How best to build a livelihood within the CoTech network?

Hi all,

I’d love to earn a livelihood by meaningfully contributing to the CoTech network - but I’m not sure how best to go about it and where my skill and the network’s needs overlap…

The proposed CoTech Network Coordinator role could be perfect for me - but there doesn’t seem to actually be any money sloshing around in the network to make it happen yet.

I’ve also been thinking about learning to code (I am a techie relative to the general population - I’ve run Linux since before Ubuntu existed and in the past generated most of my income doing WordPress stuff - but I’m not yet at coder) and this week went to my first Founders and Coders Meetup at Space4 :slight_smile:

But what does the network actually need? If I were to learn to code, what would be the most useful thing to learn? Javascript? or something else entirely?

As for my own needs, I currently have a pretty cushy part-time (3 days a week) freelance contract which pays me £2080/ month but I don’t really enjoy it because I don’t feel like I really achieve anything and whilst it’s important work it isn’t what makes me tick (in a way co-op and community-owned stuff does). But I need to earn at least the same amount doing the same amount of work. Obviously ideally I’d like to earn more and work less!

In terms of why I want to be part of CoTech and what I’d really like to do etc. I wanted to earn a living in and spend my time developing the co-op economy. I’m very knowledgeable about and well connected to lots of people and orgs in the co-op world and it’s long been obvious to me that so-called political democracy is utterly meaningless without economic democracy.

One thing co-op related I’ve thought about doing is organising a load of Co-op/Solidarity economy-focussed bike tours around London. I’ve started mapping some of my favourite projects in London where I’d like such bike tours to visit (there would be several different options North, East, South, West tours etc). I once run such a tour and it was very well received.

Another thing that really bothers me is the lack of good video content about co-ops. Take the book The Co-operative Advantage, for example. It is a very informative but dry book - but includes info about all sorts of well established co-ops around the UK that even co-op geeks like me had never heard of before. There ought to be a good video case study about all of them! There isn’t even a good video about Suma Wholefoods who are co-op legends for lots of reasons. So perhaps instead of thinking about learning to code I should try and work with @Ieva_BlakeHouse and co to make stuff like this happen. Just not sure how I could make that pay £2080+/mo for 3 or less days a week though?!?

In an ideal world I’d be paid to work setting up a system/ network whereby all good people and orgs in every locality would pool 1% of their income/ revenue to fund a team of local co-op/ solidarity economy catalyzers (a community enterprise coach, a community organiser, a full stack geek, a community media person and an art of hosting type person).

More info about me here:

Would love to hear people thoughts about all this, specifically about how I could best engage in and earn a living within CoTech (but also interested in what CoTech members themselves most want/ need from the network generally, whether that has anything to do with me or not) :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments!

In co-operation,


Hi Josef.
A good read. The item about bike tours particularly peaked my interest, as a fan of both cycling and maps. I wondered what data I may be able to extract from the map … until, that is, I realised it was a google map :frowning: I think I’m right in saying that by using a google map, you have given them the data, and I have no right to use it.

Did that stop me? Here’s your data on an open source mapping platform:

I’ve used the OpenCycleMap layer so that you can see cycle routes :slight_smile: I only discovered yesterday, so I’m an absolute beginner, but I’d love to think that people here would give it a go instead of using google :wink: Happy to help, if I can.

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Hi Josef,

my research suggest that there is a net shortage of both work and funds amongst the CoTech networks, so it’s not a good market to sell to. The slight exception here might be experienced programmers and designers who are in demand, but the rates are still generally less than the commercial sector would pay for those roles too.

My feeling therefore would be that if you’re looking to make a living out of CoTech is would be by selling the surplus capacity of CoTech to the world (which, after all, is desperate for those services).

Rather than finding out what CoTech needs, therefore, it would probably be a good place to start to find out which bits of your network are in the market for a new tech team or product, and then work out how to cut you into the project once it sells. Outlandish has a ‘Project owner’ role which is generally done by the person that sells the work - it’s about making sure the end product is what everyone needs and wants. We pay £125-£375 so you could easily meet your target income, but only if you can find a steady stream of viable tech projects.

For reference, we do projects generally between £5k and £2m with ~£50k being typical. We mostly do PHP and Javascript projects where there’s a lot of data that needs managing and it needs to be beautiful/fast/intuitive to use. We don’t work with arms companies, extractive industries, the sex industry or the other things you’d imagine we don’t do.

Let us know if you hear of something!

All the best,



I think @harry is right, Webarchitects could do with more sales of our key offerings:

And many of these, such as Nextcloud, often require some client support to get them started.

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That link doesn’t seem to work for me.

It redirects to here, which works for me:

Hi all,

I think Harry is spot on here. I think it would inhibit the development of CoTech as a viable organisation if we fostered the view that we primarily have an internal market in which individuals and organisations would compete for their share.

Rather, at Digital Liberties we are looking outward work in the knowledge that we can turn to other co-ops - both CoTech or through Co-operatives UK to help us with our operations.

We have found CoTech very helpful, having recently gained a contract through a bilateral bid we did with another CoTech member.

One of our goals and reasons for being active in CoTech is to expand the field of activity of co-ops as we feel we (all coops) are still well short of our potential. In this context CoTech is important in that we live in a period when particularly digital innovation can reduce the amount of labour consumed in the production process, thus raising productivity primarily in areas of work which would not been seen as being primarily tech-based.

all the best,


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I just tried it - it took a while (30 s - ish) to load. Did you get it to work? I’d be interested to see what you think. Am I right in thinking that on the google map, the photos already existing somewhere in the google-infinite-amount-of-data-about-everything machine? Or did you load those photos?