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Co-op Culture


Co-op Culture

By Brandon Moss

What is it that makes a co-op vibrant with energy, enthusiasm and the feeling of home? What makes others struggle with conflict, frustration and discouraged volunteers? The difference is likely its culture.

Culture is the combined behavior of people in a group. It is present in every family, group of friends, neighborhood, city, and country. Culture can make members want to volunteer and be a part of the fun or compel members to quit, stay in their apartment or simply move out.

As a national organization we are beginning to discuss the critical role that Co-op Culture has in the success of our organization. We see co-ops with members who are excited to be a part of the Co-op family. On the other hand, there are situations where happy, enthusiastic members are discouraged by verbal attacks from other members and leaders. This is not the CSI way.

So how do we fan the flames of the cooperative spirit and create that feeling of home in every co-op across the country? How do we foster the embers of cooperation in the co-ops where the cooperative spirit has eroded away leaving only a few worn out volunteers to carry on?

First, it’s important to know that a positive co-op culture doesn’t happen by accident. It requires an intentional approach by members, leaders and staff. Co-op members and staff must consider the impact on Co-op Culture of every action and decision.

So how can a co-op impact its culture? Well, there are many factors in creating a vibrant Co-op culture which future discussions will need to consider. However, here are a couple tips on how great cultures are created.

First, it’s critical that each co-op elect and appoint leaders who will create a positive culture: members who are kind, hard-working, and enthusiastic about the cooperative spirit. Second, it’s important that co-ops work to create a wonderful member experience. This means celebrating every act of volunteerism, cultivating an attitude of gratitude, and working hard to make every person feel special.

So take some time today to consider what you can do make your co-op a more positive place to live. You may be the difference maker that brings a vibrant, enthusiastic culture to your co-op.

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