Monday, March 25, 2013

Speaking of Co-ops, Dada Maheshvarananda

I’ve always found it strange that our political democracy is oblivious to economic democracy. Maybe it’s because co-ops aren’t well known or understood.  After more than 35 years of co-op experience, I’m invested in exploring and developing the highest potential of co-ops.

One of my earliest inspirations was Mondragon, a group of cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain. Started in the 1950’s to create jobs, it has become so successful that it now provides fair wages, job security and health care benefits through worker, consumer, producer and banking co-ops. It is a community of people making a better living with each other.

Co-ops create a sense of community because the members come together for a common purpose. Co-ops are not motivated by profit, resulting in a shift in the overall economy: jobs rather than profit, local suppliers rather than shipped in goods, quality products rather than cheaper products.
Someone who shares a co-op vision with me is Dada Maheshvarananda.  He advocates for economic change to improve quality of life in Latin America.  His idea is to create an ethical and fair economic structure, and co-ops are a big part of his economic plan.  Cooperative ownership of the majority of businesses would shift economic and political control away from big business. The focus would change from “how can a few get richer?” to “how can everyone have a better life?”

Dada’s economic model encompasses political, social, ecological, and spiritual aspects. He is the director of the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela.  Prout was the brainchild of S. R. Sarkar, who devised a plan to reorganize society and the economy for the welfare of everyone.
Dada Maheshvarananda will be speaking about his book, After Capitalism, Economic Democracy in Action, on April 1, at 7 pm, at the Friends Meeting House, 4500 Kensington Ave.  Come out and hear what he has to say.

Here’s a link to the event page on Facebook:!/events/574704812542446/?fref=ts

Cheryl Marschak, Richmond Food Co-op Steering Committee



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