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Meaningful Movie sheds light on Cooperatives


Once every quarter Meaningful Movies of Renton, in addition to our monthly movie, is combining efforts with Meaningful Movies of Kirkland and Meaningful Movies of the Eastside, with help from Meaningful Movies of Wallingford, for a showing of what is turning out to be timely topics. On July 25th we held the first movie in this joint venture. We watched the amazing 2012 film ‘Shift Change’. Filmmakers Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young were both available to field questions after the movie. What an intelligent and lively discussion it turned out to be.

The focus of the film was on worker-owned cooperatives and the impact that they have within a community. Cooperatives are making a comeback since the obliteration of our economic structure through what most people view as cooperate greed. Cooperatives offer empowerment to the individual because everyone has one vote and therefore equal say in what decisions are made within the company. Cooperatives are an excellent example of what democracy ought to look like.

Cooperatives also empower the community because the economic structure is such that job security is strengthened rather than threatened. Profit becomes secondary to the worker. Profit is important, for obviously there would be no company without it, but the profit is returned to the workers and the company, not into a CEO’s bank account.

The difference between a worker-owned cooperative and a worker-owned company was made clear from the film. There are upwards of 14,000 worker owned businesses in the United States. WINCO comes to mind. These are different than worker owned cooperatives, of which there are only 400 in the U.S. A worker-owned business most likely continues to operate as other businesses do, from the top down. The example was given that if all the workers at Boeing collectively bought all the shares for The Boeing Company, then it would be worker-owned, but the management of the company would stay the same, which is a top down hierarchical structure. However, a worker-owned cooperative has a business model that implements a lateral structure. No one person has more power in the company than the other. Committees and Boards are voted in by a democratic process.

Here are the 7 principles of a Cooperative:

Voluntary membership.

Democratic member control.

Members’ economic participation.

Autonomy and Independence.

Education, training, and information.

Cooperation among cooperatives.

Concern for community.

For more information about cooperatives please go to this link:

Sustainable Renton is working very hard at starting the Renton Food Co-Op. The idea came up last night that perhaps this could be a worker’s cooperative as well as a consumer cooperative. This type of cooperative is what is known as a hybrid. There was some mention that Olympia Food Co-Op operates this way. It will definitely be brought up at our next Food Co-Op meeting, which is Tuesday, August 27th at our office space in the Renton Highlands. Potluck at 5:30, with a general meeting beginning at 6:00. If you are at all interested in seeing how a cooperative can change a community come and be a part of making local history. We need a lot of help and would appreciate any input.

A little about Holy Cross Lutheran where the quarterly movies are being held. This congregation is dedicated to social justice through its efforts called ‘The Earthkeeping Ministry’. This ministry’s primary focus is on alleviating hunger and educating the community about food-How to grow it, preserve it and share it. They have an active educational component and have partnered with other local organizations to make their dream a reality, and what a beautiful dream it is. If you would like to find out more about The Earthkeeping Ministry at Holy Cross Lutheran you can find it here.

If you have never been to Holy Cross Lutheran’s beautiful P-Patch they have located on their property, you definitely should take some time to check it out. .

Now a word about the filmmakers of ‘Shift Change’. Their tireless and courageous efforts at talking about important social justice issues has to be commended. Since 1986, Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young, Whidbey Island natives, have brought us 22 films and counting. Topics covered are DNA testing, genetic engineering of food, AIDS, farm workers of Washington, politics in Central America, education, salmon health, human gene patenting, and more. For more information on their endeavors please visit

The next scheduled event for Meaningful Movies of Renton is on Friday, August 30th at 7 pm at the Office in the Renton Highlands (970 Harrington Ave NE, Renton 98056). We will be showing ‘Crossroads’, here is a synopsis of the movie:

Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview, is a documentary exploring the depths of the current human condition and the emergence of a worldview that is recreating our world from the inside out. Weaving together insights and findings from biology, psychology, network science, systems science, business, culture and media, the film reveals the inner workings of the human experience in the 21st century, urging viewers to step out of the box and challenge their own assumptions about who we really are, and why we do what we do. Crossroads places evolutionary context to today’s escalating social unrest, natural disasters, and economic failures. It illuminates the footsteps of an integrated worldview, penetrating its way through the power of social networks to the forefront of our personal and collective awareness.

The next collaborative meaningful movies effort will be held on October 17th at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, in Factoria. We haven’t decided on the exact movie but we know that the topic will be GMO’s. This topic is timely due to the issue coming up on the November ballot.

Mark your calendars, come and be a part of a group of people that want to make a positive change in our community.

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