Hello, Patio community. My first post. I was a bit surprised, Jan-Peter, that you’d post this here where the context for your questions might be missing for subscribers. But for whatever it’s worth, I’m posting here what I posted on the “platformcoop discuss” list. I can’t add the links and attachments, though. The post will be incomplete but hey, better than no response at all.
Here is how we think about the PCC:
“The Platform Cooperativism Consortium (PCC) is a hub for research, community building, and advocacy for co-ops that make the digital transition.” (Our website will relaunch soon and reflect this language).
There are many hubs for the movement: from the PCC in NYC, PCC sister organizations in Hong Kong, Japan, soon also Sweden, to Nathan’s Internet of Ownership, Open Co-op, Start.coop, Unfound, and platform co-op working groups in Germany, Australia, Italy, Brazil, as well as other countries. Cooperatives UK and the Nesta Foundation have become trailblazers for this work, too.
The PCC is all but one hub in that movement.
Now, The Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy (ICDE) at The New School is the research arm of the PCC.
Find The New School press release is here:
We launched a new Twitter handle for this as well: @pcc_global
There you can follow the research on platform co-ops in the ecosystem.
The hope for this project is to bring the intellectual resources of The New School to bear on our community. We are proud to have welcomed our inaugural cohort of 6 research fellows in April for the launch of the Institute. Their research reports will be presented at our conference, November 7-9, 2019.
We hope that cooperatives will come through and endow the cohort of young research fellows for 2020.
When we convened the PCC in 2017, the goal was to bring the resources of the network of supportive institutions to this fledgling movement. This was helpful to an extent. You can read the roundup of 2018. We were able to help many cooperatives to become more visible. Here are a few examples from Selma, NYC, and Ahmedabad. We wrote references for many co-ops when they applied for grants and it created an international network that supported many co-ops to date. We convened many community chats on Zoom. Here are few examples: Namya Mahajan (just a few days ago), Damion Bunders, Jack Qiu and Gigi Lo, Ela Kagel, Nathan Schneider, others. You can find recordings of these community chats on Youtube.
The PCC worked with policymakers:
Platform cooperativism became part of the politic agenda the German Social Democrats(SPD), we introduced this work to the Labor Ministerial at the G7, the British Labour Party included platform cooperativism in its digital manifesto, and we are currently working on legislation with several U.S. Senators. You may also remember the legislation that a Policy group of the PCC authored: A New Bill of Rights for American Workers Building Support for Cooperatively-Owned Businesses that are Democratically-Owned and Governed.
And yes, lo and behold, in the spirit of light-hearted community support, Stefania de Kenessey wrote a platform co-op anthem (attached). The Portuguese version is in the making. If you’d like to translate it and record a version in your language, please contact us.
One of the main projects that we are working on is the Platform Co-op Development Kit (with the IDRC and our co-designing partners in 5 countries) and the conference for fall 2019 (as part of a series that I am convening since 2009). We co-convened our last event with our colleagues in Hong Kong.
We are talking with about 3-6 emerging projects in the ecosystem a day. When I see “we,” I’m referring to Michael McHugh, myself, and a cat. (While many people assume that Nathan and I work together or are married or something-- we are in fact comrades who support each other but we have not directly worked together for a long time).
What I am trying to say is that the limited capacity of the PCC short-changes many people who ask for our support. There are only so many hours in the day and we cannot respond to everybody with the same intensity. We need more onboarding initiatives.
This lack of capacity is also the reason why I am not a more frequent contributor to this mailing list.
How do we financially support all this?
The grants do not include any operational support for the PCC’s day-to-day work.
Now, this may not come as a shocking surprise to many of you but Google.org is not a co-op: all details of that grant had to be detailed before we applied. Roughly half of it goes to the IDRC in Toronto that co-designs the open source logistics platform with our five pilot groups. It goes without saying that they do way more work than the grant supports. The people who benefit from the grant are mostly precarious workers in co-ops India, Australia, Brazil, Germany(, and the US. You can find details on our blog. The other half pays for one person at The New School and a course release for me. We have been working on the legal side of making it easier to launch platform co-ops with a Cyber Clinic at Harvard Law School and we are about to create an interactive map of the ecosystem based on a survey that we’ll launch soon. Contact us if you’d like to support this effort.
Yes, The New School supports us in many ways. Space, logistical support, etc. We are grateful for that but it does not allow us to convene the conference or hire a person to respond to the many community inquiries coming from countries all over the world. So, how did we address the funding conundrum?
We set up a Circle of Cooperators, which starts at an annual $2000 for small organizations. (Just to put this into perspective: we are paying between $50,000- $60,000 for the international conferences that we convene without charging a fee .)
The backing through the Circle allows us to offer the community daily support, the annual convenings, the making of connections, and the much-needed research.
Contact us if you’d like to join the Circle!
Europeans should keep in mind that there is little (if any) public funding support in the U.S., which makes us dependent on philanthropy or the people we benefit.
In terms of governance, we had an intensive session with the Sustainable Economies Law Center to investigate if our new Institute should be a cooperative itself but we agreed that it simply did not make sense for what we do. In the same way, the co-op form is not the answer to all needs in the world either.
Any platform co-op can join the PCC for free right away- - but the Circle supports most of this work. They are the ones keeping our lights on. The current website does not reflect this new structure of Affiliates and Circle yet but we’ll make the updates soon.
If you’d like to support this work, contact us.
We need many organizations worldwide to support this ecosystem. You can support the PCC and our new research institute (I hope you do), or you can set up your own organization, co-op, or consultancy. All of it is sorely needed.