2010 May: NCBA Annual Conference

Speaking engagement:

National Cooperative Business Association
May 4 – 6, 2010
Capitol Hilton
Washington, D.C.

On the Right Side of History: Democracy, Equity, Ownership, and the Cooperative Business Model
Presented by Rick Riehle

In this workshop we will discuss the cooperative business model and its ramifications for our economy and society at large. Topics will include cooperative principles, ecological economics and economic justice, and the social and economic effects of the cooperative model. We will sketch the span of past and future history, recount the ascension of democracy, equity and ownership, and observe their logical and natural culmination in the cooperative business model. Cooperatives are Transforming the Economy; indeed they are on the right side of history.

2010 Feb: Cooperatives on tap at Sustainable Ballard

Sustainable Ballard this month is all about cooperatives. Fulvio, the meeting organizer, and I have talked about actively engaging the attendees for this one. I’ve done an interactive workshop/seminar that goes more or less like this… I start by asking participants to call out social, economic and political problems. Almost anything goes. I have a scribe capture these ideas on a whiteboard. After I offer a high-level overview of cooperatives we review the list of problems and see how cooperatives might address and mitigate them. By the time we get to the end participants are giving me the answers. I’ve done this for groups between 8 and 50 people. Long story short, Fulvio likes the idea, so we’ll probably do something along these lines. Join us.

2009 October: SLICE

Speaking engagement

SLICE: Strengthening Local Independent Cooperatives Everywhere
October 3, 2009
Hugo House
Seattle, Washington

Does your co-op have the skills, resources, and commitments to work well together and succeed in line with cooperative values? Meet experienced cooperators and hear what challenges and solutions others in the room bring. Topics include: models for structure and process; cooperative leadership; team-building around purpose, vision and values; communication and decision-making; strategic planning; and development, career paths, and succession planning.

Alison Booth
Fulvio Casali
Rick Riehle

2009 October: Econvergence

October 2 – 4, 2009
Portland, Oregon

Ecological Economics as a Step Toward a More Perfect Economy
Presented by Rick Riehle

In this workshop, we will interactively discuss the cooperative business model, its significance as a solution to worldwide economic problems, and its ramifications for our economy and society. Topics will include the major types of cooperatives, cooperative principles, ecological economics and economic justice, and the social and economic effects of the cooperative model.


Staticlist is a shipping module for the Zen Cart eCommerce platform. It lists a configurable number of static options from which a customer may select.  The options consist of a description paired with a price.  This might be useful, for example, if you make regular deliveries to a specific set of locations such as Farmer’s Markets, or if you are involved in fund raisers, each with a specific organizational affiliation, delivery date or location.  It is similar to the Flat Rate shipping module, except that it supports an arbitrary number of options rather than just one.

Notes for version 1.00:

  1. This release is effectively two modules in one.  Staticlist and staticlist2 are clones; both are distributed in this package.  This allows you to have lists with two different headings such as “Delivery” and “Store Pickup.”  As an alternative it allows you to have the first list invoked when the shipping address is in one region and the second list invoked when the shipping address is in some other region; for example, one list for California and another for Oregon.  This is possible once you have configured multiple shipping zones at Admin -> Localization/Taxes -> Zone Definitions.  Use one module alone or both of them together.
  2. Updated comments, which should help anyone developing shipping modules.
  3. Known to work with Zen Cart v1.3.8.  There have been over 300 downloads of this module with no reports of trouble, so it is time to call this a 1.00 release.

Download the staticlist shipping module as either a tgz archive or a zip file.

The MD5 signature of the tgz file is:

The MD5 signature of the zip file is:

There is a support thread on the Zen Cart forum.

Middle aged, average looking.

I have made a lot about the world changing last November. I did not know it at the time, but that is not the only thing that changed….

A few days after the presidential election I was riding a bus northbound from downtown Seattle. It was a double-long bus and nearly all the seats were taken by commuters headed home from a day’s work. I sat midway to the back on a bench that faced across the isle. Opposite me was a black guy, roughly my age, a construction worker with a tool belt, a hard hat, and a stack of newspapers.

I sat reading a magazine while he was going through the newspapers. The papers, of course, were full of stories about the election. Every so often he chuckled, almost laughed. It was not that he found anything funny, rather he was elated and he simply could not contain it.

I set down my magazine and looked at him. I noticed that a few others had done the same and that nearly everyone, whether or not they continued to pretend to read, was quietly smiling. He looked up and said, “I just still can’t believe it.” I said, “I know what you mean: neither can I.” He handed me one of the papers and said, “look at this one.” As I skimmed through it I chuckled, almost laughed.

fist bump

I’m a white guy, middle aged, average looking. He was a black guy, middle aged, average looking. Yet through the years, whether my hair was long or short, I doubt many people crossed the street to avoid my path. And even when I wear a grunge over-shirt and jeans with holes, I suspect few shopkeepers worry that I am planning to shoplift. I have never found it difficult to hail a cab. In other words I have not walked the planet under the constant sense that I was being prejudged. I have, however, had the sense when meeting average-looking black guys of about my age that I was over-compensating. I have found myself trying to let the other guy know that I’m not racist, that I’m okay/you’re okay. I have tried to believe that neither one of us has had anything to prove, but I was fooling myself.

He needed to prove that he wasn’t going to mug me and that he didn’t steal, yet that nonetheless he could not always flag down a cab. I needed to prove that I was not racist, and that I was not personally responsible for the endless span of history through which average-looking, middle-aged white guys held up an institutionalized system of segregation so that we could maintain power and extract profit through the exploitation of average-looking, middle-aged black guys. I found myself trying to believe that had I lived at sometime in that long span of history that I would have been the same non-racist guy I am today, the recent odds of that being one in ten, not long ago one in one-hundred, not much before that one in one-thousand. It has nearly always been necessary to navigate racial bias, and it has never been easy, but maybe now it will be easier. Maybe neither one of us now has quite so much to prove. I am not so naïve that I believe that racism and bigotry have vanished and that we now live in a perfectly equal society. I am not suddenly blind to the inequalities yet faced by woman, non-heterosexuals and non-believers. But our new president is a black guy, middle aged, average looking.

I said, “I think he may end up being the best president of our lifetime, maybe one of the best this country will ever have, and it’s not because he’s black.” He said, “thank you.” I said, “well, yeah, thank you too.” We were complete strangers, and I will probably never meet him again, but in that moment we were brothers. He reached out, fist down. I reached out, fist down. We bumped.

It is not that we are exactly alike, we are different. But possibly for the first time in my life I was not compensating for anything, I wasn’t apologizing for anything, and neither was he. So what else changed last November? I’ll give you a hint….

He is middle aged, average looking.