This is an essay-fied version of the full presentation of HyperCOOP as given to ICA.

  • 001
    Intro We are part of Decentralized Agency
  • 002
    The Root Problem Why stores haven't been healthy
  • 003
    Seeding Potential Cooperatives Beyond Cop-outs
  • 004
    A Blooming Future ICO, a HyperCOOP
  • 005
    Quadratic Voting Closing the Gap of Influence
  • 006
    A Healthy Base Essentials for Planet and Community
  • 007
    Recap Flourishing Conversation


Intro image

We are part of Decentralized Agency—“Agency” meaning the capacity to act, which our collective aims to increase by distributing it amongst those we trust: each other.

Born from a desire to divorce our productivity from the usual capital incentives, we formalized the key dynamics of productivity that are always already at play between friends: feedback, knowledge and support. This way we hold each other accountable and productive on the projects that matter, rather than just the ones that pay the rent.

Together—from backgrounds in advertising, journalism, speculative design, strategy and fine-art—we work on both tangible and speculative projects that do not aim to be commercially viable, but instead shape viable futures.

Today, we would like to take you through one possible viable future for the supermarket, one that could improve the health for humans and non-humans alike.

The Root Problem


“Healthy and fruitful balance requires multiplicity and that we continually think in and through relation even when—perhaps particularly when—engaging with those different from ourselves.”

From “Making Kin with the Machines,” 2018 Essay Competition Winner by the Indigenous AI group. -> View Source

When is a store healthy? For too long this answer has been expressed in fiscal terms, formed by capitalist logic. More revenue, more profit, the line must go up, all the while our actual health goes down. Even when profit is compromised in the interest of “human health,” we often forget to account for the planet that this health depends on:

“Organic farming, for example, […] moderates the harmful use of pesticides but is often more water-intensive and land-intensive.”

Maria Smith, engineer and architect, chief curator of the 2019 Oslo Architecture Triennale, a Norwegian architecture festival titled Enough: The Architecture of Degrowth.

As the climate crisis barrels down on us, it should finally be clear that true health has to be holistic. Not just physical, mental, spiritual or ecological, but all of the above. Not one size fits all, but all working together.

To a degree, the Swedish Supermarket franchise ICA Gruppen already understands this: Their supermarkets aren’t uniform but rather a network of independent owners who cooperate yet compete. Each independent owner is allowed to pick their profit margins, while paying a monthly fee to access ICA’s distribution deals of low wholesale prices.

New owners of ICA are chosen not for their starter capital, but their vision and dedication to the community—with full freedom to run the store as they see fit, which usually means fitted to the neighborhood.

As said by Daniel Özr, owner of the ICA Nära Vallby: “The biggest part of why ICA is successful, also, is that [as an owner] you’re extremely locally focussed, bringing the best knowledge about your area to your area—together with your employees of course.”

So if it’s all in service of the neighborhood, what would happen if that neighborhood actually owned the store?

Seeding Potential

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“Beneath the governmental machinery, in the shadow of political institutions, out of the sight of statemen and priests, society is producing its own organism, slowly and silently; and constructing a new order, the expression of its vitality and autonomy.”

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon,  theorist (and one of Karl Marx’s core influences), 1851.

A cooperative—a business owned by its workers—is nothing new. In a way, ICA is owned by (some of) their workers too as it is a “Aktiebolag,” or publicly traded company—meaning whoever buys stock is part owner. But true Cooperatives are different.

Cooperatives are companies equally and democratically owned by every single employee that works there, and in some cases the direct community too (including customers).

Cooperatives can be seen as part of “Dual Power” which is a pathway out of capitalist logic—seeding the beginnings of a new value system. The Black Socialists in America (BSA), a coalition of anticapitalist, internationalist Black Americans who believe that the workers should control the means of production in a democratic and decentralized fashion, define Dual power as “two powers, one proletarian (democratic) and one capitalist, coexisting and competing for legitimacy during the transition away from Capitalism."

Cooperatives are not only a way out, but also a way in: towards each other, working together in opposition to the overindividualization of today. Especially relevant in a country like Sweden where extreme isolation gives little reason for societal cooperation—all the while supermarkets, a perfect point of reconnection, are wasted on commodification.

“Neither particularly strong nor fast, humans survived because of our unique ability to create and cooperate. ‘All our thriving is mutual’ is how the Indigenous scholar Edgar Villanueva captured the age-old wisdom in his Decolonizing Wealth (2018).”

Dirk Philipsen, economic historian, 2020, in "Economics for the people," 
-> View source

It’s no wonder Cooperatives generally have employees that score higher on the happiness index and according to an International Labour Organization report even perform better than regular businesses during economic downturn.

But cooperatives can still be cop-outs.

As long as they stick to the typical economic models, the community might be more sustainable in the short-term, but in the long-term still feeds into the destruction of our planet:

“[Most economics] fail to appreciate the role of energy and material resources in the production of goods, services, and capital.
[…] The tendency to consider economic models divorced from the extractive practices that are fundamental to their perpetuation are particularly harmful.”

Chiara Di Leone, Economist, from Non-Extractive Architecture Vol. 1 On Designing without Depletion by Sternberg Press and V-A-C.
 -> View source

So what if there was a new model for cooperatives?
One to feed us physically, mentally, spiritually and ecologically.
One accounting for the needs of all involved.
Owned by all involved.

That’s starting to sound like a pretty healthy store to us.

A Blooming Future

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“I like to think of gardening metaphors, like growing trust. You have to water it [...] things will always grow in different directions and with different outcomes than you’re expecting, but that’s okay.” “That’s a nice metaphor—in a cooperative, you are one plant contributing to the larger garden.”

From a conversation between Dan Taeyoung (designer, architect, cooperative founder) and Willa Koërner (future-focused strategist).

Welcome to ICO, 

A new speculative franchise of ICA.

Equally co-owned by planet and community.

Not non-for-profit, but not for-profit either.

Rather for health. 

Giving back what it takes,

and reinvesting what it makes.

Feeding humans and non-humans alike.

ICO is basically co-owned by who it feeds, and by who feeds it. Community and Planet, equally. All the while it plugs seamlessly into the existing ICA infrastructure as it simply exchanges the single independent owner for a collective, with stated use of profits.

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Finally, in the garden overview, all bloomed flowers show which months were more fruitful than others.

ICO is basically co-owned by who it feeds, and by who feeds it. Community and Planet, equally. Half of the profits go back to the community, to be invested into the area as the customers and workers see fit. Half of the profits go back to the planet: balancing out the store’s carbon footprint and making it net-zero or even carbon negative.

The health of the store can be read at a glance, from its monthly community flower and planet flower. The Community Flower grows until the store goes into profit. After which the size of its blossom indicates the amount of profit.

The Planet Flower grows until its share of profits have offset the store’s carbon footprint. Its blossom size indicating the surplus going towards further climate repair.

Each ICO store has its own organic graph, accessible to all owners (customers and workers) through its digital garden.

Here the owners can see the ongoing monthly costs, revenue, and profit, which define the Community Flower.

And the (estimated) carbon offset costs and available surplus, that define the Planet Flower.

What’s beneath the soil is fully transparent to owners too, such as detailed cost progressions and estimated totals for the month…

…alongside a breakdown of the store’s carbon footprint, showing which products could be reduced for a healthier bloom.

Finally, in the garden overview, all bloomed flowers show which months were more fruitful than others.

ICO is basically co-owned by who it feeds, and by who feeds it. Community and Planet, equally. Half of the profits go back to the community, to be invested into the area as the customers and workers see fit. Half of the profits go back to the planet: balancing out the store’s carbon footprint and making it net-zero or even carbon negative.

Quadratic Voting

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The community owners consist of employees and customers, who sign up to claim their ownership. On a monthly basis, the bloomed flowers give off voting seeds to these owners with which they vote on how to spend the community’s profit-share.


From the garden, owners can use their seeds to vote on how to use their profit-share. Vote on the proposal you feel most passionate about, divide your votes, or save them for next round.

Proposals can range widely and are put forward by the community board who rotate on a quarterly basis—voted in by the community too.

From the garden, owners can use their seeds to vote on how to use their profit-share. Vote on the proposal you feel most passionate about, divide your votes, or save them for next round.

Voting seeds are proportionate to involvement. 1 seed per 1 euro earned (workers), or, 1 seed per 1 euro spent (customers). So 200 seeds are earned by someone who either worked for 20 hours (at 10 eur / hour), or spent 100 euros on groceries so far.

Quadratic Voting is an important aspect to us as it decreases the gap between wealthy and less-wealthy owners, pricing the applied votes by the power of 2:

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“A passionate minority can outvote an indifferent majority, solving the problem of the tyranny of the majority.”

on Quadratic Voting as written about in the book Radical Markets by Eric A. Posner and E. Glen Weyl. -> View Source

So, while 20 votes would cost 400 seeds, 10 votes only cost 100 seeds, showing how two less wealthy customers could still outweigh a wealthy one—depending how strongly they feel about the proposal, and how much they’re willing to “spend.”

Finally, because of the quadratic math, you usually end up not being able to spend all your seeds in one place. Out of 200 seeds you could spend max 196 seeds on 14 votes on a single proposal, leaving 4 seeds to spend elsewhere. Inherently, this encourages more broad engagement with multiple proposals.

Last but not least, the digital garden will feature prominently in the store itself as an interactive display—also for those owners without cellphone.

A Healthy Base

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One of the goals of any HyperCOOP is to have a carbon neutral—if not negative—footprint. This is why a HyperCOOP has to be set up so it creates as few emissions as possible, and so only 50% or less of the profits (the Planet’s share) have to be used for carbon offsetting.

Offsetting means investing in carbon capture efforts, such as reforestation or regenerative farming, to compensate for the carbon emissions both within scope 1 (directly self created by the store) and scope 2 and 3 (indirect emissions from food production, see also the GHG protocol). Offsetting is an imperfect but necessary step until the food that people expect to find at a supermarket can be fully produced without emissions (something the community and planet’s profit share could invest in and work towards too).

A planet board, voted in and rotating on a quarterly basis (same as the community board), would oversee the offsetting efforts, while also trying to continue to minimize the store’s footprint. But before all this, each store should be set up along criteria that can guarantee this minimal footprint, in addition to a general standard of “health”.

A few criteria we’ve imagined for setting up ICO’s, in the interest of both community and planetary health:

  • Location must be an existing space / building.

  • Fully powered by renewable energy.

  • Sustainably renovated with eco-friendly materials.

  • Delivery service runs on bicycles only.

  • Inventory is diverse but focussed on low emission products (per season).

  • Animal products—largest carbon footprint—are minimized, but not excluded.

  • Employees are guaranteed an above average wage (for example 150 kr/hr).

  • Wage ratio is held at 1:10, meaning the highest paid employee can only earn 10x more than the lowest paid (average in the corporate world is 1:500).

There’s many more things to consider for ICO, from flourishing beginnings to long-term lifespans.

In name of the Planet’s health, the initial emissions of setting up ICO (renovations, materials) will be paid off to the Planet too, not unlike new owners who have to repay the start-up costs to ICA at the start of ownership.

An ICO could bloom before it begins: opening the digital gardens as crowdsource platforms where communities can commit to owning their supermarket together. People would vote for an ICO to come to their neighborhood with their wallet; an advance payment which later would become store-credit, that let’s them vote on the composition of the store and its board before it’s even approved.

Finally, in terms of upfront cost advances and ownership “buy back,” ICO is like any ICA franchise. At the start, every ICO sets aside a percentage from its profits to eventually buy back the store with. The community can vote to increase this fee to shorten the buy-back timeline.

10% ---> 5 years
20% ---> 3 years

But, one benefit of an ICO store should be the maximum term of this buy-back. While most ICA’s get 3-5 years, an ICO can take 10 years, if they so wish, encouraging longer term thinking.


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HyperCOOP is no silver bullet. It’s a seed, meant to flourish further conversation. A first step that hopefully inspires new pathways.


Please discover the sources that inspired us on the topics of cooperatives, quadratic voting and more in our about. And continue the conversation on our Discord to question things such as:

  • Is 1-owner-1-vote a fairer system than ratio’d per involvement?

  • What’s the right balance between direct voting and required attention?

  • What should be open to voting?

  • How can the true carbon footprint of a supermarket be traced?

  • How can the imperfect solution of carbon offsetting be improved?

  • What could an IRL experiment in HyperCOOPerativism look like?

-> Join our Discord Server