Should we do more to learn from other countries?
By Mark Smith
This isn’t my bid to go on a jolly to some far-flung destination (although that would be nice), but it’s just a gentle reminder to us all that we should never think that we have all the answers in this country, as far as co-operative and social enterprise development, financial inclusion, fair trade and digital inclusion are concerned.
I had a message on Facebook this morning from Co-operative Radio in Vancouver, who I did a bit of work around when I started an MA (Res) last year, which was looking into ethical and alternative sustainability options for community media. The message was promoting the station’s 35th anniversary – some achievement in a sector (community media) that can be so volatile and which is rarely taken seriously, in my opinion.
Just the fact that this particular co-operative has lasted for that long, surely means that similar organisations in this country could learn from its experiences. I know that the co-operative sector in Canada is generally more established than it is in this country and there are many other environmental factors that make a direct comparison difficult, but it wouldn’t hurt for us to put our heads above the parapet a bit more, to see how our ‘cousins’ elsewhere are doing.
After all, if we can’t make use of a co-operative ethos and spirit to help each other learn in this sector, where can we?