First step in archival Chronicle of a Governors’ Association

Ultimately, the project Chronicle of a Governors’ Association (Kroniek van een Bazenbondje) will be completely archived at DANS (Data And Networked Services), an institute that belongs to the KNAW (Royal Academy for the Sciences).

The peristent identifier of the project is

The Foundation Years of Association ‘To Our Avail’

The Foundation Years of Association ‘To Our Avail’: 1905/1938.

After the abolishment of the Guilds in 1820, the co-operative idea is regenerated around 1870. The second wave had started and ‘To Our Avail’ can be regarded as part of that particular movement. This is not to say that rules and regulations where clear cut or centrally dispersed. As a grassroots association, the founders of ‘To Our Avail’ in effect had to figure out for themselves how to operate. The main conclusion which could be drawn from this first chapter of the research project is the fact that within the Association certain principles are elementary to the functioning of the organisation, such as rules and regulation, implementation, conviviality and festivities. Not all of these elements are in place at the time of the launch of the Association and have gradually evolved. It’s been a 35 year long process before the relationship between formal and informal institute finally matured. The juxtaposition between these two concepts will prove to be essential for the longevity of the Association “To Our Avail”.

(For further reading: see the project page Kroniek van een Bazenbondje)

Considering the DRAFT Decision of the Evaluation Body

Genossenschaften have been put on the list Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity despite the negative advice of the Unesco Evaluation Body. Below the reasoning for accepting the nomination.

Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.B.14

The Committee

  • Takes note that Germany has nominated Idea and practice of organizing shared interests in cooperatives (No. 01200) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

A cooperative is an association of volunteers that provides services of a social, cultural or economic nature to members of the community to help improve living standards, overcome shared challenges and promote positive change. Based on the subsidiarity principle that puts personal responsibility above state action, cooperatives allow for community building through shared interests and values creating innovative solutions to societal problems, from generating employment and assisting seniors to urban revitalization and renewable energy projects. Anyone can participate, with members also able to acquire shares in the association and have a say in its future direction. The system makes available low-interest loans to farmers, craftspeople and entrepreneurs. Today, about a quarter of Germany’s population are members of a cooperative, which besides farmers and craftspeople, includes 90 per cent of its bakers and butchers and 75 per cent of its retailers. Some cooperatives have also been set up specifically for students to gain experience. Associated knowledge and skills are transmitted by cooperatives, universities, the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation, the Akademie Deutscher Genossenschaften, the German Hermann-Schulze-Delitzsch Society and the German Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen Society.

  • Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   The idea and practice of pursuing shared interests in cooperatives has been handed down in Germany from generation to generation and constitutes intangible cultural heritage as defined in Article 2 of the Convention. While collaboration through cooperatives is a worldwide phenomenon, specific characteristics of the community in Germany have been highlighted in the nomination. Mutual respect, equality and solidarity between the bearers are guaranteed by law, resulting from the initiative of the community. Social and cultural purposes are prominent among the shared interests pursued through cooperatives. Throughout Germany, two large associations of volunteers jointly promote the transmission of knowledge and the social practice. All practitioners of the element identify with this community in social, cultural and economic terms;

R.2:   The element’s inscription will contribute to ensuring visibility and awareness of intangible cultural heritage because the large number of bearers and practitioners in Germany will act as multipliers in various domains of daily life like education and culture, house building and renting, agriculture, skilled crafts, transport, credit system etc. Due to its effectiveness in satisfying existential needs, the element clearly shows the part played by intangible cultural heritage in ensuring social cohesion and sustainable development. Inscription will also encourage dialogue among communities with similar cooperative organizations, and the promotion of certain values, such as solidarity;

R.3:   The viability of the element is being ensured by initiatives carried out by the German Hermann-Schulze-Delitzsch Society and the German Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen Society, with the support of the submitting State. New safeguarding measures are proposed such as public relations campaigns, competitions, work in schools on the topic of cooperatives, and a cross-border thematic cultural hiking trail. The file recognizes that the element could be decontextualized by legal frameworks that undermine its basic principles and that ongoing negotiations in this respect are necessary. German development cooperation promotes the element in other countries as a response to societal challenges only if and where local partners express such a need and in strict compliance with national laws and regulations of the countries concerned;

R.4:  The file was prepared with the cooperation of representatives of the German Hermann‑Schulze-Delitzsch Society and the German Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen Society. The file presents letters expressing the free, prior and informed consent of these two representative institutions. The broad-based consultation with the variety of stakeholders of the element has been carried out in an extensive participatory process of national inventorying (2013). Support for the element’s nomination for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity was confirmed via the public media and through internal communication processes within the cooperatives;

R.5:   The file presents a relevant extract of inscription of the element on the German Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014. Traditional bearers, communities and non-governmental organizations were involved in the inscription process. The inventory is organized, maintained and updated by the German National Commission for UNESCO.

  • Inscribes Idea and practice of organizing shared interests in cooperatives on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;

Thanks the delegation of Germany for the clarifications provided to the Committee on the information included in the file concerning criteria R.1, R.2, R.3 and R.4.

Schultze-Delitzsch Gesellschaft supports nomination Dutch National Inventory

The Hermann Schultze-Delitzsch Gesellschaft supports the nomination of the Governors’ and Memento Mori Associations of Nieuwendam. They regard the co-operative movement as elementary for the Dutch Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The Schultze-Delitzsch Gesellschaft is one of the two organisations that has put forward an application for the Genossenschaften on the Word Heritage List of UNESCO. The nomination will be discussed in the week of 28 november 2016 in Addis Abeba on a UNESCO convention.


(Following: an excerpt from Wikipedia 11-’16)

Franz Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch (29 August 1808 – 29 April 1883) was a German politician and economist. He was responsible for the organizing of the world’s first credit unions. He was also co-founder of the German Progress Party.

Schultze-Delitzsch devoted himself to the organization and development of co-operation in Germany, and to the foundation of Vorschussvereine(peoples’ banks), of which he had established the first at Delitzsch in 1850. In 1859 the more than 200 such banks were centrally organized under the direction of Schulze-Delitzsch. He promoted the first Genossenschaftstag, a co-operative meeting, in Weimar, and founded a central bureau of co-operative societies. In 1861 he again entered the Prussian Chamber, and became a prominent member of the Progressist party.

The spread of these co-operative organizations naturally led to legislation on the subject, and this too was chiefly the work of Schulze-Delitzsch. As a member of the Chamber in 1867 he was mainly instrumental in passing the Prussian law of association, which was extended to the North German Confederation in 1868, and later to the empire. Schulze-Delitzsch also contributed to uniformity of legislation throughout the states of Germany, in 1869, by the publication of Die Gesetzgebung über die privatrechtliche Stellung der Erwerbs- und Wirthschaftsgenossenschaften, etc.[1]

Both as a writer and a member of the Reichstag his industry was incessant, and he died in harness on 29 April 1883 at Potsdam, leaving the reputation of a benefactor to the smaller tradesmen and artisans. At the time of his death, there were in Germany alone 3,500 co-operative banking branches with more than $100,000,000 in deposits, while the system had been extended to Austria, Italy, Belgium and Russia.[2] His work was noteworthy enough to attain mention in Leo Tolstoy’s novel, Anna Karenina.

Co-operative Movement of the Netherlands on the National Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage?

tempel blauwFoundation Journey of the Razzia (Reis van de Razzia) has put forward a proposal to list the Co-operative Movement of the Netherlands on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The proposal wil be evaluated in November 2016, somewhere at the time the German application to put the Genossenschaften on the Word heritage reference list of UNESCO wil be decided. The Dutch proposal is effectively put forward by the Associations ‘To Our Avail’ and ‘Memento Mori’. The proposal is backed by the National Co-operative Museum. 

(The following comes from the research report). 

The research project ‘Chronicle of a Gov’s Association’ has established by fact that the Association “To Our Avail” is not an isolated biotope. The Association was able to respond adequately to the evolving economical circumstances and this has contributed to her longevity. “To Our Avail”’ has also empowered the local community for more than a century by strengthening social cohesion. Apart from that, the flexibility of the economy increased because the cooperative movements lead to a greater diversity of business structures. 

The attention for cooperative forms can be traced back to the early Middle Ages. ”At that time”, argues Prof. De Moor, ”there was a Silent Revolution, because it didn’t evolve riots, but the construction of new social institutions”. The current economical cycles we are experiencing are, according to the De Moor, evidence of a new Silent Revolution. New Business-models increasingly incorporate cooperative principles as a solution for the dwindling Welfare-State. Nevertheless, despite her longstanding history, the cooperative principles are not always being carried forward by businesses presenting themselves as “commons”. The up and coming Sharing Economy and changing structures of some well-known Cooperative Banks seriously contribute to this wide-spread disorientation. 

Nurturing of and promoting the cooperative principles encourages new forms of Institutions for Collective Action orientate and helps to prevent confusion. The project ‘Chronicle of The Governor’s Association’ provides a modest contribution by securing the importance and the history of this local cooperative through immortalizing the personal stories and minutes of ”To Our Avail” and by situating them in the context of their times. In line with this we propose the Cooperative Movement as a suitable candidate for the Dutch National Intangible Heritage Inventory.[1] At present our request coincides with the current application to the UNESCO Commission Germany for the Genossenshaften to be included on the Representative List for the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Association “To Our Avail” is very proud to be part of this movement and is looking forward to see the German application for UNESCO accepted by November 2016.

(Translation: Jeanette Tierney)

Introduction: Chronicle of the Governor’s Association

bbondje_rood_achterland_basisChronicle of the Governor’s Association is a field research project investigating the sustainability of a so-called Institution for Collective Action.

A cooperative Association is an expression of such an institute. By examining the functioning of a 110-year-old Cooperative sickness fund we aimed to identify the qualities that have ensured the long-term existence of the Association.

The Association “To Our Avail” has operated since 1905 as a communal sickness fund for entrepreneurs in Amsterdam-North. The Association is part of the so-called Second Wave of the Cooperative Movement, initiated in Germany by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen and Franz Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch. The German movement led to the foundation of for example the Raiffeisenbank and Local Farmer’s Bank (Boerenleenbank). In 1972 the two merged, resulting in the Cooperative RaBoBank. Since 2015 the cooperative structure has gradually been abandoned to a more centralized form of management control.

By means of counteraction to this form of progression a renewed interest has arisen for various forms of cooperative entrepreneurship. The rise of the Participation Society and the economical crisis of 2008 are all determinants, which have sparked this renewed interest in the commonality.

Despite this interest, the principles of self-governance and cooperation are currently no longer apparent in the collective social conscience, argues Prof. Tine Moor (University of Utrecht. With the research project Chronicle of the Governor’s Association we aim to contribute to safeguarding and propagating the original principles of the Society.

The emphasis of the project Chronicle of The Governor’s Association lies on facilitating the process of change within the Association “To Our Avail”. In order to achieve this goal we applied the Method “Challenge for Change” as developed by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). Hereby filmed video-interviews and reports are employed to create discourse. The data is consequently presented to the target group and generates new outcomes. The board and members of the Association “To Our Avail”’ thus form active participants in our research. The interviews were supplemented with results of historical research in order to provide the necessary context. We collaborated with experts conducting contemporary Academical Research about the functioning of Commonality in the present period, also known as the Third Wave of the Cooperative Movement.

The project The Chronicle of The Governor’s Association is divided into three periods of which the first one covers the foundation years and the rise of the Society from 1905 till 1939. The second period deals with the Welfare-State: 1966-1985.

The third and final chapter covers the period 2005-2016 of which the latter years were dominated by the American Financial Crisis of 2008 . This crisis gradually resulted in a fundamental rethink among citizens and local communities worldwide about the actual functioning of the present-day economical principles.

Chronicle of The Governor’s Association has thus become a narration of the local and the common, juxtaposed against the setting of the bigger social movements. The Association “To Our Avail” can therefore be seen as a lieu de mémoire in which “Memory” and “History” are intertwined, a relationship formerly described by Pierre Nora. (Pierre Nora. “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire” as published in the Magazine Representations – edition 26.)

The project Chronicle of the Governor’s Association is initiated by the Dutch Foundation Journey of the Razzia (Stichting Reis van de Razzia) in the context of its research programme “Journey through the Hinterland”. The project is supported by the research group ‘Institutions for Collective Action’, supervised by Prof. Tine de Moor of the University of Utrecht. Also partner in the project were the Digital Platform DANS (Data And networked Services) of the KNAW (Royal Dutch Academy for Science).

The projecPrins-Bernhard-Cultuurfonds_RGB_logo-800x846pxt is financially supported by the Prince Bernard Culture Fund North-Holland.



Platform co-ops: How can workers defeat the ‘Death Stars’?

Uit een artikel door Rebbeca Harvey, 

“As ‘Death Star platforms’ such as Airbnb and Uber continue their pursuit of global domination, an alternative is rising in its wake,” wrote Cat Johnson in an introduction to 11 Platform Cooperatives creating a real sharing economy. She was referring to platform co-operatives, which work on the simple co-operative principle of putting power “back in the hands of the people”.

In November, over 1,000 people gathered at a conference in New York to explore how this could be achieved and, since then, discussion around the idea has blossomed. The term itself was coined by author and academic Trebor Scholz, to “give a name to what a lot of people have been longing for – and even working on already”.

Read more: Platform Cooperativism: Taking back the internet

“Platform co-operatives, which share the value they create with the users they depend on, are on the rise,” added Ms Johnson. “As Shareable co-founder Neal Gorenflo writes: ‘platform co-ops combine a co-operative business structure with an online platform to deliver a real-world service’”.

The 11 inspiring platform co-operatives Ms Johnson lists cover ride-sharing/car-sharing organisations (Juno, New York; Modo, Vancouver; Tapazz, Belgium), taxis (Union Taxi, Denver; VTC Cab, Paris) and technology (Enspiral, New Zealand; Timefounder, Barcelona; Backfeed, Israel), as well as Peerby, a Dutch neighbour-to-neighbour goods sharing platform; the stock photo site Stocksy; and Fairmondo, an ethical alternative to eBay.

But not all those would be considered “true” co-operatives under the structures of their countries. “I and, I imagine, the vast majority of people in the global co-operative movement feel quite strongly that to be described as a co-op (platform or otherwise) you should, well, actually be a co-op,” says co-op activist and writer Josef Davies-Coates.