Co-ops Offer a Broad Range of Options for Living a Co-operative Lifestyle in Vancouver

Co-ops have a long and storied history as an alternative to the capitalist system of worker exploitation. Because of that 2012 is being recognized by the UN as the International Year of Co-operatives. To honour that long history the British Columbia Co-operative Association has published an article on the history of the co-operative movement - which started in response to the rise of the factory system in the U.K. during the industrial revolution and  was part of a broader social movement that included the rise of the trade union movement, the rise of the women’s movement and the rise of the chartis movement - which was an attempt to actually make voting universal for everybody, not just land owners.

Vancouver BC's widespread co-op movement is a successful modern-day part of that long history. One co-op that's been around for a long-time, and that i was an early member of, is Mountain Equipment Co-op. Its trajectory has followed the path from where most modern co-ops start as a small group of buyers using their collective purchasing power, into what is today an international powerhouse. In that time they've evolved from one small Kitsilano warehouse where its mostly hippy members bought good quality road-trip and hiking gear into many huge stores that now serve both the general public and their huge membership and provide high end goods to their more highly gentrified clientele. Still a neat organization but, as with most commercial things -including co-ops - bigger isn't always better and Mountain Equipment Co-op has suffered some losses throughout its decades of growth especially to its funky-ness quotient.

Many of Vancouver's other co-ops still have a high funky-ness quotient. Some of them, like The People's Co-op Bookstore, have been around for a long time too. A few like Vancouver Independent News and Vancouver Co-op Radio which are located in the heart of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and are dedicated to being a non-corporate, non-profit voice for the voiceless as well as striving to provide a space for under-represented and marginalized communities.

Some others are organized to offer co-operative transportation alternatives like the UBC Bike Co-op or the Vancouver Biodiesel Co-op or Modo-a worldwide carshare co-op.

From alternative housing to groceries and organic foods to co-op urban gardening to clothing to entertainment, education and news to transportation Vancouver offers a wealth of opportunities to live a co-operative, non-corporate, lifestyle in one of the world's most popular and high quality cities. If ya gotta live in any city, ya might as well cooperate eh.