October 27, 2011; Source: BlackStar.coop | This Halloween marks the end of Co-op Month 2011, but it also kicks off the United Nations–designated International Year of Cooperatives—opportune timing for raising a pint of the inaugural beer from Seattle’s first cooperative brewery. The Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery will be the first and only in the Emerald City, and the second of its kind in the nation, following Austin’s Black Star. On tap for today’s debut is the appropriately named Fly-PA.
The major civil society players in the UN-led initiative to recognize co-ops are a part of the same movement that bolstered these breweries at their outset. Without the support network, incubation period, and know-how provided to these breweries by nonprofits and community organizers, craft beer might well have tended only in the direction of for-profit corporations. Indeed, not only is Black Star’s board of directors stacked with the nonprofit sector’s best and brightest, their bylaws require the brewpub’s “financial and member service support” of local 501(c)(3)s, too. Flying Bike’s board-of-directors election just recently wrapped, but as this model spreads, we’re optimistic that they will match Black Star’s high charitable bar.
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So, as Flying Bike pours its first glass, and the UN rings in a year of celebrating the cooperative movement, we toast the innovators and activists who aim to democratize everything—including happy hour.—James David Morgan