy, glowing reviews of the complex, and very few that were more critical and probing.  Seeing the MCC in its context (social, political, geographical, etc.), and having the opportunity to dig beneath surface appearances answered many questions and raised new questions.  I was the only seminar participant that was a member of a worker co-op, so I had a basic familiarity with the dynamics of democratic ownership.  However, I relished the chance to get out of my ‘fish bowl,” stepping outside of my limited experience and challenging my assumptions about co-ops in general and MCC in particular.  In addition, the seminar brought together a diverse group of participants that engaged in robust dialogue and networking that has resulted in working groups of cooperative activists and leaders with an array of expertise and interests.

One of the aspects of the seminar that made an impression on me was the intentional development of corporate management, leadership, and cultural evaluation and management that is facilitated by Otalora, Mondragόn’s management training center.  In my cooperative experience, I have witnessed a resistance to hierarchical management, leadership, consistency, and enforcing standards and policies.  I think that these typical attributes of business organization and management are identified as ‘authoritarian’ and are rejected as such.  In other words, there’s a contradiction between the desire to be ‘our own bosses’ and a rejection of the administrative responsibilities of the ‘boss’ role where they may impose on personal autonomy.  There is a reactionary, libertarian spirit that resists authority, for valid reasons, but has the tendency to overreact sometimes in the name of preserving personal autonomy at the expense of collective unity and success.  The cooperative model offers people a space to learn how to relate to one another without an authority figure, so anti-authoritarianism is an essential aspect of coops.  In my view, problems arise when an individualistic attitude positions itself in opposition to the need for strong organization and production standards, a balance between autonomy and teamwork, and a balance of entitlements and responsibilities.  The leader-as-facilitator can be confused with leader-as-dictator.  There need not be this binary relationship between liberty and organization, but years of pro-neoliberal capitalist, anti-communist/socialist propaganda has reinforced this false consciousness of individualist freedom vs. collectivist slavery.  Work needs to be done to deconstruct the myths that support this reaction against forms of management, and move towards a theory and practice of non-authoritarian cooperative leadership in a business environment.  In this way, we can address concerns about economies of scale, and how to retain cooperative values in large organizations such as the MCC.  From what I saw, Otalora seems like a key institution, and I hope something like it emerges in the Bay Area to cultivate cooperative business leaders.  However, there nevertheless seem to be conflicts between workers and managers within the MCC, and I regret we did not have the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Social Councils which represent the interests of the workers.  We learned that only 28% of managers in the MCC are women, which reveals the patriarchal nature of Basque society.  I think that the Bay Area coop movement can do better to promote diversity in all roles.

There are certainly other tendencies that attract people to join worker coops, such as the belief in egalitarianism and social justice through economic development, but I think this anti-authoritarian attitude plays a negative role that draws momentum away (and drives potential leaders and specialists away) from growing the business.  In my co-op, I’ve seen several members leave out of frustration or demoralization, take their knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit with them, and start their own businesses.  At the same time, there is a tendency to shy away from taking on the responsibilities of a leader or manager for fear of being perceived as ‘bossy’.  To be fair, I believe this attitude towards leadership is a natural and valid reaction when we consider how people are affected by, and internalize, the authoritarian, competitive, coercive, hierarchical behaviors and structure of most workplaces, and our society in general.  Cooperation, it seems to me, is an action and a relationship that is manifested through a set of learned social skills.  The existence of the training program at Otalora has convinced me that cooperation can be learned and deployed in the field of management to effectively help businesses succeed.

I foresee that the pressures of the current economic crisis and the opportunity that it presents to the coop movement will force us to re-evaluate our internal cultures, and how we define leadership and power in a democratic workplace.  I believe we need leaders and teamwork to grow the coop movement by facilitating a rooting of conventional business management skills in cooperative values.  I was intrigued by how the MCC deliberately invested in developing business management training and structures because of their usefulness, though they acknowledge the challenges to democratic participation posed by hierarchical organization in large-scale corporations.  In addition, the ways in which the MCC has adapted to remain profitable in a highly competitive and rapidly changing, globalized capitalist system have presented a major challenge to the cooperative principles of the MCC, and strained the meaning of ‘cooperation’ when it comes to worker/manager relations.

Besides leadership training, cultural evaluation and management, I learned that other keys to the success and resiliency of the MCC include their focus on strategic job growth and intercooperativity.  In my co-op, we are currently engaged in a discussion of interrelated issues including hiring practices, workflow efficiency, not meeting demand, and the challenges of growing our business in a troubled economy.  The seminar exposed me to conventional business practices such as strategic planning and total quality control.  I was impressed with how the MCC tracks trends, shifts human resources from industries in mature markets to growing markets, and invests in the Mondragόn University as an entrepreneurial and start-up incubator.  Most importantly, I want to impress upon my fellow worker-owners the importance of always putting people first and investing in education and innovation.  This is important in order to remain competitive, profitable, and employing as many people as possible.  I feel that many worker-owners, myself included, lack ongoing professional business training.  As a result, worker-owners can become shortsighted by appreciating the short-term gains (a paycheck, benefits, etc.) and losing sight of the long-term mission (socializing knowledge and wealth, full employment, and so on).  I believe we need to put successful, conventional business practices to work for us, and invest in ongoing professional development.

The principle of intercooperativity is not new to me, but it was very educational to see it in practice in the MCC.  Mondragόn has designed their cooperative complex so that no one cooperative is directly competing against another, and also grounded themselves in sound business practices to shape mutually beneficial coop interrelations.  For example, one coop might buy products or services from another coop, but only if the product or service is of good quality, competitively priced, and comes with good support services.  If the coop cannot meet all of these criteria, the buyer will search elsewhere.  I think this is very sensible, and ensures that all of the coops are buying and selling the most competitive and best quality product, which ultimately promotes profitability, growth, and job security.

In addition to the individualist, anti-authoritarian attitude I described above, I sense there is also a latent anti-corporate sentiment in the coop community.  There are valid reasons for rejecting the corporation as we know it- systematic wealth inequality, irresponsible behavior, imposing the sovereignty of capital over labor, corrupting the political process with money, unaccountable power, waste and fraud- and there are reasons to utilize dynamic aspects of the corporate business form that can be grounded in cooperative principles.  Cooperativists in the Bay Area should constantly reevaluate the implicit and explicit values held within each coop, and the efficacy of their values and business strategies to yield the best possible result.  This follows the example set by the Mondragόn cooperativists who consider the importance of practical steps toward results as paramount to ideals.  As business co-owners, we need to be honest and aware of values, attitudes and practices that are empowering or self-defeating, and equip ourselves with the best business management tools, and nurture a constructive culture.  We must also become more interconnected to pool resources, share data and best practices, and provide support services to improve the lives of worker-owners and reduce business failure and job loss.  Furthermore, we should think beyond the monetary bottom line and consider how our businesses can be a resource in our surrounding neighborhoods by providing support for community-sustaining activities.

Father Arizmendiarrieta understood the importance of building social institutions, including schools, which would support the communities in which the worker-owners lived and raised families.  A strong and invested community is the basis of any successful social movement.  We must build these institutions wherever they are missing, and form partnerships with existing institutions.  For example, I am currently in a dialogue with two local non-profits to create proposals for internship programs in my coop bakery.  If these pilot programs are successful, I hope to build an advanced program to incubate new cooperatives that are focused on community service while providing employment.

In conclusion, I want to balance my critique of cooperative culture by saying that I have never been more satisfied, felt more empowered or respected, and been more fairly compensated at any other job, and I’m proud to be a worker-owner at Arizmendi.  I’ve also never worked with such a diverse group of people who bring with them special skills, egalitarian values, and a lot of heart.  We put love into our work, we struggle with personal demons, and we strive to overcome obstacles to cooperation and connection.  I feel that the Bay Area has a special opportunity to create successful models of anti-authoritarian, anti-oppressive, feminist, robustly democratic, multicultural, socially conscious and responsible cooperative businesses.  We can accomplish this by building support institutions like those that exist in Mondragόn, and build a cooperative business complex in a manner that is sustainable, practical, liberating and has an uplifting effect on the whole society.  This movement will require communication, courage, honesty, transparency, trust, and an understanding that cooperation is an ongoing process.  Because the Bay Area is so diverse, we have the opportunity to fully express the beauty of our multicultural community, to find unity within diversity, and exploit the current systemic crisis of capitalism as an opportunity to open up the economy for the benefit of all.

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Mondragón: One Step Beyond Capitalism

By Gus diZerega

Gus diZerega holds a Ph.D. in political science has taught in universities. He is an active Praxis member, writes two blogs online, and is a major contributor to the Praxis book, “Uncivil Liberties: Exposing Libertarianism.” His two blogs are:
http://www.patheos.com//Pagan/Pagan-Spirituality-Gus-diZerega-10-05-2012.html
http://dizerega.com/2012/09/27/mondragon-one-giant-step-beyond-capitalism/

From September 8 to 14, 2012 I joined Praxis Peace Institute’s study-tour of the worker owned Mondragon Cooperatives in the Basque Country of northern Spain. The purpose was to expose Americans to the reality of what an economy of worker owned and operated businesses actually looks like. It was an eye opener and this is the first of several posts I will do on my experience.

Much of the Basque region is a land of heavily forested mountains laced with narrow valleys, and the town of Mondragon (Arrasate in Basque) is nestled within one of them. The region is extraordinarily beautiful. The valley in which Mondragon lies is filled with factories, apartments, and a string of small towns that runs on for miles. I was amazed at the density of development along the valley floor.

As many know, Spain is in the midst of a major economic crisis, brought about by the same financial interests that have done so much damage to our own country. The country’s unemployment level is around 24-25%. One reason I wanted to go this year was to see how the Mondragon co-operatives were handling this crisis.

The Basque Country overall is in better shape. The region exports to Europe as a whole rather then focusing mostly on the Spanish market, and so is suffering much less. Their unemployment, I was told, was around 12%. And in the Mondragon co-operatives?

0%. That is ZERO. There are no unemployed cooperative members. This region is now the most prosperous in Spain, but before the cooperatives were created it was the poorest. It is hard to farm beautiful mountain scenery.

The Achievement
The transformation began in 1941 when Father Jose Arizmendiarrieta (usually called Father Arizmendi) was assigned to serve in the poverty stricken town of Mondragón. Franco was securely in power as a right wing dictator friendly with neighboring fascist regimes. Two years later Fr. Arizmendi started a small technical school (there were only 7000 people in Mondragon at the time). He used it to combine technical training with Catholic social teachings emphasizing the human side of production and our ethical immersion in society. The school was the incubator for all that happened afterwards.

Some years later, with five graduates from this school, Fr. Arizmendi established a small cooperative to make kerosene stoves. The enterprise prospered and gradually new cooperatives were formed. Father Arizmendi also established Caja Laboral, a credit union that served as the financial enabler for the expansion of Mondragon cooperatives as well as organizing its social welfare programs for members. The credit union was also a cooperative and now has over 390 branches throughout Spain. It has grown to become one of the country’s largest and most viable banks.

With the crucial support of Caja Laboral, the Mondragon cooperatives have grown to include over 80,000 worker owners of over 250 cooperatives. They include Eroski, a very large country wide retail and grocery chain, and the technical school, which has grown into Mondragon University.

All this has occurred in worker owned enterprises where top pay for managers and other skilled workers is never more than 6 times that of the lowest paid worker. (At one time it was 8 times at the bank, but I understand that it is now in keeping with the cooperatives as a whole.) Today Mondragon’s cooperatives are arranged in four areas: industry, finance, retail and knowledge. Each cooperative’s members own and direct the enterprise and choose and employ a managing director. Members have ultimate power over all basic decisions, including what to do with the profits.

The uniqueness of their economic organizations is reflected in their communities. While in Mondragon and neighboring towns I saw no gated communities, no mansions, and no slums. I never saw beggars, even during this time of crisis, whereas I have often heard about the frequency of beggars in Madrid and they are not unknown here in West Sonoma County. Instead, I saw some homes of usually modest size as well as many apartment blocks rarely more than five or six stories and factories and businesses seemingly on either end of the valley. The region seems solidly middle class.

Beyond Capitalism
Mondragon helps us distinguish capitalism from the market, which is an essential step to thinking clearly about the challenges and dangers facing our society here in America where the ruling elite has a powerful vested interest in making such a distinction invisible.

Capitalism is an economic system rooted in the market, but where capital rather than people are in charge. A person’s value to a capitalist business is entirely based on how they contribute to its maximizing its profit. In Mondragon’s cooperatives it is the other way around. Consider this capitalist example.

In Freeport, Illinois Mitt Romney’s vulture capitalist company, Bain, is currently closing a company that is profitable, competitive globally, and provides a decent living to 170 employees. Bain figures it can make even more money by moving the company’s activities to China. As a part of the process it is forcing its current employees to train their Chinese replacements, whom it flies in. As part of its operating strategy Bain was able to reduce severance pay for its American workers from 48 weeks to 26. The American workers will be laid off permanently by the end of the year. Merry Christmas, capitalist style.

At Mondragon the dynamic is completely different. As the cooperative enters into hard economic times companies having trouble have adopted three strategies. First, members work shorter hours, so that everyone keeps their job. Second, those nearing retirement are encouraged to take early retirement. The cooperative’s retirement and health packages are considerably better than those of Spain, and generous by any measure. Third, if a company must eventually close or radically downsize, workers are given positions in other cooperatives that are doing well, for the region is so diversified that some are growing even as others are failing. They are also given free training for new positions.

Times are hard in Mondragon today, but so far the cooperatives are proving more resilient and vastly more humane than capitalist companies that are quick to ruin lives and destroy towns in order to grab a few more bucks for their owners, who then prance around as “job creators.”

Let me be very clear here. Mondragon is a market economy. It encourages entrepreneurial innovation, indeed the cooperatives reportedly have the largest R&D centers in Europe, and there are no laws against people going into business for themselves. Some do. Other cooperatives are free to join or leave the Mondragon group. To be a member certain principles must be followed, such as the requiring no more than a 6X spread in worker incomes whereas in equivalent capitalist businesses managers pay themselves in the neighborhood of 400 times. So far as I can tell, there is nothing a ‘free market’ economist could object to and if Milton Friedman is correct and managers are trustees for investors’ money, here is serious evidence many are parasites and thieves.

Mondragon exists in a country with at least 24% unemployment and in a region with 12% unemployment, yet has an unemployment rate of 0%. Bain is forcing workers in a profitable enterprise to train their Chinese replacements and then go on unemployment with reduced benefits. At a time when sociopathy seems the guiding principle of most of America’s business elite the Mondragon example deserves to become widely known throughout this country.

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Worker-owned coops made in the U.S.A.

A new book compiled by Enrico Massetti entitled Cooperative: Made in USA: Worker-owned and consumer cooperatives in the USA may be of interest to you. You can read a long excerpt from it, see some videos, gain access to an extensive bibliography, and order it here. It includes information about both worker and consumer cooperatives. As a footnote, for all of you who read Italian, nine pages are also available online in that language as a PDF file. I haven’t ordered it yet but I plan to because it looks like an awesome job of compilation.

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California Co-op Conference 2013

The California Co-op Conference on April 5 & 6 on Wilshire Blvd.  in Los Angeles will celebrate cooperatives by sharing successes and providing the most effective ways to help strengthen and expand the cooperative movement.

Workshops will reveal how cooperatives revitalize and fortify local economies by creating jobs, housing, and locally owned businesses.  Attendees will learn how to start a new cooperative and how to develop and to strengthen their own cooperatives.  The conference offers an opportunity to engage with other cooperators and discuss ideas, experiences, and strategies. More information about the workshops including schedules can be found here.

The cost is around $200, depending on how soon you register. Check it out.

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Part V: Notes on a visit to the Mondragon worker-owner cooperative, Sept. 2012

By David and Lila Tresemer (www.MountainSeas.com.au and http://www.DavidandLilaTresemer.com)

Now for some observations outside of the congratulations for their successful economic model. We would like to speak about spiritual forces. David asked one of the managers, “As your movement was begun by a Catholic priest (Arizmendiarriete), did the success of this movement bring people to the Church?” Answer: “Yes, though many belonged to the Church already. But that has ended. Now only the elderly attend Church, except for funerals, when other people come. Now half of the weddings are in the Church, and half are ‘social.’” “Social” meant outside the Church in a public setting, where the focus is on …#2 in our list at the beginning of these notes. Mondragon has changed the old Biblical polarity “you can’t serve two masters, and must choose between God (spirit) and Mammon (money).” That comes from Gospel of Matthew Chapter 6, verse 24. The polarity has become Labor (humanity) versus Money.

After this visit to Mondragon and this conversation, I view this now as a three-some:

1. LABOR – Humanity – what we do with our time, our energy, our work, and our attention. The highest value here is freedom of expression. Work is meant to benefit and enhance a sane world.

2.MONEY– as capital. If you watch money closely, you realize that it functions as an a-moral force. It simply seeks places to grow, no matter what the method – organic food and weapons are only differentiated by their ability to make more money. The characterization in the Bible of money as expressing a negative spirit – Mammon – becomes clearer when you spend time at gatherings of investors, as David occasionally does. The values there are on clearing away all regulations that have been put into place in order to protect Humanity, in order for Money to grow more freely. You can understand these conferences as servants of money. The hyper-rich think that they control money, and occasionally realize that they are the servants to money. Mondragon realizes this and insists that “money is not the master – it is the tool.” The way they do this is through cooperatives, that is, the Labor factor above.

3. SPIRIT. When you begin to understand that there is a spirit of humanity and that there is a spirit of money, you look for the greater spiritual force behind the context for all of this. Call it Gaia, or call it Mother Mary, or call it The Virgin, or call it Jesus, or call it any number of things – and then ask what are the values of that Greater Picture, that includes the earth (#4 in our original list). Don’t settle for claims of spiritual prominence by holy wars, which are demonic spirits working with money to suppress Humanity.

We realized the importance of spirit near the end of our visit when we suddenly “woke up,” so to speak, from participation in the tour – hearing speakers, taking tours of buildings and factories, talking with people, etc. – to seeing our surroundings. A key piece came from one of the translators, who said, “People from Mondragon can easily work in China or Brazil for three months or more, if they see it as temporary. However, if you ask them to move their home from one Basque valley across the hills into another Basque valley, it is quite difficult for them to do.” Aha – we looked around us and could easily sense what we had missed before – the power of an angelic presence, what some people recognize as Spirit of Place, or the archangel who acts as the Folk Soul – and especially powerful here. When you see that the cooperative movement arises to ensure the connection of people with their community and PLACE, and you realize that the angel (or archangel) or that PLACE assists in the cooperative initiatives, you get a very different sense of how exportable this idea might be. For creating a successful cooperative is not just about applying a step-wise installation manual. It requires great clarity about the support you’re getting from your community, your geographical place, and your archangel.

Even if you can’t “see” archangels, you can sense these presences. We tested the waters with our group for conversation about this sort of thing and found soon that this was not territory in which others had much experience. Or they were shy, an unfortunate by-product of the monopoly that extreme religion has created on talk about Spirit.

I also wondered about congruency. Here are people working for years, building up a good retirement fund, and then there’s that last day that they leave the factory. Several people mentioned that they don’t look back. But if they were building or creating something congruent to their culture that they’re protecting, then you would find the elders hanging around the centers of production, just because they had a passion for it. It seems that the elders don’t come back to visit the factories for washing machines. Then I wondered, “Are washing machines congruent with any culture? In fact, aren’t they actually congruent with every culture – in that everyone in a ‘developed country’ uses washing machines? Or… is there a way that they could become more congruent?” These are outstanding questions at the end of our journey.

Rudolf Steiner recommended a three-fold social organization that included:

THINKING – the sphere of culture and ideas, where the key word is freedom of expression, and the currency streams from ideas.

FEELING – the social or middle sphere of political rights, what Mondragon has cultivated in the ownership by workers of their production, and their rights in voting in their cooperatives. The key word here is equality, and the currency streams from the heart.

WILLING – the economic sphere where the key word is brotherhood/sisterhood, working together for the common good. The currency can be money, though more truthfully the currency is human energy employed in work towards a goal.

Mondragon has been very successful, though imperfectly as they admit, in realizing a balance of these three.

As we watch the imbalances in the several models that we presented, in the primacy of OWNERS in Part I and the primacy of MONEY in this Part V, we see that this experiment in human organization has much to recommend it, and we wish it great success – both in the valleys of the Basque country and the other places in the world where it’s being tried.

End of notes from our trip of September 2012

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Part IV. Notes on a visit to the Mondragon worker-owner cooperative, September 2012

by David and Lila Tresemer (www.MountainSeas.com.au and http://www.DavidandLilaTresemer.com)

We were a bit surprised when we attended the university to discover how little they understood about history, culture and context. Mondragon may face the challenge of being too isolated from world affairs and awareness of global concerns outside their own geography. One of the members of our visiting group said that the first response to this system in the United States would be, “Oh, that’s just Marxist,” with the subtext that it’s communist and will take away your rights and make your life more miserable. Actually, in Mondragon the high value on freedom underpins the whole system – freedom from the whims of overpaid executives at big companies. However, we understood how this knee-jerk reaction of “Marxist!” would occur.

So we asked a student, “How do you respond to criticism that this system of cooperatives is Marxist?”

The student looked puzzled, “Who?”

“Karl Marx,” we said, “social theorist of the 19th century?”

Blank look.

We asked further, “Do they teach about Karl Marx or the philosophy of the relation of labor and capital?” The student shook her head, “Sorry, I haven’t heard of him, and no they don’t.”

Unbelieving that these students hadn’t been prepared to respond to the criticism of “Marxist!,” we asked three more students. Same thing. They had never heard of him, or any of the other philosophers who have wrestled with these questions. They simply thought that the worker-owner cooperative ideology stood on its own.

We realize that one’s philosophy of work has to be governed by your sense of “where is this leading?” It seems that the western ideal pictures a rise to the high echelons of the corporate world, bonuses of stock options and baskets of money – then a private jet, a gated mansion in a gated community likely in the Caribbean, with staff who are not uppity because they come from a poor neighborhood and can easily be replaced. The ideal and goal of Mondragon is to ensure a vibrant and healthy community of human beings putting their efforts into work that provides their families with an adequate income while producing a product useful to other people in the world.

The question: “Is it possible to have a people-focused structure that can be competitive and resilient?” Mondragon answers, “Yes!”

Tours of interested people are now coming from all over the world. Because, no matter what the reactions are – “Marxist!” or “Hidden Capitalist!” – this system creates jobs, maintains jobs, and solidifies whole communities.

We may have gotten some of our facts incorrect, and there are plenty of other facts to learn about their systems. Several managers repeated, “This isn’t paradise, and we’re not perfect,” same words, which suggests that the central group devised this response to criticism. What they have is not paradise, but very hopeful.

More in the last part, Part V.

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Next Trip to Mondragon and a New One to Bologna, Italy

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By: Georgia Kelly, Director of the Praxis Peace Institute

Dear Praxis Friends

Many of you have asked about Mondragón and whether we are doing another trip this year. We are, and the dates have been set.
 
Mondragón Cooperatives Seminar & Tour
 
September 8 – 14, 2013 – Mondragón, Spain
This seminar and tour offers an in-depth experience of the most successful consortium of cooperatives in the world.  Praxis Peace Institute has organized 4 seminars in Mondragon and this one will be the fifth. Each one has been a little different because at Mondragón, they are always improving, always responding to the needs of worker-owners, always anticipating the moves needed to maintain the 0% unemployment level that is their commitment and achievement. If you have been thinking about participating in one of these seminars, hesitate no longer! This is an extraordinary opportunity to experience viable and inspiring alternatives to corporate capitalism.
Program ends in the afternoon of Sept. 13th.
Details of these seminar and tour are on the Praxis website: http://www.praxispeace.org
Click on the link in the Mondragón Project area.
 
Deposits are not required this early, but by March 1, 2013, you can secure your place by making a $500 deposit. If the euro/dollar exchange rate does  not change much, the prices should remain the same as last year.
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Just Added! – Bologna, Italy
 
Praxis Seminar & Tour of Cooperatives in the Emilia Romagna region
 
September 16 – 22, 2013
Program begins with a reception on the evening of Sept. 16th.
This year, for the first time, Praxis Peace Institute is organizing a seminar and tour of the cooperatives in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. We will be headquartered in Bologna, Italy and stay at a hotel that is walking distance to the University of Bologna where our seminars will be held. Our seminars will be conducted by world renown Italian economists who specialize in cooperatives and socially-just economic practices and models.
The tours of worker-owned businesses in the region will include a ceramics factory, an industrial coop, a coop umbrella organization, a social coop, and other businesses. We will learn how the coops are organized, the unique economics of Emilia Romagna region, their banks, and the role of the coops in the time of recession.
Our hotel is located in the center of Bologna, about one-and-a-half blocks to the university where our seminars are held. It’s within easy walking distance of many excellent restaurants and cafes. Bologna is centrally located in Italy. Florence is a 35 minutes by train, and Venice is a little less than one-and-a-half hours by train. So, it is easy to add on these two cities to your trip.
Information will be posted on our website soon, but this is an early announcement to Praxis members and people who have participated in our previous Mondragón seminar/tour.
IMPORTANT! Both groups are limited to 24 people each. The price for this seminar will be slightly higher than the Mondragón seminar.
Prices for both seminars will be announced by February 1, 2013
A $500 deposit will hold your place in either seminar. And, we have an excellent travel agent that gets the best deals and coordinates our arrival times.
Georgia Kelly, Director
Praxis Peace Institute
P.O. Box 523, Sonoma, CA 95476
707-939-2973
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