“It was great to be with so many like-minded people and to hear that others struggle with the same things. It really helped raise my enthusiasm for this adventure,” Mike Vlasman, Sam Greer Co-op.
That’s what members of nine Vancouver co-ops discovered at a recent meeting to discuss what it’s like to live in “small-er” co-op communities. The Jan. 25 gathering at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House gave the group of 17 co-op residents a chance to network, learn and tackle questions unique to small co-ops. They even talked about what “small” means, given the diversity of co-ops throughout B.C. and across the country.
There was a lot of enthusiasm and conversation in the room even before the meeting got underway, with co-op members excited to learn about all they shared and hearing solutions to common challenges.
CHF BC staff were on hand to facilitate the discussion, which kicked off with members listing the advantages and challenges of living in their small co-op communities.
From survey results and the in-person discussions, the top challenge noted by members was consistently finding enough members able to take on co-op governance responsibilities. This was especially the case in the smallest co-ops. Participants also noted it could sometimes be difficult to be able to pay for outside help.
The advantages were close-knit communities and, when all goes well, a great sense of community, with strong support among members and feelings of safety.
Members finished their discussions with a look at connecting and upholding the sixth international co-op principle of “co-operation among co-operatives” by finding ways to collaborate between their co-ops in ways that might help them resolve some of their challenges.
Ideas included connecting via email or an online platform. Some also expressed interest in exploring sharing services on a small scale, including holding education sessions together.
“It was great to be with so many like-minded people and to hear that others struggle with the same things. It really helped raise my enthusiasm for this adventure,” said Mike Vlasman of Sam Greer Co-op.
“I really enjoyed the day,” said Kathryn Sheps of Yew Street Co-op. “I learned a lot and left more committed to my housing co-op.”
CHF BC staff shared the ways that they can support smaller co-ops with our Group Buying program, Education and Planning.
The members wrapped up the meeting with talk about the future, the changes coming to their neighbourhood and a walking tour of some of the local housing co-ops that included visits at Community Alternatives and Kitsun that gave everyone an even better sense of how individual co-ops have created community.
Small or large, what makes your co-op special? Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for all other “small-er” co-ops, watch for an invitation to attend a similar meet up in your community.