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Demystify CoTech

By Polly Robbins, 13 Feb 2018

Hosting a series of events that invite the public to find out what we do and why we do it

 

This January we kicked off a monthly series of CoTech Meetups, which are taking place every month at Space4. Each session focuses on an issue pertinent to CoTech and its members, and we’ll be inviting people who are outside our network to come along and understand what we do and why. These events are very much aimed at the general public, you won’t need any specific knowledge of the tech sector, or co-operative structures. Each month we’ll have talks from some people within CoTech and some people outside, to give some balance and challenge us.

If you’ve got to this place on our blog already, you must be aware that Outlandish is a worker co-op. That means we have no shareholders extracting profit from the company or making decisions about its governance. Our members collectively decide on how profits should be spent, which projects we should take on, and how we should forge the future of the organisation. These processes all work very efficiently and we’re still financially profitable, which goes against the preconception that we often hear of co-ops being slow, too heavy on governance and broke. Since working with Outlandish I’ve found that extremely inspiring and motivating.

Under the CoTech umbrella, Outlandish works alongside numerous other worker co-ops across the UK, all of whom work within the tech sector, and some of whom are based at our coworking space Space4. As a network we’ve pledged to spread the word about the benefits of working as a co-operative and help others move towards this organisational structure. We’re lucky that the co-op model has been gaining traction and publicity lately, not least because of the Labour Party’s pledge to promote the model across the economy, including in transport and social care,

In January we focused on governance and financial structures. Our very own Kayleigh spoke alongside Chris Roos from fellow CoTech member and Space4 resident Go Free Range about why we are co-ops and the most interesting parts of our co-op models. Peter Thompson, who has a long history of managing IT and web projects for the private sector, challenged our heady confidence by pointing out that corporate clients and their legal teams are obsessed with accountability and liability – they feel very cautious about contracting a small company that may not have all the correct legal structures in place and even more cautious about contracting a network of companies to do a job when the liability of who is responsible for what may not be crystal clear.

This month, February, we will be inviting people to discuss the potential of cryptocurrencies and blockchain to have a positive impact on the co-operative movement. So far BitCoin and its dramatic fluctuations prompted by big market players and frantic investment, has dominated headlines. But surely we can harness some of the numerous ideas and technologies to create a fairer decentralised economy? We will be joined on February 21st by Oliver Sylvester Bradley, Griffin Hotchkiss, Jaya Klara Brekke, Bill Olivier and Peter Thompson, leading a game of BitCoin Bingo.

 

In March we’ll be inviting people to discuss how to build co-operative communities, and present how our Space4 project has gone so far.

 

These events take place on the penultimate Wednesday of each month and will always be followed by an opportunity to discuss and challenge the ideas presented and meet people. Sign up and find out more here: bit.ly/2B7T76w