Since losing my job months ago due to the pandemic, I’ve poured myself into researching cooperatives. Along the way I heard @terry’s interview on More Than A Shop, discovered Resonate, and found my way here. It’s been really special being included. I posted on Facebook today “announcing” that I was helping out here as a volunteer – in part to celebrate, and in part to bring the co-op to the attention of my friends. I wrote the following as a comment there, and thought some of you may enjoy reading it too:
I love it. Read the fine print – I’m a volunteer, but I’m really proud to be working with this great cooperative. We’re striving to create a better model for music streaming which pays artists better and allows them real ownership and democratic control. And on top of the ethical aims, we want it to eventually be a better streaming experience all-around – one with a more human touch.
I’m helping out in various areas, my main priority being designing democratic collaboration spaces inside of Resonate, and helping with coordination and communication. Since we’re still in a beta phase, (currently building an awesome new music player and human-driven music discovery tools), much of the work is done by volunteers.
I believe that if we can give these volunteers unique and charming models for self-organizing democratically around focused common goals, then they will be able to really express their creativity and collaborate in fun and effective ways. To create their own expeditions – their own “quests” – their own RPG parties setting out on adventures. Especially when you are having to depend initially on volunteer effort, volunteers need to be granted real agency and not just treated as bodies to execute tasks.
Part of my cooperative pitch is the acknowledgment that few people ever get to tangibly live a democratic life, other than in rare and distant ways like voting for the president (and don’t even get me started on how broken First Past The Post voting is). We are denied meaningful personhood in the majority of institutions and businesses we interact with, and I believe this hurts our minds and hearts. We are excluded from conversations and decisions as the norm.
And then there’s the cooperative. These are tangible places, not some gesture. Places and practices with over a century of experimentation and success. They are places that not only provide a service and a different ownership model, they are places where people get to experience a fundamentally more inclusive, humane and participatory way of being themselves.