Learning from co-operation: anti-poverty co-operatives in Holland

Peer’M: Social co-operatives Against Poverty.

On September 29th, the national manifestation ‘Peer’M! Out of poverty, on the road to social security! isorganized by the Platform Social Alliance; the Dutch national network of poverty alleviation. The affiliated social partnerships aim to: rise poverty above the poverty line. September 29th, a four-year review of basic initiatives and steps will be made by and about social co-operatives in the Netherlands. ‘The focus is on the new relationships between citizens and government in public tasks’. Twelve initiatives have already been described in detail on the website Initiatief.nu. These are co-operatives of collaborative peer-to-peer experience experts who, each from their own expertise, try to get out of poverty through often completely new creative initiatives, thus creating life-security for themselves and others.

One of these the Free Exit initiative describes the core of a social co-operation: “We want to involve people in decision-making completely. We decide together about all things that involve a cooperative. We also have equal voting rights; there is no boss. We choose to be a co-operative because we really form it to the feeling of our being and how we-want-it-together. Especially that ‘together’ feeling is very important. ‘ The Durable Soesterkwartier association chooses a similar but other legal form: their second initiative they call ‘The Conscious Broke Residents Foundation’. The idea behind it is that there are no major financial contracts because it only gives a headache and determines the agenda.

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Triggerpoints: 10 catastrophic blunders of companies

Triggerpoints often lead to protest and uprisings. The next 10 disasters have caused a lot of critic, especially about the ethics of business. The scandals mentioned are so large that they led to a critical mass of protesting people: they got broad media attention and companies were put under pressure to undo or compensate their deficiencies.

1. Venom disaster Bhopal

The venom in Bhopal is known as one of the biggest industrial disaster ever. In Bhopal, India, in 1984, 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) were released from a Union Carbide pesticide factory. This event led to at least 50,000 victims with serious illnesses. In addition, the well-being of between 150,000 and possibly 600,000 was compromised, of which 6,000 later died as the consequence of the exposure. Thirty years after date (2014), malformed children are still born as a result of the disaster.

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Critical loneliness

Are you never lonely?
That’s hard to believe: many people are lonely and often do not dare to share that with their surroundings. There are the more obvious cases such as neglected children, widows or divorced people, those with mental disorders or those who are ignored by their physical ‘shortcomings’. Others are overworked or do not feel support from the people around them. And many of us are literally consumed by our crazy society in which you try to keep up with the Johnson’s. Make money, performance, status, school pressure etc., we all know it.

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Critical Mass in Networks Part I: Theory

Part I: GOAL

1.1 Vision: Critical Mass

‘Today’s organizational and societal challenges are too big to be addressed by heroic leaders alone. A more contemporary understanding of leadership as a shared process is needed. Collective leadership occurs when mobilized masses achieve exponential results through their connections. If leaders, organizations, partnerships, cross-sector alliances, NGOs, community-based organizations, and grassroots movements are going to leverage the potential they have for impact, then they must understand the power of informal networks.’ (Center for Creative Leadership, 2014).
Social organizations can reach a critical mass and grow into a powerful social movement. Critical mass is the explosive attraction of fans around an existing coalition of organizations. The associated openness and the large number of new participants can transform into an explosive movement that produces significant results. Picture 1 shows a power-law distribution, which is especially triggered in social systems where many people express their dissatisfaction about many causes (Shirky, C. 2003). Of course, success is no guarantee, without any form of leadership, chaos will arise with possible far-reaching disadvantages such as violence (what we see in many revolutions).
Pic 1: reaching critical mass (Theory of Disruptive Innovation, C. Christensen, 2006)

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Critical Mass in Networks: part II Practice

PART II: Network Management

• 2.1 Focus

– Vision:  Focus is made out of purposive and adaptive network movements towards an envisioned end state. Accordingly successful focus has two important properties: 1) goal directedness, and 2) adaptability (to remain directed to the goal).‘A network energized by a goal has a purpose that enables it to organize its members, facilitate meetings and pursue resources’ (Kilduff and Tsai, 2003). ‘On the question of goals, research shows the wisdom of maintaining a narrow focus, and a single goal. Organizations pursuing a single goal are far more successful than those pursuing many goals.’ (Dobson, C., 2001).

-Frame alignment: ‘Frame alignment describes what happens in small informal groups that promote social change. Movement supporters attempt to bring others around to a mobilizing frame by providing examples and rationales that legitimize the movement. If others buy the examples and rationale, they adjust their view of issues and events so they are aligned with the new mobilizing frame’ (Dobson, C., 2001).

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Critical Mass in Networks: part III cases


Appendix I: The Occupy Wallstreet Case

Months before the Occupy movement began, the Spanish Movimiento 15-M (initiator), begun demonstrating on May 15th against the economic crises ;close to the local and regional elections of May 22th. They planned to hold events in many nations on October 15, 2011 (reaching in a world-wide critical mass).


July 13th – Adbusters makes the initial proposal for a peaceful demonstration to Occupy Wall Street (OWS).

August 2nd – ‘New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts’ chose August 2 to incorporate a ‘General Assembly’ with another group holding a strategy session for OWS. Afterwards, these two groups ‘gather[ed] into working groups to plan for the September 17 event’.

August 23th – The hacktivist group Anonymous encourages its’ followers to take part in the protest.

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Aangeraden literatuur
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