Transform Riverwest • Transform Milwaukee • Cooperatives

We believe we can do this on our own. We believe we can do this with the help of our neighbors.

Cooperatives:An old meme (an element of culture) brought forward to serve our community. We copy what came before, but discover it anew as process. Co-ops are varied, so I will limit comments to the Riverwest Coop & Cafe, Riverwest Public House and Riverwest Cooperative Alliance. 

Right around the turn of the century Wendell Berry came to Riverwest. He was hosted by Woodland Pattern Book Center. Talking in the grand space of St. Casimir Church (now Our Lady of Divine Providence), Berry spoke of many things but what stuck in my mind is this thought. You do not have a neighborhood unless the neighbors engage in commerce with one another in businesses that are owned by members of the community.  

Sunday I walked to the Riverwest Currents office, stopped by the Riverwest Co-op and Cafe, walked to Scardina’s for some hot ham and rolls and in-house made Italian sausage. Went home for lunch and a nap. Walked back to the office to finish the July issue of the Currents. Saturday I had a drink at the Public House just down the block from my house.  

Bravo Riverwest. We have created a walkable, bikeable community that serves most of my needs. I rarely wish to spend and share my dollars outside of my immediate community.

I do go out of the neighborhood on fish fry pilgrimages to other parts of our fair city. And if entertainment or education draw I will follow its lead wherever that may be.  

But we do have a neighborhood by Berry’s definition. This commerce among neighbors builds community strength and as we hopefully develop more locally-owned and co-operative businesses, we will also be developing a secure economy not dependent on Wall Street or world commerce. 

This works if we are willing to accept a simpler, sustainable life and make choices based upon what is best for the community and not just profit. These businesses need to make a profit, don’t misunderstand. But the profits are invested by charter back into the community-owned business. 

Riverwest Co-op and Cafe

Let us look at the first effort: Riverwest Co-op and Cafe. The sales of this little business are respectable, we have an amazing volunteer base and dedicated employees. We struggle with our non-hierarchical management style but we are willing to work it out. We need to watch the pennies so that we can offer employment and service to our community. We can be a model for other commerce-based co-ops.  

Riverwest Public House

The Riverwest Public House is growing, and is an exciting addition to the community. “Building community one drink at a time” is more than a slogan,

it is one reason the Public House came into being. The Public House is more than a tavern. It’s a public venue for entertainment, education and community action.  

Riverwest Cooperative Alliance

The match piece to the Public House is the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance.

The vision of this organization is to use profits – partly from the Public House, when they come – to help fund the expansion of the co-op business model.

The Alliance will also develop capacity to provide services to its members as needed and seed money for new start-ups. So how can you become part  of this model of neighborhood commerce or contribute more? 

Read on and have some fun.

Mission: The goal of the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance is to help start more cooperative businesses in Riverwest and the surrounding area to meet needs that aren’t currently being met by providing seed money, resources and support.  

Sunday July 21, 2013 – 7 to 10 pm

Riverwest Public House, 815 E Locust

Cooperative Development Fundraiser With Vince Bushell – Third Sundays!

7 pm-10 pm

There will be music. TBA. Not too loud. It is not too late. No excuse not to come. Donate what you can. $5 suggested. Have a drink or two. Tip the bartenders.

Notice it says third Sundays. Let’s make it a regular tradition. It’s time to build again. I will need help in sponsoring this ongoing fund raising effort. Let me know if you can help. 

I am 65 years and two months old. I have a new hip. And I need to dance. Please join in. Want to help with the Cooperative Development Fundraisers? Contact Vince Bushell at