What is Membership?

Since the beginning, GreenStar's mission focused on making nutritious, whole food available to its members. But membership means more than just access to good, healthy food...

When you join the Co-op you become a Member-Owner of a locally-owned and cooperatively operated values-based business. We focus on the social and environmental impact GreenStar makes on our local and global community, as well as economic performance. We put our values first, and return all profits back to the Co-op or donate them to the community.

The co-operative business model has proven to be a strong alternative to traditional profit-driven businesses. And, for every dollar you spend in a locally-owned business or cooperative, 45 cents is return to the community, compared to only 13 cents when you spend a dollar at a chain store.

One Member – One Vote means your voice truly counts!

Like all consumer co-ops, GreenStar is owned and democratically run by the people who use the store. Unlike traditional corporations where the amount of a stockholder's investment determines his or her voting power, every member at GreenStar has equal voting rights. As a Member-Owner, you have an equal say in the future direction of GreenStar.

By investing and participating in your co-op, you're putting your values into action.

Through your Equity Share investment and patronage, GreenStar supports the health and well-being of our member-owners, our community and the planet by:

  • Purchasing from local farmers and businesses
  • Paying a livable wage
  • Using clean energy and recycled office supplies
  • Supporting organic agriculture and fair trade producers
  • Offering health insurance to employees
  • Donating to local charities and events
  • Providing education on nutrition, health and sustainability
  • Improving access to healthy food to those on limited budgets through the FLOWER program



 

 

The International Year of Cooperatives: 
The Legacy of the Rochdale Pioneers Stands Strong

 

By Alexis Alexander,

Membership Manager

CO-OPWAYThe International Cooperative Alliance has proclaimed 2012 to be the International Year of Cooperatives. Their goal is twofold: to raise public awareness of cooperatives worldwide, and to educate people on how co-ops do business in a different way. It seems their timing couldn't be more perfect. With income inequality protests occurring across the globe, and Occupy Wall Street resonating with so many people in the US, now is a good time to talk about alternatives to traditional economic structures. Co-ops certainly offer a viable alternative model through collective governing and equitable sharing of profits, and by making decisions based on human need rather than human greed.

As I look toward 2012, I can't help reflecting on the history of the cooperative system. Successful co-ops emerged at a time when many people were dealing with economic and political strife similar to what we're experiencing now. Particularly noteworthy is the story of the Rochdale Pioneers, who are credited with starting the modern-day cooperative movement.

In October of 1844, a group of 28 skilled weavers in Rochdale, England formed the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers as a response to the harsh economic, social and political conditions of the day. On Dec. 21 of that year, they opened a retail store, becoming the first co-op that would achieve sustained success over time. To understand the Rochdale Pioneers' motivation for establishing a cooperative business, let's take a look at what had been happening in England prior to that time, starting with the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700's.

The Industrial Revolution brought about a dramatic shift from home-based, workshop-oriented manufacturing to mass centralization and mechanization of the work force, greatly reducing the control most people had over their economic, political and social lives. Working and living conditions for many were deplorable: wages were extremely low, competition for jobs was fierce, and disease, poverty and malnutrition were on the rise. It became increasingly difficult for workers to purchase the basic necessities of life. Reformers Robert Owen and Dr. William King began espousing cooperative values, impressing upon workers that by acting and living collectively, they could improve their standard of living.

By the early 1840s, some social reforms were underway. Workers began to exercise more of their collective power through establishing trade unions and organizing strikes. Enter the Rochdale Pioneers. They pooled their scarce resources in order to offer high-quality goods at an affordable price, returning any profits to their members through a patronage dividend. In order to ensure success, they developed a set of working principles based on the cooperative teachings of Owens and King. These principles stressed the ideals of autonomy, empowerment, tolerance, collaboration, honesty, and fairness within the workplace, marketplace and community at large.

The Pioneers had a modest start, selling only flour, sugar, oatmeal, butter and candles. Quickly establishing a reputation for selling high-quality, unadulterated goods, they were able to expand their offerings within three months' time. Their people-focused business model served as an inspiration to others. Within ten years, a thousand cooperatives had sprung up throughout Britain.

The success of the Rochdale Pioneers is attributed to a strong business foundation established through their working principles. In 1895, when the International Cooperative Alliance formed to help serve and support cooperatives worldwide, its founders adapted the Rochdale principles into the Seven Cooperative Principles still used by all co-ops today (and found below): Voluntary and Open Membership, Democratic Member Control, Member Economic Participation, Autonomy and Independence, Education, Training and Information, Cooperation among Cooperatives and Concern for Community. The Rochdale Pioneers' legacy is impressive. With a billion cooperative members and over 100 million cooperative jobs worldwide, the cooperative movement stands strong as a sound and just business model. As we enter the International Year of Cooperatives, let's be inspired by and keep building on the wisdom of the Rochdale Pioneers.

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