5 COOL COOPERATIVES

   MONDRAGON CORPORATION                                                        

 Located in the Basque Region of Spain, this federation of worker cooperatives employs over 70,000 workers in the areas of finance, industry, retail, and knowledge. The co-ops operate on a humanist concept of business that emphasizes participation and solidarity in a shared business culture. Often cited by Noam Chomsky, Mondragon is one of the most well known cooperative companies in the world. According to Iñigo Ucín. President of Mondragon’s General Council, "Mondragon proposes a business model with a difference, based on inter-company co-operation, people playing a leading role and commitment to developing our environment. It’s a fair, equitable and supportive proposal, and we sum it up in our slogan “Humanity at Work”. "  

 BLUE GRASS ENERGY

Blue Grass Energy cooperative has been around over seventy years and serves more than 55,000 members in 23 counties in central and north-central Kentucky from Berea to the Ohio River. Organized as a not-for-profit distribution cooperative, Blue Grass Energy still thrives on its original mission of improving life for its members. In the late 1930s 9 out of 10 rural Kentucky homes did not have electricity, so farmers and rural residents pooled their resources to help provide electricity to areas underserved by existing utilities companies.

 JUST COFFEE COOPERATIVE – FAIR TRADE ORGANIC COFFEE             

Located in Madison, Wisconsin, the Just Coffee Cooperative was founded to work Zapatista coffee farmers in Chiapas, Mexico. Initially organized by individuals with no business or coffee roasting training, Just Coffee is now available from Portland to San Francisco to New Orleans to Lexington, Kentucky. According to their website, “[e]very time we buy something we support the system that was used to get it to us. We want to get you the best tasting cup of coffee imaginable and to transparently show you where it came from, who grew it, and how your choice affects them in a real way. Through a total commitment to complete quality– from the farmer to final cup– we continue to redefine how the coffee industry can work.”                                                                                            

 THE GREENBELT CO-OP SUPERMARKET & PHARMACY

The Greenbelt Co-Op Supermarket located in Greenbelt, Maryland was established in 1984. The co-op charges a low-cost, one-time membership fee of $10 but, even non-members can shop at the supermarket and pharmacy. Each year the co-op gives away $1,000 to deserving community groups. According to the co-op website, “over 8,000 members own and control this non-profit organization. The Co-op offers its customers a variety of traditional grocery items, natural and organic foods, beer and wine, a pharmacy and special events such as wine tastings, foods samplings and wellness programs."                                      

 HAMILTON FARMERS MARKET

Selling only locally grown, non-GMO produce, this cooperative Farmers Market is located in Hamilton, Montana. This co-op maintains the goals of providing a venue where community and visitors come together and socialize, to stimulate the local economy, and to promote awareness about food, nutrition, health, and cooperative values. On their website, the cooperative says what makes them unique is the "rule that vendors must live in Ravalli County and their fine products, whether grown or handmade, are created in Montana.” The Farmers Market has more than 130 member vendors.

 

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