What is a Co-op?
A Co-op is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Cooperatives make business decisions based on their values. Self-help, self-responsibility, equality, equity, and solidarity are the guiding values that forward cooperative organizations. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative owners believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.
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 housing, daycare, 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.
Developed over almost two centuries of cooperative businesses, Co-ops around the world are guided by eight principles by which they put their values into practice.