Project

The purpose of this project is to find out whether it would be possible to set up a cooperative that acquires and builds units in which the shareholders live and produce resources for the next unit. Expansion would therefore be exponential and feasible with a relatively small initial investment.

Link to this document http://bit.ly/kotodoc.

The document describes the contents of step 0 and reviews the steps of the following years.

The document will be merged from the http://bit.ly/kotodrive folder automatically once a week.

Everyone has a right to make suggestions to these parts, so just edit it or comment on it if you have improvements or suggestions in mind.

People in taking care of things

Juuso Vilmunen, https://www.facebook.com/jeukku, https://twitter.com/jeukku, juuso at vilmunen.net

Participation

Telegram groups

In effort to ditch Facebook we created two Telegram groups.

Send a message to Juuso to get an invite https://t.me/jeukku (no direct invite links anymore because there has been too much spam).

Follow the progress of

Options for following the project the project monitoring options:

  • https://kotocoop.org and https://kotoosuuskunta.org
  • Finnish page https://www.facebook.com/Koto-osuuskunta-109005053001909/
  • English page https://www.facebook.com/kotocoop/

Description of the cooperative or RBE community

Basic idea and objectives

Purpose of the cooperative

We will set up a cooperative in which the members can implement RBE-like lifestyles, develop the skills and plans to expand the lifestyle, collect resources for setting up the next unit, and ultimately, the number of units will cover the entire planet’s population. The participation share entitles you to live in any of the units. The price decreases as new units are set up because some of the work and resources are allocated towards the establishment of the next unit.

Income and financing

Products and services to be sold are being developed in order to raise funds for the acquisition of those resources that cannot be manufactured within the cooperative. The amount of purchased resources will decrease as the cooperative grows or its functions improve.

One becomes a member of the co-operative by paying a participation share. The payment is equal to purchasing needed resources for building a member’s dwelling. A member acquires the money to pay the participations share, for example by taking a personal bank loan. However, the participation share is so small that the monthly installment of a bank loan is lower than an average rent (for example, the monthly fee of a 20000€ loan is about 190€/ month).

The participation share will decrease as resources for the creation of new units are obtained from the functions of the cooperative.

The plot and common facilities are paid by the cooperative. Funds for the cooperative will be collected even before the first unit is set up. It is likely that money and other resources have not been accumulated enough for setting up the first unit, so the cooperative takes a necessary bank loan that is paid for by the cooperative’s income. Once the loan of the first unit has been disbursed, money is being collected to set up the next unit.

Ownership

The cooperative owns the dwellings, community facilities and resources.

  • like in any business the resources are owned by the business. In this case it is the co-op.
  • you become a member by buying a participatory share.
  • every member has one vote on every decision. For example how to use those resources.

So in a way all the resources, like land and houses, are administered together but legally ownder by the co-op.

The amount of work and automation

The most important thing in the initial phase is to develop automated food production methods, to pursue energy self-sufficiency, and to develop ways to facilitate the construction of the next unit (e.g. by constructing needed equipment to be ready, and by collecting necessary resources). However, the goal of the operation isto generate revenue and resources as much as is needed to enable the expansion of operations.

The difference between Koto and eco villages

Eco villages are easy to set up. The most important goal is the expandability of the operations, and for this the traditional eco-village idea may not be the best possible. The aim is to create a way to set up cooperatives/communities that have the potential to expand to cover the whole Finland, and ultimately the whole world.

Supporting other ways of operating

The cooperative can make use of other ways of operating if they are felt to be beneficial to the cooperative or ecologically-minded people outside the cooperative. However, the cooperative cannot support an activity that costs too much over its benefits.

Examples of participation methods include at least participation in or organization of food cooperatives, participation in organizing various events, acting as tool libraries, arranging trainings, etc.

Units (We should think of a better name)

There are many different types of units. However, the dwellings are of the same “standard” so that when moving to another unit, it will not be of seemingly poorer quality.

Some unit types offer non-members more opportunities to participate in activities than others. However, all units should produce something beneficial for the cooperative.

For more information on the different unit types, see “Possible unit types”.

Ways of participation

Resident

A resident who is a member of the cooperative. Resident is living and working in a unit, uses its resources and receives a small salary.

Member

Member of the cooperative. Has paid the participation share but does not live in the unit. Participates and contributes in chosen ways, and if so wishes can move in as a resident.

Tenant

Pays rent, works in a unit, uses its resources and receives a small salary. No right to freely move between units (except, of course, by renting a dwelling in a another unit), and may lose their rental if a member wants to move into it. Donated participation shares will be given preferentially to tenants.

Supporting Member

Supports function with donations and for example by voluntary work.

Proposal for phases

Phase 0 - Design and establishment of a cooperative

The principles and rules of the cooperative are created.

The first unit is set up in a decentralized form and participants for it are searched for. Within the decentralized unit people learn and execute the automation of resource production.

Plans for the first units are being prepared.

The phase ends when it can be stated that the operation has reached the desired level without the first physical unit, the cooperative has been established and the participants for the first physical unit have beenfound.

Phase 1 - The establishment of the first small units

These units are largely self-sufficient and return-generating units. Each unit generates enough resources and funds that after a certain period the unit can set up the next unit. The amount of units is therefore accelerating.

Most of the resources are produced almost without the labor of the members.

The unit provides its residents with fairly good living conditions. Residents generate income through the unit for the cooperative, and also resources for other units. The cooperative provides a certain amount of money for each person as a basic income/citizen’s salary.

The residents must commit themselves to maintenance work, and seek to promote expansion.

Step ends when the cooperative is debt-free, and basic needs are met with almost no intervention.

Phase 2 - Units with fewer requirements in multiple countries

Units are still trying to generate income but residents can be received more freely. For example, dwellings can be rented to people who have not yet fully integrated the RBE ideas.

Units can be of different forms and may be located in, for example, within the present-day cities.

At least the members are free to move between different units.

Step ends when the necessary amount of resources for the establishment of a large unit has been reached ..

Phase 3 - A large unit

This would be a circular city or equivalent. At this stage the cooperative is almost completely self-sufficient.The unit generates as much resources and funds that the planning of the next large unit can be started.

The phase ends when the necessary amount of resources has been achieved for the establishment of a large unit.

Phase 4 - Large units are set up at an accelerated rate

The phase is over when most people in the world live in these units.

Suggestions for ideas to be accepted

Without some of the principles listed here, it might be difficult for the community to function. Of course, it needs to be considered what can be recorded in the principles and how they can be flexible.

Science is the best way to know what is true

Especially in the early stages, it is necessary to avoid unnecessary work on issues that cannot be confirmed as useful through a scientific way of thinking, and the cooperative cannot support such activities.

Decision-making

A consensus decision can be made within the unit of all matters. Decisions are made, where possible, by scientific methods.

Communication

NVC should be practiced and exercised. Non-violent interaction reduces conflict situations.

The amount of work

The amount of work carried out by a person is in relation to the person’s own sensation of how much he or she is able to do, and how much work he/she should do. In this sense, everyone will do the same amount of work in any case. To start with, the residents must be those who have the “right kind” of interests.

Fairness a dangerous notion

Fairness is usually a selfish concept. Fairness can be invoked when it feels that one does not get enough in relation to what one has done or what one is like. You can only demand things of yourself.

Minimalism

We attempt to consider why we want certain things, and use only resources that are needed. People in the modern society have a lot of desires that are not natural to humans but appear through this consumption-centered culture and advertising.

Aspiration for veganism

Nowadays it is possible to make choices that reduce suffering in the world, and there is no need to exploit other people, and at least no other type of sentient being. Sustainable activity cannot be based on the exploitation of others.

Learning new things

Once a year everyone will hold a presentation of a new skill they have acquired, in a way they prefer to.

Rules of the cooperative

Membership

One becomes a member of the cooperative by paying the participation share, which is the material costs of the planned dwelling +20%. The amount of the participation share varies from country to country and decreases as the cooperative grows, and is able to build the dwellings at continually lower costs. Within one country there is no difference in the participation share because the costs related to the location (mainly the plot) are handled by the cooperative.

One can only buy a share from the country where one has resided for the last ten years (and “backpack travelers”) only in their home country. This seemingly artificial constraint is aimed at preventing exploitation.

Membership entitles:

  • To reside in any of the cooperative’s units
  • To spend the resources produced by the cooperative for one’s own needs
  • To use the common spaces

Membership obligates:

  • To learn new skills
  • Doing productive work to benefit the cooperative

Financing of the common spaces

The cooperative takes a loan and acquires the plot and the buildings. The expenses are paid by using the income of the cooperative.

Salary

The members living within the unit are paid a monthly salary (linked to a country-specific index) which is a percentage of the cooperative’s income.

Extra funds accumulated are donated as participation shares

If the cooperative accumulates more funds than is needed to set up the next unit, they will be donated as a participation share to a selected tenant. If there is no tenant at the moment, a participation share will be donated to someone wishing to become a member.

Orientation phase before moving into a unit

This is done to ensure that living in a unit is possible. Those who wish to become residents live in a unit as guests for a certain period before paying the participation share.

Empty dwellings

Vacant dwellings are rented out to people that are selected by the residents of the unit. These leases can be terminated if there are members who wish to move into the unit.

Income

The cooperative’s income is used to cover expenses, paying the salaries and for preparation of expansion, i.e.to acquire resources and to save money for the establishment of the next unit.

Resignation

When a member wants to resign, the participation share will be reimbursed, and the member will lose all the cooperative’s membership rights.

Eviction

A resident can be evicted from the dwelling for a specified period of time by the cooperative’s decision.

Dismissal

A member can be dismissed from the cooperative. In this case, the participation share will be reimbursed.

Can expansion succeed alongside current lifestyle?

If some members of the community are employed outside the coop and some work without compensation for the coop, community work is not evenly distributed or so that everybody could do only as much as they feel comfortable with. Existing communities experience tension in similar situations.

Building a resource-based economy requires a high level of technical know-how, creativity and long processing chains (i.e., initially money).

At least to begin with, it is probably challenging for many to reconcile with traditional paid employment ,voluntary work within the cooperative and revenue-generating work. This may require a very flexible job/employer, or freelance positions and/or time-flexible teleworking at home.

On the other hand, for the time being the Finnish social security system (housing allowance) allows for rental housing without earned income.

The necessity of automation

Regardless of where the first units are located, and what form they will take, initially the emphasis should be on the automation of food production, resource recycling and energy production.

The first physical unit should probably not be set up if these fundamental issues have not been successfully implemented on a small scale.

Getting started in a city

Below are some of the potential benefits and disadvantages of establishing the first or a single unit within an existing dense residential settlement.

Benefits

A possibility to involve more people with the cooperative

People could stay where they’re “rooted”. In other words, the everyday life friendships and relatives would not be affected all at once. It is not always about the social relationships of one person, but also about the relationships of potential partners and children.

For this reason, it may be difficult to get a lot of people involved in an RBE village located “somewhere else” or in the “countryside”. It is perhaps easier to get people involved in an RBE village located in a city.

The opportunity to get more work contributions from non-member people

Because there are more people living in a city, there are also more “do-gooders”. Even if they do not totally feel an RBE is their things, they do understand the importance of ecological and social sustainability. Since getting into a physical location is easy, casual volunteer workers could be found out of the cooperative more easily. Also, when organizing various public community efforts, it’s easier to find people to attend them.

Knowledge and experiences for example about voluntary work could be asked for example from the Food Cooperative. Maybe they would not join this RBE cooperative very quickly but share the same ecological and social sustainability value set at a principal level. There are outside parties, international campers, etc. doing voluntary work for the Food Cooperative.

http://ruokaosuuskunta.fi/

Turning cities into eco villages

While we are building RBE villages within the cities, we are turning cities into eco-villages bit by bit.

Visibility

In cities, the visibility of these kind of things can be quite at another level. Talks can be promoted,neighborhood papers can write articles about them, the unit can have open door events regularly, etc. At thesame time they would be able to keep up with presenting these issues, information, public conversation, etc.Visibility will also fuel the growth of cooperative members and outside voluntary workers.

Cooperation with the education institutions is easier

Graduate work for Universities of Technology and other schools, and also just everyday education could be more easily integrated with this if the location is close to these schools. For example, the Food Cooperative works closely together with at least one educational institution (Restaurant School Perho).

http://ruokaosuuskunta.fi/2014/ravintolakoulu-perho-ruokaosuuskunta/

Involving companies?

If companies are involved, it’s easier to get sponsored when the visibility is good. In a city the visibility is greater than in the countryside. For example, the Food Cooperative works together with Gasum. Their distribution car now runs on bio gas, and emissions are now more than three times lower than before.

https://www.omapelto.fi/tietoa-meista/

In other words, the ability to access a wide variety of resources in cities is likely to be larger than “somewhere further”.

Problems

Competition of attention

In cities, it is easy to stay at a “community flirting” level, to visit different cultural events, perhaps do a bit of dumpster diving, and not really focus on building a unit/co-operative.

Land and buildings in cities considerably more expensive

Getting started in a city can be impossible simply because of the higher prices.

Forest Resources are farther away

Passage and possible lack of space for handling wood can be an obstacle.

Problems with the urban planning areas

Construction bureaucracy is heavier than outside an urban planning area. The risk of not getting a building permit for a desired type building is greater in an urban planning area. There is heavy bureaucracy related to all construction.

In a city it is probably mandatory to join a municipal sewage system. Self-sufficiency regarding water in urban planning areas is often “illegal”. The profitability of the water network falls and, according to the principle of equality, everyone must be involved in the water network.

The surrounding urban culture

In a city, the full pressure of the market forces/urban culture is straining the new, budding “cultural island”.

Possible unit types

People have different desires for the start-up phase. Some want organic life in an eco village-type setting and some a place in a city where you can gather together and perhaps develop technologies.

Different types of units could offer more opportunities for participation. It requires examination to determine what kind of units we can support, so that the unit can benefit the cooperative. It is not wise to set up units that have a high risk of costs (in money or resources) rising higher than the returns.

It might not even be possible to operate with only a single type of unit. For example, some operations of the cooperative may require the unit to be located centrally, or at least within a settled area.

Old building on a large plot

This solution would be easy to set up but very work-intensive because it’s possible that everything needs to be started from scratch. The size of the plot should be at least about 3,000 m^2 per inhabitant. With that size, the site can produce most of the food (and perhaps even a little extra), as well as any firewood or chips required for heating.

The site can provide food and other resources. The existing building will be used as a communal space, and residential buildings are built separately.

This option offers people the opportunity to live an ecological and self-motivated life. There are many opportunities in Finland because there are quite a few various kinds of rather inexpensive buildings available in the countryside.

The benefits of small, similar residential buildings

“Fairness”

If one wants to move to live in another unit, having to move to an inferior place is not an obstacle but the dwellings in different units would be at the same level.

Standardization

The cost per dwelling would possibly smaller because the drawings and plans have to be implemented only once. Resources needed for building can be manufactured and hoarded with an eye for building. Hopefully some “elements” could be built and stored also beforehand.

Flexibility

It is possible to set up only the required amount into the unit, and add more if so desired.

Privacy and one’s own peace

Own spaces so that common spaces do not need to be used if one does not want to

Easier to build

Small buildings can be built more easily with voluntary work. Building regulations may not be as strict as regarding large buildings.

Farm

A farm is probably expensive to buy but there may be buildings for many purposes.

A detached house within a settled area

This option is usually higher in price, and the plots are seldom large enough to meet the needs of many people. Building additional buildings is very limited. If urban conditions and small units are not considered too detrimental, this type could still be possible.

An industrial building in the countryside

Industrial buildings that are no longer in use could be obtained quite inexpensively. In it you could build the necessary technology all year round and practice indoor food production.

An industrial building within a city’s industrial zone

This is a more expensive option but closer to settlements. It might allow co-operation with larger projects.

Expansion

The cooperative’s income to its shareholders would be distributed only as a small basic salary. The remainder of the revenue is invested in the resources needed for expansion. The establishment of another similar community is possible with the revenue generated by the first community, whereby expansion would become exponential.

The resources needed for residential construction are increasingly provided by the cooperative as the number of units increases. Also, the price of setting up a unit will drop with each new unit being set up, and will eventually get close to zero. Expansion will make getting new members easier.

A model to be run in a browser

Here’s a model that was started regarding the growth of the cooperative. The goal is to get a more accurate estimate than with a spreadsheet.

https://kotocoop.github.io/coop-model/

Project

https://github.com/KotoCoop/coop-model

Evaluation of expansion

The speed of expansion depends, of course, on many variables. Presumably it follows the following formula:

Number of years to set up the next unit = unit price / (number of participants in the previous unit * revenue per participant)

Model output

Calculations spreadsheet tab

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1f2hnzOnJX3Fw2fudlzPlIq-RvgEQgqVmOlGRD3lcP8M/edit#gid=0680367

If the unencumbered cost of one farm is € 1,300/month, the revenue€ 300/month per resident, and the set up cost of a new one is€ 100,000, the amount for a second farm has been collected in 3.2 years. If the cost of setting up a new farm is reduced by 10% /, and there’s always 10 people living in the farm, all the people in the world will be covered in 2050.

Internationalism

To what extent should the materials of the cooperative be in English? In Finland, you get people engaged in activities with only Finnish-language material and, on the other hand, it must be in Finnish in order to guarantee the legality of the cooperative.

It is an international project that will expand to other countries, possibly already in its early stages. It may even be possible to start the first units in Finland and Hungary at the same time. Physical resources are not likely being shared between these units, but at least information can be shared. For example, planning buildings would be different, but perhaps between Finland and Canada the same plans could work.

How does an international cooperative work? Is it worthwhile to set up a cooperative separately in multiple countries and make some sort of agreements between them, or is it possible to run operations in many countries through one cooperative?

Yearly plan

Commencement-in

  • A description of the principles
  • Launch of preliminary plans

Analysis of running a cooperative

  • What is required to run a cooperative
  • Obligations required by the law
  • Issues to be taken account in order to enable internationalization

Launch of a distributed unit

Building the necessary machinery

Some necessary equipment and tools can be obtained in advance.

Search of interested participants

Finding out if people are interested in participating in the distributed unit or the next steps.

Inventory of the skills of participants

RBE skills and Projects Table

The skills needed are listed and then evaluated whether the team has those skills or interest in acquiring them.Preliminary plans show what different tasks need to be taken care of.

Establishing a cooperative - 2019 Autumn.

Accurately defined principles.

An exact plan for the first physical unit - 2019-2022

Required training, degrees and things to be learned

The required skills will become clearer in the planning phase. During this phase it is agreed who will be trained for what skills, and which skills everyone should learn.

Accumulation of initial funding - 2019-2021

If initial capital is needed to obtain funding, gathering it must be started in time. Could the participants be working partially for the benefit of the cooperative already at this stage?

Purchase of premises -

A prerequisite is a good-sized plot in a sparsely populated area (3,500 m^2 /inhabitant, i.e. perhaps about 40 m^2) and a suitably large main building.

  • Acquisition of tools
  • Construction of machinery
  • Transferring the resources obtained within the distributed unit

Renovation and construction -

  • Renovation of the common spaces
  • Construction of residential buildings
  • First inhabitants
  • First income from the activities

Building a greenhouse

  • Learning food production

Expanding the food production

Partial self-sufficiency

  • Self-sufficiency regarding energy.
  • Basic nutritional needs.

Debt-free cooperative

  • 5 years after the purchase of the premises.
  • Planning of expansion.

Expansion to another location - 2030

  • Possibly with the help of another similar cooperative.
  • The income of an unencumbered cooperative are used for expansion.
  • Resource allocation and logistics between different locations.

4 locations - 2034

8 locations - 2037

Self-sufficient community spread over several countries - 2041

  • Resource allocation and logistics between countries

The number of members rises exponentially towards 10 billion - 2050