Help and advice sought for starting a Co-operative


#1

Starting Up

I’ve been doing background research before i start my next adventure.

I lived in, and helped run Housing Co-ops back in the 90’s, and i know there has been a lot of changes in the law since then.

I’ve also made several mistakes when running businesses in the past, and i want to avoid those pitfalls this time around.

This time i want to make a different set of mistakes. :smiley:

Any help or advice about what i should watch out for, will be appreciated.


Personal Recommendations for Legal Advisors sought for discussing Rulesets for Co-op
#2

My standard bit of initial advice is:

  1. Complete this Select a Structure survey tool from Co-ops UK (often useful to do so in conjunction with this old paper version too (.pdf) as it is better as explaining what the questions asked actually mean!

  2. Read the Do-ocracy Handbook - it’s the best, clearest and most up to date guide to UK legal structures (although Co-ops UK’s Simply Legal also very good, as is Keeping It Legal (.pdf) - I used to recommend them both before the Do-ocracy Handbook was published).

Note to self: must remember to suggest again to Co-ops UK that they add such info to the online version too!)


#3

But also check out:


#4

What sort of co-op would you like to start? :slight_smile:


#5

initially i want to create a FabLab Co-op, to run and maintain a FabLab for use by it’s members.

I would like for this FabLab to be made solely from Open-Source HardWare.

Yes, the initial tool-set can come from proprietary sources, but the long-term aim, is to build a Seed FabLab that can be used to make other Seed FabLab’s.


#6

FabLab is short for Fabrication Laboratory. It’s a workshop using digital fabrication tools to make things from a wide range of materials.

The basic list of the equipment can be found here, https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1U-jcBWOJEjBT5A0N84IUubtcHKMEMtndQPLCkZCkVsU/pub?single=true&gid=0&output=html


#7

The original FabLab in MIT cost around $150,000-$250,000 to build in 2001/2002.

10 years later a group of 4 artists in Holland, decided to build a FabLab.

It cost them 5000Euros.

http://fablabamersfoort.nl/en/page/fablab-instructable-0

And that was 7 years ago.

The price-point of the hardware continues to go down, and the base specs for the hardware are continuing to rise. :smiley:


#8

It’s when you add in a basic wood-working, and, metal-working set-up, that changes really start to take place.

That’s when the range of possibilities starts to expand exponentially.

We can make the tools to make windmills for producing electricity, battery banks for storing the energy, planters for growing increased crop yields, modular greenhouses for getting another increase in crop yields, bio-digesters for making fertiliser and tankable methane from food waste, CNC machines for larger digital manufacturing from sheets of plywood and sheet steel, plant and equipment for creating bio-diesel, and, components for modular buildings.

All based upon open-source designs, so they’re freely available for everybody.

All made using stock materials.

We’ve had the tools and the technical capabilities to feed, clothe, house, educate,and give medical care to everyone on the planet, since the 1850’s.

It just hasn’t been done.

This is a social problem, and you cannot solve a social problem via a technological solution.

When faced with a problem, my first instinct is to build something to solve the problem.

What i want to do, is to empower everyone to be able to build the tools for themselves.

This will have to include the templates, and the legal tools to allow people to create co-operative structures to manage, and maintain the infrastructure that they collectively own.


#9

Are you aware of Open Source Ecology (OSE), founded by Marcin Jakubowski, he is working on a Global Village Construction Set, “a set of 50 most important machines that it takes for modern life to exist – everything from a tractor, to an oven, to a circuit maker. Marcin and his team are producing open source blueprints – so that anyone can build and maintain machines at a fraction of what it costs today”.


#10

OSE are great.

Closer to home there are already loads of maker spaces (including a FabLab) in London, see e.g. http://openworkshopnetwork.com/

Some of these are co-ops too, or very co-operative/ collaborative in nature if not an actual co-op (e.g. London Hackspace).

These three are actually co-operative/ community owned:

And London’s biggest maker space by far, Building Bloqs, whilst not a co-op is a CIC and member-led.

I’m not sure where you’d like to create your space but by far the biggest cost in London will be the cost of the space itself. London Hackspace have this very informative cost of hacking pie chart that over 60% of their costs is rent (and now they’re having to find somewhere new, I guess because the rent has been put up and is now utterly unaffordable).


#11

Chris: Yes, i’m aware of OSE. :smiley:

They are one of my sources of inspiration. :smiley:

Josef:

Closer to home there are already loads of maker spaces (including a FabLab) in London, see e.g. http://openworkshopnetwork.com/

Yes, i’m a member of their forums, and their mailing list. While i personally know some of their members, i still haven’t been able to get to one of the regular meet-ups.

Some of these are co-ops too, or very co-operative/ collaborative in nature if not an actual co-op (e.g. London Hackspace).

I’ve been a member of London Hackspace for nearly 8 years. I helped build out version 2.0 of the workshop in the third venue that we had, and i personally built the first set-up for bicycle maintenance & repair, and stocked that with the spare components that i had available.

i also started the work on welding equipment, which led them to have arc, MIG, and TIG welding equipment; was the main driver for making the metal-casting equipment; built every version of the charcoal furnaces we used, https://wiki.london.hackspace.org.uk/view/Project:GingeryFurnace , and built/wombled various versions of the materials storage that they were using.

I was also one of the maintainers for the mini-lathe, and i’m still learning how to build CNC machine tools. :smiley:

I’m still helping them, but while the Hackspace is a great prototyping workshop, it doesn’t really work for doing production runs. Shared workshops will always have this problem, which is why i’m working on my own workshop space elsewhere, that’s more aimed with the manufacturing/production focus.

These three are actually co-operative/ community owned:

Remakery

RARA

South London Hackspace

Thank you. I haven’t yet visited the SLMS, or the Remakery, and i hadn’t even heard of RARA. :smiley:

And London’s biggest maker space by far, Building Bloqs, whilst not a co-op is a CIC and member-led.

I hadn’t looked at the Building Bloqs website for a few years. Their membership options have changed from the last time i looked. I’ll give them a shout. TY.

I’m not sure where you’d like to create your space but by far the biggest cost in London will be the cost of the space itself. London Hackspace have this very informative cost of hacking pie chart that over 60% of their costs is rent (and now they’re having to find somewhere new, I guess because the rent has been put up and is now utterly unaffordable).

The London hackspace had to move as their 5-year lease had come to an end, and the landlord didn’t want to renew. The landlord’s original plan was to boot everyone out, and demolish the building. I think they planned to build some luxury flats on the Hackney Road… :smiley:

But, yes, the primary energy-sink for the Hackspace was in the rent for the building.

The trustees of the hackspace are currently in discussion with landlords about properties at the moment. I’ll shout here, when i know more.

Also, Josef, i saw that you are down as being one of the people in London to contact about the OSE Europe in the UK. What’s been happening?


#12

Wow @BillySmith you’re a proper serious maker! Respect.

Thanks for the info about London Hackspace, had wondered what the deal was. Hopefully a good value space can be found somewhere.

As for OSE Europe as far as I can tell the most recent message to the google group was spam selling medical marijuana back in 2016 :-/


#13

Do anything for long enough and you get good at it.

I’m always happy to share idea’s and learn new techniques. :smiley:

The spam, and the lack of posts, were among the reasons that i was heading off on my own tangent.

I know a couple of people who went out to Marcin’s farm over 6 years ago, and they had mixed experiences there. While Marcin can be great at working on machinery, and good at presenting his projects on video, his people skills were not that great.

That’s why i’m trying to do things slightly differently.