A 50th Year Anniversary Proposal For Karma Co-Operative
I have had a vision for the evolution of the Toronto Karma Co-op for its second 50 years. It reminds me of the vision that I had 50 years ago when Karma was conceived and born. I am fully aware that Karma almost ended in 2013 because of many changes in Toronto’s economics and demographics. Consider this proposal as a way for Karma to survive and thrive well into the future.
There are 5 basic principles upon which this proposal is based:
- Karma is unique because it is democratically governed.
- Karma is a friendly, sustainable, healthy living eco-community.
- Karma owning its location is vital and unique in Toronto.
- The Annex is a perfect “hub” for the demographics of Toronto.
- Elders from ALL OVER Toronto could become active members.
In this vision, an Elder Committee can be formed at Karma to plan and implement a way to attract more elder members from all over the Metropolitan Toronto area. Elders could volunteer in the store, or in their homes by making telephone calls and performing other membership functions, etc. They could be dropped off/picked up at the store during specified shopping days/hours by Wheel-Trans. Karma could apply for elder funding from all levels of government to foster and sustain this community/elder vision.
The Ottawa Valley Food Co-operative is organized in a similar fashion and it has proven to be very successful over a long period of time. In the City of Ottawa, the former West End Well Co-op was a colossal failure because it was organized on an OWNER-capitalized model that was almost identical to that of the Big Carrot. The original owners of the Big Carrot had to invest $10,000 each to obtain a NON-VOTING SHARE! By definition, that is not a co-operative!!
The individual entrepreneur organizer of the West End Well Co-op gleaned all of his ideas from the individual entrepreneur organizer of the Carrot Commons shopping mall. In this type of ultimately unsuccessful model, the vast majority of the shoppers and the staff are NOT owners and this approach results in a lack of co-operative community enthusiasm and motivation.
Check out the dozens of terrible Google Reviews for the two Big Carrot locations. Then compare those to the impressive number of stellar Google Reviews for Karma. Another example is Fiesta Farms on Christie Street that is owned by one family. They also have a huge number of terrible Google Reviews. Keep in mind that both the owner of the Big Carrot and the owner of Fiesta Farms could sell/release their location to a massive chain like Loblaw’s. This would end any ILLUSIONS people may have of community, neighbourhood, or democracy, as these businesses would simply be gobbled up by the anti-community, greedy, “amoeba-like” system.
Richard Haney, Founding President 1972, Toronto Karma Co-operative