In his speech at Open 2017 Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell pledged to double the size of the country's co-operative sector “We’ll support the development of platform co-operatives instead of allowing new technologies to be exploited for the benefit of an elite few. Our National Investment Bank will be tasked with supplying funding to help support a new generation of co-operatively owned Ubers & AirBnBs”
McDonnell was appearing in the opening session of the first Open conference, which examined potential for future business and community directions based around co-operatives and the collaborative economy.
"“We need to enable people to develop new forms of ownership over their lives – one key element of that is the development of the co-operative movement.” McDonnell expressed the need to recognise technology can be used in the gig economy to exploit workers. “We need to ensure that technology is not only not exploitative, but that it also transfers ownership. We need to ensure that people are driving that change – that’s where platform co-operatives come in.”
He added: “The power that these changes in technology give us all is the ability to pool our collective talents and skills and produce wealth not just for the benefit of a tiny handful at the top, but for all of us. It can help us mitigate the potential growth in the ‘Uberisation’ of the workplace.”
Open’s promotional literature spells out their manifesto and its utopian thinking "Imagine a transparent, democratic and decentralised economy which works for everyone. A society in which anyone can become a co-owner of the organisations on which they, their family & their community depend. A world where everyone can participate in all the decisions that affect them.”
The Open Coop website offers a host of resources and opinions - a good example being an interview with Brianna Wettlaufer, CEO of Stocksy, talking about creating a financial model that benefits the many over the few.
Campfire's own session, alongside John Thackara, a man who has travelled the world in his search of stories about the practical steps taken by communities to realise a sustainable future.
The panel's brief : "To change the way we govern our communities, our cities, and our ecosystems, a variety of different actors and stakeholders – formal and informal, big and small – need to work together – often, for the first time. Given that, our journey is not just a matter of new tools, models, or platforms; qualittative issues matter, too. We need to work together in ways that increase social energy, not suck it dry. We need to foster a culture of “sticking with the trouble”, in Donna Haraway’s phrase – but not a culture that burns us up when we do so.
"Pete Lawrence, Co-Founder of the The Big Chill Festival and Cooking Vinyl Records, explains his plans for a new (online and offline) social network led by its members. For John Thackara, founder of Doors of Perception and Xskool, how we meet is as important as why; he talks about dialogic encounters and different ways to ‘breathe the same air”.
In a lively panel, many people expressed their preferences for how to bring the online and offline elements together to create "a tingle..a buzz", events which were about "co-making", keeping things "light" and involving community-based activities such as cooking together (http://feast.fm/)