[TheThinkTank] THE LIST
joshuahof at gmail.com
Sat May 23 09:34:00 PDT 2015
Angel, et al.,
I appreciate the distinction you make between *co-ops* and *collectives.* It
sounds like your shop is innovating with the power relationships that
surround decision making. I'm excited to see how you grow.
It's my understanding that capitalism is a firstly a description of our
social relationships, and secondly our economic system. Because it's not
just our economy but society itself that is capitalistic (in reality the
two are the same) living a true alternative is actually impossible. We
can aspire to take anti-capitalist actions by experimenting with new
non-hierarchical systems for the production/distribution of goods and
services. I'm interested in exploring those alternatives.
To be clear, I don't think that hierarchical power structures are very
innovative. Which is why I'm less interested in traditional non-profits and
more interested in collectives and co-ops that may use a 501c status to
explore what's possible. As long as co-op are exploring ways of
distributing decision making power than I think they qualify for my
purposes. What do you think?
What I want to avoid supporting are people using a 501c status to "recycle"
bikes for a personal profit (an astonishing number of people) I'm also wary
of the religious non-profits using bikes as an evangelical tool (also a
surprisingly large number).
All that said, THE LIST is getting a lot of request from charities and
educational non-profits. It's difficult for me to know who is actually
innovating with social relationships and who is just filling a local
material need. Both are important. Suggestions?
The votes so far:
Include ALL 501c bike related orgs - 6
Include only collectives, etc - 2
On Thu, May 21, 2015 at 7:11 PM, Angel York <aniola at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Joshua,
> Both of the bike collectives I have volunteered at are consensus-based
> organizations. The Davis Bike Collective spent a year putting together its
> by-laws and running them past a lawyer to ensure that the board had no
> formal decision-making power, but was instead beholden to the decisions
> made by the core volunteers. I believe the legal definition of a co-op has
> to do with purchasing power, where as a collective we didn't have to have
> that orientation and could instead focus on our priority, which was helping
> people learn how to fix bikes. Food co-ops are usually co-ops because they
> are about *buying* food. So I'm not sure that a co-op is actually less
> capitalist, and given what I hear you saying you value, I would be also
> asking how the various organizations are making their decisions. Also,
> have you checked the wiki page of community bicycle organizations? It has
> a long-standing list including the criteria that I believe more or less
> helps guide who might be interested in participating in, say, this list.
> The more lists the better! I look forward to thr day when there are so
> many lists of community bike organizations that you need lists of lists to
> keep track of them! Thanks for creating one such list!
> Angel York
> On May 21, 2015 1:17 PM, "Joshua Hoffman" <joshuahof at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Thanks to Eric, Paul, Jeff, Kevin, and Matt for taking the time to
>> engage. Also thanks to everyone who shared new shops to add. I'll get on it
>> (that includes you Jeff). It turns out I was only subscribed to the "list"
>> email that arrives once a week so I missed a few of your replies.
>> The line is fine but its clear. I agree that cooperatives and community
>> shops are often different. I also agree that for-profit shops can engage in
>> so called "non-market" activities. My main criteria is DIY
>> (free/barter/cheap). If there is a second criteria it's a *free* EAB
>> program. My not-completely-arbitrary preferences in descending order are
>> cooperatives > community shops > service-oriented for-profit. That logic is
>> based on my assumption that orgs designed with cooperative structures will
>> find engaging in non-market behaviors easier. When we share the
>> risk/rewards of acting there is less incentive to shirk, pass important
>> ethical decisions "up the ladder", or use the "bottom line" as an excuse.
>> Yes, cooperative work can be messy and slow, but it can also liberate. For
>> many people their experience with a cooperative bike shop is the first time
>> in their lives when their voice mattered.
>> My reason for creating the list was to get new ideas for how people doing
>> community bike work engage with their communities. Shops that focus on
>> sales, or who use sales as their measure of success are going to engage in
>> a different manner that is less interesting to my aims. We can start
>> another thread on cooperatives if anyone wants. ;) If anyone wants to
>> learn more about worker directed non-profits there is a webinar next week.
>> PLEASE NOTE: I'm getting most of my information by snooping through
>> websites and facebook pages. If I missed a shop or if I misunderstood what
>> a shops/orgs mission please correct me. I think Eric pointed out that
>> Uptown Bikes is for-profit (WB and Blackstone are both on the list). You
>> can leave a comment on this google.doc
>> - Joshua
>> On Thu, May 21, 2015 at 12:01 PM, Joshua Hoffman <joshuahof at gmail.com>
>>> Here is a searchable document
>>> if you want to check for your shop.
>>> NOTE: So far THE LIST <https://www.facebook.com/lists/792013340883812>
>>> only includes shops that run cooperatively or at very least include some
>>> DIY elements. I've done this for a specific reason.... I'm an
>>> anti-capitalist. I'm interested in how bikes build community and engage
>>> people in acts of cooperation and self-determination. There are many
>>> "non-profit" shops that sell used bikes for high prices because they
>>> believe it will "raise the perceived value" of bikes. There is nothing
>>> inherently wrong with this approach except that I'm not interested in money
>>> or perceived value. I'm interested in more people learning to do more
>>> things for themselves and for others. Cooperatives have the potential to
>>> lower costs by focusing on mission rather than profit. They can also
>>> transform the social relationships between humans by substituting hierarchy
>>> for equality. The benefits of encouraging DIY are obvious.
>>> What do you all think? Should I include all "non-profit" bike shop
>>> regardless of their mission? What are the arguments for/against?
>>> On Wed, May 20, 2015 at 6:52 PM, Joshua Hoffman <joshuahof at gmail.com>
>>>> I've put together a Facebook list of all the community bike shops who's
>>>> pages I could find. 133 in total from around the world. This list is
>>>> constantly turning up amazing stories and new insights (lots of job
>>>> opportunities as well).
>>>> Please let me know if I need to add other shops.
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