Myco is proudly a workers’ co-operative! But what does that actually mean, and why have we decided to do things this way?
Workers’ co-ops are businesses owned and operated by their employees, with each member having an equal say in decision making. This means each of our members is responsible for shaping the direction of what we do rather than there being one boss with power over the rest of us.
The modern co-operative movement was founded not too far from us at all, beginning with the 1844 Rochdale Pioneers in Lancaster. Today there are around 400 workers’ co-ops in the UK, as well as a rich international co-operative movement that spans across the globe.
Organising in a way that resists hierarchies can be hard sometimes but it also feels like a natural way of doing things when you’re working with fungi! One mushroom cannot exist without the complex web of life that supports it - although it’s easy to get carried away with mycelium metaphors we do want to work together to cultivate symbiosis, both with humans and with fungi.
As an organisation Myco is not driven by profit: we’re interested in connecting people to fungi and land, whether that’s through helping you identify something interesting you’ve spotted on a walk or by sharing knowledge around how you can grow your own mushrooms at home. However we still recognise that at the end of the day, everyone still needs to pay their rent. Being a co-op allows us to keep things affordable by enabling membership control over our pricing as well as making sure everyone is paid fairly and equally for their time.
Being a co-op allows us to have a shared interest in the future of the organisation: we’re all really passionate about the work we do and want to support Myco to become a resilient organisation that we hope will still be sharing our love of nature and fungi with the people of Manchester in fifty years time. We won’t be becoming mushroom billionaires any time soon but we will be doing what we love, with people we love - and that feels like a pretty sweet deal to us!
If you’re interested in learning more about workers’ co-ops, check out the recently launched workers.coop, a federation of workers’ co-ops celebrating and supporting the work of co-operatives across the UK. We’d also recommend the folks at Manchester Business Co-op if you’re a new (or even not-so-new) co-op wanting support or advice.