Co-op Movement

  • Yenni of CECOSESOLA with Co-op staff members Alejandra and Emily
Your co-op is part of a national and international movement to bring greater social and economic justice, strengthen communities, and help care for our environment. Here are some ways the Olympia Food Co-op stays connected to partner co-ops near and far:

Exchange with CECOSESOLA
In 2012, to celebrate the United Nations’ International Year of the Cooperative, the Olympia Food Co-op partnered with The Evergreen State College for a historic exchange with CECOSESOLA, an integrated cooperative of over 50 member organizations in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. This exchange began a rich relationship between our two organizations that continues today. Below is a short film with footage and interviews from our visit in 2012. For more writing and photos, visit the blog, CECOSESOLA: A Co-operative Exchange. To learn more about CECOSESOLA (in Spanish), visit their website at

Here is the video that our staff produced (conducted interviews, filmed, and edited)


Cooperative principles of the International Co-operative Alliance
The cooperative principles are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice.

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
    Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
  2. Democratic Member Control
    Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.
  3. Member Economic Participation
    Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
  4. Autonomy and Independence
    Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
  5. Education, Training and Information
    Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
    Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
  7. Concern for Community
    Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.