This past Sunday Justseeds tabled prints at Milwaukee’s Public House – the best bar in the country. Why you might ask? Because the Public House is cooperatively owned and profits earned go to start up more cooperatively run business’s in the Riverwest neighborhood. Second: no televisions(*). Third: amazing events. Fourth: weekend brunch by the Riverwest Food-Coop. Fifth: walls covered in radical art. Sixth: LED “Recall Walker” sign that hangs on the exterior. Seventh: monthly debates. Eighth: You get the point.
Locust Tank on Locust Street:
from the Public House website:
“Mission: The goal of the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance is to help start more cooperative businesses in Riverwest and the surrounding area to meet needs that aren’t currently being met by providing seed money, resources and support.
Structure: While many of the specifics still need to get hammered out, RCA membership will be comprised of other cooperative businesses with the Riverwest Public House Cooperative being the first and founding member. All member cooperatives will agree to give a certain percentage or portion of profits to the RCA to be able to use as seed money to help start additional cooperatives in the area.
Started with the primary intent of being able to raise funds for the RCA (as bars are a lucrative venture compared to many other cooperative businesses), the Riverwest Public House Cooperative will be giving 100% of its profits to the RCA. Thus, we really will be building community, one drink at a time!”
Inspiration: The idea of the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance was in part derived from Mondragón Cooperative Corporation, a large body of interrelated worker-owned co-ops under one corporate charter located in the Basque region of Spain.
Beginning with a small kerosene heater production co-op, Mondragón has become one of the strongest multinational corporations in Spain employing thousands of worker-owners. Now a days their businesses include a range of enterprises from refrigerator manufacturing to a grocery store chain and their business model has been hailed by a number of scholars and economists for its tremendous success.
Mondragón Co-ops have been successful for more than half a century and have demonstrated that there are extraordinary alternatives to the competitive approach to business and work. The principles espoused by Mondragón are those of egalitarianism and solidarity with a strong emphasis on technological innovation, education, best practices and economic prosperity. Furthermore, success of Mondragón has been the result of a business culture structured derived from the 10 Basic Co-operative Principles: Open Admission, Democratic Organisation, the Sovereignty of Labour, Instrumental and Subordinate Nature of Capital, Participatory Management, Payment Solidarity, Inter-cooperation, Social Transformation, Universality and Education. More information on Mondragón can be found here: Mondragón
By employing a Mondragón-inspired structure, the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance aims to promote worker and consumer rights and respond to the needs of neighbors in the community.
*A television is brought in for Packer games. This is o.k. because like the Public House, the Packers are community owned. Plus, Charles Woodson spoke up for Wisconsin workers! Lastly, Wisconsin loves beer, cheese, and football. Go Pack!