Cooperative Resources

Welcome to the Buffalo Mountain Coop cooperative resource page!

What is a Cooperative?

Co-operatives bring people together in a democratic and equal way. Whether the members are the customers, employees, users or residents, co-operatives are democratically managed by the ‘one member, one vote’ rule. Members share equal voting rights regardless of the amount of capital they put into the enterprise. They allow people to take control of their economic future and, because they are not owned by shareholders, the economic and social benefits of their activity stay in the communities where they are established.

Co-operative economic development, characterized by the search for means of production and efficient exchanges based on co-operation, is there to improve people’s lives and look after the environment. This is far for being a marginal phenomenon, one in every six people on the planet are co-operators. 

From the International Co-operative Alliance

Cooperative Associations and Networks

  • National Cooperative Business Association
    • NCBA’s mission is to develop, advance, and protect cooperative enterprise. Their work highlights the impact that cooperatives have in the economic success of communities around the world.
  • International Co-operative Alliance
    • The International Cooperative Alliance is a non-profit international association established in 1895 to advance the cooperative model.  The International Cooperative Alliance works with global and regional governments and organisations to create the legislative environments that allow cooperatives to form and grow.  Towards the public, the International Cooperative Alliance promotes the importance of the cooperatives’ values-based business model.
  • Cooperative Grocer Network
    • CGN is a nonprofit trade association intent on strengthening all retail food co-ops by a creating a community of cooperators who can develop and share their best resources and practices.  CGN operates online discussion groups and an online library of resources, and publishes the bimonthly trade magazine, Cooperative Grocer.
  • Neighboring Food Co-op Association
    • NFCA is a federation of over 35 food co-ops and start-up initiatives across New England and New York that are working together toward a shared vision of a thriving co-operative economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable food system and a vibrant community of co-operative enterprise.  Buffalo Mountain Food Coop is a proud member of NFCA!
  • North American Students of Cooperation
    • Since 1968, NASCO and its affiliates have been working with students, worker-owners, activists, and community members who are interested in applying cooperative principles to meet their needs and fulfill their various missions.

Cooperative Values and Principles  

Cooperatives around the world generally operate according to the same core values and principles, adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance in 1995. Cooperatives trace the roots of these principles to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844.

Cooperative Values

Self-help: recognizing that people are interdependent an benefit from joining their individual efforts with others to achieve their dreams and improve their lives.

Self-responsibility: each of us is responsible for our own actions and the impact of those actions on others and ourselves. Groups are also responsible for the impact of their actions on individuals, other groups and society in general.

Democracy: the human spirit is liberated by democratic processes and structures, through which control is shared and each person shares in the ability to influence decisions. Every person has the right to have a say and influence all decisions that affect their lives. Democracy is not limited to the action of the state but extends to all decisions that have an impact on the lives of people.

Equality: Every person is worthwhile in his or her own right and had the right to have his or her life, dignity and abilities respected and valued equally

Equity: Each person should be treated fairly and have access to all that is necessary to live a meaningful and productive life.

Solidarity: Shared coordinated action between individuals and groups is the best way to create a society and economy characterized by equity, equality and mutual self-help. After participating in an open democratic process to determine a position or course of action, members support it. Solidarity limits our individual freedom only to the extent required by a real respect for the dignity of others being equal to our own.

Honesty: reliable honest dealings with members, customers, suppliers and the community rest on an appreciation for the dignity of people and are a key foundation of trust.

Openness: honesty reaches full meaning only with the open disclosure of information about products and services, the way they are organized and presented and the operations and governance of the business.

Social Responsibility: The interdependence of people and the recognition of their dignity leads to a realization that individual and group action has profound effects on individuals, groups and their relationships.

Caring For Others: Caring implies not just to charity but active concern about how to act and create structures so as to enable others to realize their potential and live full and satisfying lives.

The Cooperative Principles

Voluntary and Open Membership: ​Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

Democratic Member Control: ​Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.

Members’ Economic Participation: ​Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.

Autonomy and Independence: ​Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.

Education, Training and Information: ​Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.

Cooperation among Cooperatives: ​Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

Concern for Community: ​While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.