About Us

Cooperative Roots builds sustainable, affordable housing, empowers people to create democratic cooperatives, and strengthens local communities through shared resources and education.

We are incorporated as a nonprofit and our bylaws define our structure.

Cooperative Roots was founded by members of the University Students Cooperative Association in 2003. The organization was founded using a nonprofit housing cooperative model, following the seven cooperative principles (see below.) A home in Berkeley was obtained with the assistance of numerous organizations and more have been aquired since. Extensive construction projects have employed innovative green building technologies and salvaging techniques. Today we continue to explore ways to carry out our mission.

A rough chronology of our development can be viewed here.

What is a Cooperative?
A cooperative, or co-op, is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.

Cooperative Values
Cooperative are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.

Seven Principles of Cooperatives:
1: Voluntary and Open Membership - Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
2: Democratic Member Control - Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.
3: Member Economic Participation - Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
4: Autonomy and Independence - Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
5: Education, Training, and Information - Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public -- particularly young people and opinion leaders -- about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
6: Cooperation Among Co-operatives - Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
7: Concern for Community - While focusing on member needs, co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.