Just a year later, CoopNet itself joined Impuls as a fully-fledged member of the cooperative network.
These ripple effects go beyond the business world as well. When co-op worker-owners realized there was a shared need for better childcare support, they collaborated through Impuls to form a new daycare program that was open to all members of the community.
In Sants, local economic power developed through Impuls has meant businesses work to address local issues, keep money circulating in the community, and protect worker rights. Not out of altruism or charity, but because they are run by the people who have a vested interest in those exact same things.
The conversations with Ruben and Joel ended in a common agreement that the future of the cooperative movement and the future of community organizing each represent a huge opportunity for the other. Strong cooperative businesses have the potential to be powerful community institutions just like churches or schools, and a well organized, energetic community is exactly the kind of environment that co-ops can thrive in.
Hearing about the groundbreaking work in Spokane and seeing first hand results in Barcelona made me think about all the businesses in Spokane doing similar work. Stores like Wishing Tree Books, South Perry Pizza, Meeting House, and yes, Great Harvest. All small, community-focused businesses spread out along the City’s South Hill neighborhood - an area that has see-sawed between years of gentrification and drug deals during my lifetime.
What happens if these businesses begin to organize too; could the South Hill be the next Sants?
The Spokane Workers Cooperative has its work cut out for it, as do its peers like the Spokane Alliance and Spokane Independent Metro Business Alliance (SIMBA). But these networks are at the forefront of making the City accountable to people instead of profits. And they have a large cheering section rooting for them over here in Barcelona.