Here we are, being bold and vulnerable and launching our small platform co-operative to the world. Three months ago we were called together to do work that matters to us, and create our own practice field for learning new ways of working.
The five of us founding members - Mel, Moze, Nora, Renée and Dave - had strong friendship connections through our common practice. We are all Art of Hosting, or participatory leadership, practitioners and learners, who wanted deeper connection than just working alone as freelancers.
We also held a strong desire to make an honourable living doing work that nourishes us, in ways that nourishes those we work with. We see that many organisations are stuck, or even broken, and many people are stuck or disengaged in their work or lives. We want to be part of a transformation to a different way of being, igniting potential and connection wherever we can.
We have been inspired by self-organising teams and organisations around the world, particularly Percolab in Canada and France, Spotted Zebras in Belgium and Enspiral in NZ, and many other companies and teams - we wanted to create our own version - from the ground up.
We wanted to experience the joys and frustrations, challenges and learnings of a start-up along with all of the deep learning and personal growth that comes with it. We also wanted to be broader than just an Australian perspective to keep our practice field wide and open. For now, we are in Australia and Europe.
We have chosen, deliberately, a co-operative as the legal structure of our business. We are a for-purpose organisation - not an NGO and not a company. The values and principles that the support the co-operative movement are beautifully suited to a self-organising enterprise, and to us.
Yet in reality, the law and regulations (in Queensland at least) are barriers to the growth of co-ops to support new, or alternative, organisational forms. We chose this path anyway (more on that another time!) This is one of the things we want to influence and change - to show how a very old structure can be reinvented for new purpose.
Transforming the way we impact the world is the purpose that sits at the centre of our work and one that will continue to evolve. This serves as both our compass and map as we journey together. It also serves as our external purpose - for all of the work that we do in the world, and the ways we connect with the people we interact with.
We want to be bold and claim a space for the change we believe the world needs. To be fire starters and igniters of connection to transform the way we impact the world.
Why Campfire Co-op? Because the best conversations happen around a campfire. Because on the journey of transformation we need to stop each night and light a fire to warm us, to reflect, connect and discover the next wise steps.
We have three core foundations on which we operate:
Self-organisation - shifting and questioning the way we do work and are in our business, to be more human and whole, with a whole lot less bureaucracy
Art of Hosting Conversations and Work That Matters (aka participatory leadership). In some respects, this is the art of being human together, and supports and underpins the way we do things at Campfire. A practice for meaningful and deep collaboration and connection over time
Co-operatives - the international movement, principles and values that support it.
'That's all great - and what it is that you actually do?' we hear you ask. One friend asked if we did life coaching for companies. Yes, that's kind of true. And the beauty of this platform is that it's not the only thing we do. Our work is guided by our purpose, and our particular passions, energy and capacity. Who knows what we might cook up in our camp oven?
We are not employees - yet. We are a non-trading co-op of contractors or consultants, doing work with organisations and hosting public events, either solo or in teams. We are in this to learn together, to share what we learn as we go, and to continue amplifying more human ways of being and working into the world. In truth, we could have all just continued working on our own and connecting over mutual projects from time to time - but that wasn't enough.
We were all yearning for a more conscious way of working, for connection, for collaboration and the creative genius that is born from diversity and difference of perspective. We believe that working in this way will increase our individual practice skills and result in better work in the world, meeting our purpose of impactful transformation.
We are just five for now, and we have different and complementary gifts, experience, skills, perspectives and locations. Diversity sharpens and broadens us and yet we all come with the intention to be human together as we lay the foundations of this venture.
If you want to join us, take a look at our member invitation, and drop us a line. If you want to work with us, please get in touch so we can talk.
It is our intention to share stories of our adventure along the way. We would love to welcome you around the fire.