Its co-operatives fortnight, and its official – we are now a coop!

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This week Co-operative Fortnight begins, two weeks of events and activities across the country to share and celebrate the successes and achievements of the co-operative sector in the UK.

Co-operatives are businesses owned and run by their members, not managers and distant shareholders. Members, such as customers or workers, have a say over how the business is run, as well as a share of the profits. Co-operatives are led by values such as equality, democracy and concern for the community, which means they can play a crucial role in building a more equal, democratic and sustainable economy we need.

Oxford has a rich history of co-operation, as well as a small but thriving co-operative sector today. On Tuesday this week, at a radio listening event, we learned about the vital role co-operatives used to play in supporting working class communities to survive throughout the 1900s. Wednesday saw the launch of a new map, created by the Solidarity Economy Association, that shows us what Oxford’s co-operative and solidarity economy looks like today.

Indeed many members of the CAG network such as Talking Shop, Flos: The place in the park, Transition by Design and The Children’s Allotment are co-operatives. And more recently the City Council have created a ‘Co-operative Champion’ position, held by Councillor Richard Howlett to help grow and strengthen the co-operative sector in Oxford.

As part of co-operatives fortnight, The CAG Project is excited to announce, that The CAG Network is now registered as an independent, democratically run and cooperatively owned network. What this means in practice is that key strategic decisions about the work our team do and the future of our network are decided by board members that are democratically elected by the groups in our network. As a network that is continuously trying to create the future we want to see, it felt important to embody the values of democracy and equality through the way our network is structured and run, we wanted to give our members ownership and agency, and as far as we know we are one of the first place based networks in the UK to do so. This is a very exciting step forwards for our network, and we will be celebrating next week at our first AGM.