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
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
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
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.