The Community Co-op Is Coming!
by Gregory Ellison
Something new is coming our way: this time next month well be celebrating the grand opening of the Conscious Evolution Community Co-op!
Weve been talking about this on the Conscious Evolution forums for quite a while now, but for those who havent been involved in the planning and brainstorming for this exciting new spiritual marketplace, heres a brief introduction and a sneak preview of what you can expect.
The evolution of an idea
|The co-op home page|
As most of our readers know, Metamorphosis, along with our parent website, ConsciousEvolution.com, has always been a non-commercial labor of love, produced entirely by volunteer effort with the spiritual upliftment of humanity in mind. Unfortunately, websites cost money to produce and maintain, and since none of us have bulging pockets in todays economy, weve been brainstorming ways to create the revenue needed to maintain the site and newsletter without compromising our ideals or turning into just another commercial website.
From this brainstorming was born the Conscious Evolution Community Co-op!
The co-op will open at the end of September and will offer members of the spiritual community a place to buy and sell arts, crafts, handmade items, astrological services, psychic consultation and other offerings produced as a labor of love.
As far as we know, the community co-op will be something unique on the web - not a company store, an auction site, or a classified marketplace, although it has some elements in common with all of these. Rather, its more like the street bazaars in many traditional cultures, or the craft fairs and spiritual flea markets often seen on special occasions in many communities: a true community effort that brings buyers and sellers together, but with the emphasis on products and services that contribute to the spiritual upliftment of consciousness.
How does it work?
Like a street fair or bazaar, the Community Co-op is a collection of individual booths or mini-shops operated by members of the Conscious Evolution community. Each members booth offers goods or services produced by that member as a labor of love. Members create their own products, set their own prices, and handle their own shipping and customer service. As a cooperative venture, the site provides the software platform to display each members offerings, handles the shopping cart services for payment processing, and provides the infrastructure needed for a hassle-free transaction environment for both buyers and sellers. Members pay a fee of 7.5 percent of their sales to support these services.
|The list of member booths|
This arrangement provides advantages to both buyers and sellers. Members have the opportunity to market their own labors of love, professional services and cottage industry products without the cost and labor of setting up their own storefronts ... in an environment that is focused on spiritual values and a shared community commitment to raising human consciousness and transforming the human experience toward peace, love and spiritual awareness. Buyers have the opportunity to browse through many different booths to shop for unique offerings created by individuals, from the heart ... items and services that simply arent to be found at mass-market storefronts or commercialized e-commerce sites ... and to make purchases from multiple independent sellers, even in different countries with different currencies, with a single payment.
Who can be a seller?
As a community project, the co-op is open to all members of the Conscious Evolution community. Becoming a member is as simple as registering ... there are no dues, fees or special requirements, other than supporting the ideals of love, compassion, spiritual growth and conscious evolution for humanity.
The quality and integrity of offerings will be maintained through the oversight of a community panel of volunteers who preview each submitted product for appropriateness. The purpose of this peer review is not to be exclusive or restrictive, but simply to ensure that the products offered do in fact express the quality and integrity intended. In the case of professional services like astrological consultations or psychic/intuitive readings, the services will be sampled by panel members experienced in those areas, so that we can stand behind the services as being professionally competent and offering fair value. Initially, the co-op panel includes the following members: Rena (lightwave), Ani*, Kelly (Veneo), Terri, Sucheta (EagleOverTheSea) and Gregory. Anyone else interested in participating in this way is invited to email us at: email@example.com.
What will it look like?
The graphic design of the co-op is still in progress, but the illustrations in this article present a functional overview of how the marketplace will look and work. The final colors and graphic design remain to be seen!
A visitor to the co-op will have the option of many different ways to browse through the offerings, including:
- By member - An
overall listing of all member booths, with the ability to browse through
the various booths, enter any members booth and browse the items for sale
there, view detailed descriptions (and pictures) of each item offered, and
- By category - Items
and services can be displayed and browsed by category, for example
Astrology, Gifts, Artwork, Readings, Crafts, Books, Natural Health, Unique
Items, Clothing, Herbs & Incense, and so on. Any given item can be
listed in all the categories that apply to it (for example, a synastry
reading might be listed under both Astrology and Readings.)
- By full-text search -
Items and services can be listed according to search criteria entered by
the user, regardless of what booths or categories they are listed under.
For example, a search for compatibility might bring up listings of
synastry readings, books about astrological compatibility, and
hand-lettered framed prints of composite charts!
|An individual member booth|
Each member will have creative control over the colors and graphic design of his or her own booth, and of the product and service descriptions, pictures, prices and so on. And, since we have members in many countries around the world, members will also set their own shipping charges and policies. Buyers can simply add each chosen item to their shopping cart, and at checkout time the different shipping charges (if any) will be individually itemized, along with the items purchased. At checkout time, buyers will automatically be transferred to a secure PayPal checkout page, where they may pay for all purchases with a single credit card or bank payment. The Conscious Evolution site will not collect or store any credit card numbers or financial information at all.
Alternatively, buyers who would rather pay by check or money order can print out an itemized order form, and simply mail their payment to the co-op.
Members will be notified instantaneously when an item or service in their booth is sold, and again when payment is received, so that they can ship out the purchase or contact the buyer as required. The site will then forward the payments to each member for the purchases made from his or her booth, less the sites 7.5 percent fee and any PayPal transaction fees. The preferred method of transferring these funds is for the selling member to set up a personal PayPal account, and the site will electronically transfer the funds instantaneously. (A personal account rather than a business account is desired, because funds can be transferred to personal accounts without any additional fees.) If for any reason the member is unable or prefers not to open a personal PayPal account, the site will mail the funds in the form of a check or international money order, as appropriate.
Purchase prices will be denominated in US currency (US Dollars), but by utilizing the combination of PayPals currency conversion options with the co-ops technology for apportioning a single payment among multiple members booths, buyers can pay in their own native currency and sellers can receive payment in their native currency even if several different international currencies are used in a single transaction!
What will be offered in the co-op?
|An individual product page|
Since members can offer any high-quality products or services that support spiritual values, the creative opportunities are limitless, and we hope eventually to see hundreds of truly unique items offered.
As of this writing, members have already signed up to offer the following items in nearly a dozen booths:
- Angel readings
- Astrological charts and reports (a wide
- Astrological T-Shirts, mugs, beanbag and
plush animals & teddys
- Dry herbs
- Energized waters
- Guided meditation recordings
(downloadable and CD)
- Handcrafted wooden guitar hangers and
- I Ching consultations by telephone and/or
- Intuitive readings
- Medicine bag kits
- Meditative Wave Patterns
- Natal astrology course
- Natal chart interpretations
- Native cards
- Native dolls
- One-of-a-kind nature art
- Personal astrological counseling by
telephone and/or email
- Sage & pineapple-weed smudge bundles
(with history and instructions)
- Spiritual counseling
- Tribal art (stick, stone and bone)
- Vibrational oils
And thats just getting started! By the time the co-ops Grand Opening arrives a month from now, we hope to have many more unique and lovingly crafted goods and skilled services available.
Where to now?
Our current plan is to open the co-op for business by the end of September, in time for holiday shopping. Well send out a Grand Opening announcement ahead of time, and youll also see big announcements on the Home page and forums of ConsciousEvolution.com.
If you are interested in becoming a member-seller with your own booth, please contact us as soon as possible via email at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the software is complete and the co-op is open, there will be a self-registration form onsite, where you can sign up yourself, but until then well work with you manually to help get your booth set up and your products and services displayed for all to see.