Can a Bike Co-op Age with Grace?
Not to be too real here, but not all co-ops stand the test of time. We face the ongoing challenges of fostering a healthy shop culture, working with a revolving volunteer base, having different structural models of operation (each with their own strengths and flaws), and are always within ever changing cityscapes. We excel and grow. We go through ruts and shrink. But can we adapt and age with grace?
In this workshop, I will open with an overview of the nature of my bike co-op’s current situation and then open up discussion to group troubleshoot. The types of thoughts and questions this can productively focus on are:
- Having a revolving volunteer base means managing the selection biases that it produces. Many excellent people join and then move away. For those who stay in the city, many burn out and leave the co-op while others incorporate long term participation into their lives. Of those long term participants, there is a tendency to depend upon a core and shouldering that responsibility affects people differently. Have you ever spotted a problem on the horizon like this? Did it come to pass, were you able to advert it through intentional policy change, or something else entirely?
- Having foundational principles when first creating a co-op is essential to surviving. But we don’t always get everything right and tradition can be a sticky thing to unpack. Does your co-op have experience making an organizational transition? Maybe you are planning something currently? For example, changing from being entirely volunteer run to paying for some positions. Another example would be going from only community decision making to having a board. What worked and what didn’t?