The Co-operative Innovation Project

Collaborative, Community-Led Solutions

Leave a comment

Saskatchewan Economic Development Association

recently, we’ve been connecting with SEDA – the Saskatchewan Economic Development Association – with some of our recent work on co-operatives in western Canada.

Mitchell Nemeth of SEDA selected the Furrows and Faith Retirement Co-operative at Mossbank, Saskatchewan, as an ‘Inspiration File’ story. Find it here or below for your viewer. With thanks to SEDA for their continued conversation.

March Co-op IP.SEDA story on Furrows and Faith_001March Co-op IP.SEDA story on Furrows and Faith_002March Co-op IP.SEDA story on Furrows and Faith_003

Leave a comment

Robust Co-op Development Environment

One of the most interesting activities of CIP was to visualize what is co-operative development, and see how the people, groups, and activities required to build co-ops fit into a robust co-operative development environment.

Using ideas from the Plunkett Foundation of the UK, combined with our on-the-ground research with western Canada’s active co-op developers, we present the following model as a way to think about, measure, and support co-operative growth in western Canada.

robust co-op development environment

See our chapter on Co-operative Development Environment in our final report for a richer explanation of how we built this model.

Leave a comment

Needs in rural and Aboriginal communities in western Canada

What are the top needs in rural and Aboriginal communities across western Canada?

It depends, a little, on who and how you ask. But not as much as you might think.

CIP conducted three major data capture points on needs: a telephone survey of over 2000 respondents, a web-based survey of municipal and band administrators, and 26 open community engagement events.

While the surveys had a pre-set list of needs that were ranked by respondents, community meetings were wide open. Respondents could say what their communities needed most. Some of the more interesting: break down community barriers, and grow the volunteer base.

The following table compares across the three data points. Find out more about data collection and other results in the various chapters of our final report.

All Needs.Combined.ThreeDatasets_001

Leave a comment

Co-operatives First

Today, Federated Co-operatives Ltd. announced the creation of a new non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people in rural and First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities in western Canada, using the co-operative model.

What they’d like to see: more people talking about co-ops.

We’d like to see that too! In fact, Co-operatives First benefits from the Co-operative Innovation Project: the research and data collected by the Project will be ported forward into Co-operatives First, so that its rich resources can continue to benefit the entire co-operative community.

Below are the remarks from Murray Fulton, CRS Chair in Co-operative Governance, who was project lead for CIP.

Exciting times ahead…!

Notes for FCL Announcement of Co-operatives First p1Notes for FCL Announcement of Co-operatives First p2

Leave a comment

Releasing Findings

The Co-operative Innovation Project defines rural western Canada as a combined and indivisible rural and Aboriginal space. Neither can be viewed without the other.

As such, CIP was one of the largest projects ever to ask both rural and rural Aboriginal residents and communities the same questions, at the same time. Patterns of both similarity and difference provide a path forward to work together.

We are pleased to show you what we’ve found. Some of our Final Report is now ready for viewing. Find the chapters in the page marked Final Report. More are forthcoming; check back frequently over the next few weeks.


On November 30th at the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives in Saskatoon, we held a limited-link recorded public presentation and overview of some of our findings. You can view the PDF versions of those presentations here.

We have also been working to distill our findings into short, two-page notes from the Co-operative Innovation Project. The first of these can be found here.

And for those of you who love to hear, as well as read for yourself, our recorded videos can be found on the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives YouTube site. Open the first roundtable, with Murray Fulton and Darcy Overland, here. The second roundtable, with Dionne Pohler and (in a reprise role!) Murray Fulton, can be found here.

If you have any comments, questions, feedback, or just want to connect with us, please leave a comment or call us at 1-306-966-8502 or send one of the project members a direct email. We look forward to hearing from you.

Leave a comment

Innovation — all the time

Innovation — what does that mean?

One of the things that we at CIP believe is that ‘innovation’ means continually innovating. It DOES NOT mean innovating once, then never again. There is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ or a ‘silver bullet’ that will fit community, in every instance, all the time. Communities change rapidly; their co-ops have to change with them!

For some great insight into continual innovation and the way it should work, check out this article by Rosanne Haggerty and Becky Kanis Margiotta in the World Economic Forum asking “How can social entrepreneurs embrace continuous innovation?”

We think it asks the right questions.

Leave a comment

Community visits — feedback

When we visit communities, those who attend get a chance to tell us how we’re doing.

When we ask: What will you take away from this community meeting? some of the responses have been:

  • Better understanding of co-operatives. Better understanding of what citizens feel is needed in the community.
  • Better understanding of everyone’s needs. Chance to open lines of communication with people in other communities and maybe start working together.
  • Networking with others
  • Reaffirmation of strength in community members.
  • A great turnout that showed a tremendous amount of community caring. Thank you!
  • Keep an open mind for opportunities to improve community.
  • That there are people in my community interested in development to meet local needs
  • Connected with some new people
  • More curiosity about the coop options. Greater awareness of other community members ideas and values
  • Feeling good about my community and the energy of the people around the table.