I often wonder if we might try operating as a member coop. The use of the space is so diverse among members, which is good for sharing costs. But that can make decision-making very confusing. I would like to know if operating as a coop would help.
It’s possible to be a 501©3 and be a self identifying coop. http://reic.uwcc.wisc.edu/issues/
Scott Heymen of Human Services Coalition does this type of consulting for very fair rates.
What decision making has been confusing?
how best to use, maintain, and improve the space
What is the difference in decision making between what we are doing now as as a member coop? I’m not familiar enough with the structure of member cooperatives to tell how things would change.
Xanthe, are you thinking workplace democracy-style decision making, consensus building, or something else?
I’m thinking I’d like to learn more from a consultant.
Can you articulate more specifically the problems that you see that need solving? Why do you think we need to change? And if you don’t know already how a coop would solve those problems, then what other changes have you considered?
Looking over the information you have provided at the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, I come to one of two conclusions: either our current organization and governing structure is essentially a cooperative already, or there are fundamental differences regarding intent that prevent us from being a cooperative. The main things I see different is that (a) we are not member-owned, (b) we do not provide a return on our member’s investments, and © we don’t call ourselves a cooperative.
If you look at the “Cooperative Principles” at http://www.uwcc.wisc.edu/whatisacoop/ I find it hard to see where we fall short. We have a voluntary and open memberships, we have democratic member control, we have member economic participation, we have autonomy and independence, we provide education and training, we have concern for our community, and to the degree that we can or know about, we cooperate with other similar makerspaces. So… what would “becoming a cooperative” entail?
I’m not suggesting becoming a coop. I’m suggesting meting with a consultant to see if it’s a good fit for us.