We've outlined some ideas about why we think a coop is the right structure, but we'd love to hear from you about what you think.
I've done some research in this area in the past, and tried a couple of initiatives, no big commits from me, but, anyway, resources...
Electric Embers in San Francisco
How to Form a Tech Coop
American Coop resource site
Mondragon University Knowledge researcher, Prod Fred Freundlich (US-Basque bi-national)
Drupal Worker Cooperatives | Drupal Coop group
MIT CoLab coop study group
MIT Platform for Economic Democracy
Thanks for this great list of resources. This will add to what we've already discovered and be helpful as we explore options.
We recently founded Praxis Labs Coop as a worker's coop, since we all believe very strongly in workplace democracy. We also all share experience working at Koumbit, a long-running non-profit tech shop that has always espoused collective management .
The choice of a worker's coop, as opposed to a 'solidarity coop' (which appears to be the Québec version of a 'blended coop'), was largely a matter of expedience. But, in the long-term, we'd always envisioned building a broader coop that would encompass clients and partners as well. That said, we haven't regretted the decision at all.
Here in Quebec, Réseau Coop is a cooperative whose sole purpose is to promote and support other coops. They provided training and administrative help throughout the process. I'm sure there's an equivalent in BC, and I highly recommend working with them, as it made our setup painless.
It is a good idea, and it will be interesting to see what emerges. I guess the success depends on the costs and benefits of membership etc, but Open Outreach is a very useful Drupal distribution for communities and it would be good to see it develop further, and a coop model could certainly help.
I think the coop structure is a good one - there are many succesful cooperatives here in the UK.
Open Outreach is a great drupal distribution for communities who need a website up and running quickly but there are issues around setting it up and more importantly ensuring a group who choose to use it can maintain it. Many of the groups who most need it will have very limited funds (and that's just here in the UK which is comparatively wealthy) so I am a little uncertain how this would work as you could potentially have many groups asking for help initially with a relatively low skill ratio. You would need a committed team to make it work - but I think it has great potential and would be happy to help.
You might also want to connect with Steve Purkiss who I believe is behind http://drop.coop/.
Also onSavvy is an interesting Drupal-based experiment in building profiles for people. They are interested in the idea of helping freelancers gather around projects or connect generally.
Of course a Cooperative (or any non-profit) structure is THE model to follow for you/us in the future at every level. We now have observed long enough (generations, centuries) how profit-obsession only stimulates greed and causes injustice, war and destruction of society, nature and the planet as a whole.
For a sustainable, liveable and egalitarian world society, business will greatly have to transform from greedy, profit-obsessed, centralized, destructive Corporations to user, worker and environment friendly, sustainable Cooperatives in wide networks. The advantages for society are numerous, while the only real disadavantage can be reduced to the fact that some small elitarian groups can no more make as scandalous amounts of profit and money as they used to.
This is an intro to my thoughts on the issue, that you can find at: http://www.independencyproject.org/en/from-corporations-to-cooperatives.html.Individually build in scarce spare time with lots of difficulties with Drupal 6, soon hoping to port it to Open Outreach after some more practice through visitaramsterdam.info and infosevilla.com (commercial sites for some necessary income) as well as globalopinion.eu, humanprogress.net and my own site riccardobarbieri.com.
I just discovered this additional "aspect" of Open Outreach ("forming a technology cooperative for nonprofit"), wich makes me even more happy to have run into the 'OO' distribution after enduring many years of "Suffering Drupal" (my user name there).
To finish I'd like to use the citation they also use at EvolveSociety.org, the publicity free "For-Community-Profit" social web iniciative, as alternative for all those giant profit-oriented ones:
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something,build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” -- Buckminster Fuller