What is a Co-op?

Co-ops are in business to provide what their owners and community want, and they are democratically controlled by thousands of owners. Cooperatives keep economic benefits within the community through creating jobs and, most importantly, supporting local producers and suppliers. 

Common Ground is part of a larger, international community of co-ops that are an important force for economic democracy. There are consumer co-ops (food, housing, rural electric power, credit unions), producer co-ops (farming, fishing) and worker co-ops (carpenters, mechanics). There are co-ops for day care, health care, farm supplies, insurance, tourism, and more. A primary co-op has human beings for members; a secondary co-op has whole co-ops for members. It is estimated that more than 750 million people in the world are members/owners of one or more co-ops. Common Ground is a primary consumer co-op.

Today co-ops around the world, including ours, are guided by seven principles. These principles help us remember who we are, what we are trying to do, and how we’ve agreed to do it.

1. Voluntary and Open Membership

2. Democratic Member Control

3. Member Economic Participation

4. Autonomy and Independence

5. Education, Training and Information

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives

7. Concern for Community