Our larger cooperative movement is not without its flaws – its national power structure reflects that of society’s. Most often, the people at decision-making tables are not the immediate beneficiaries or users of cooperatives, but executive managers with industry-specific experience who are new to cooperation and its set of principles and values. Our cooperative movement’s practices of democracy have atrophied – “owning” and “controlling” a cooperative, for many, only means getting to vote for who serves on the Board of Directors – which is much like our ineffective national electoral system. This is an uber-representative form of democracy that does not empower or engage the people at the center of the cooperative movement.
A key element of our programming is teaching and sharing methods of participatory process, which is how we are working to bring true democracy back into cooperative spaces one generation at a time. USACYC knows that democracy is #notjustvoting – we use the following tools to strengthen our democratic practice: