1) The “Società Cooperativa di Consumo e Mutua Assistenza Borgo Po e Decoratori” was born from the merger of two old Mutual Aid Societies. The first one (est. 1883) was a typical trade friendly association of home and building decorators and decorative plasterers. The second one(est.1899) was as well a typical mutual aid society for self help, but on a neighbourhood basis (Borgo Po), born around a Choir (a typical socializing activity of the time, where self-entertainment, education and politics mingled). In 1911 the Borgo Po Society built the two floor building with garden and bowling lanes which is still the home of the Cooperative and became such in 1935.
2) Nowadays the Coop. counts little more than a hundred members; it runs an adult and two children choirs and a “Gruppo di Acquisto” for collective purchasing at fair prices of selected quality food and wines. Moreover it is a gallery for monthly exhibitions of painters and visual artists, it organizes book presentations, panel discussions, seminars and lectures on cultural, social and political issues. Furthermore it hosts a bar and a restaurant which are contractually rented to ensure good, honest food at low fair prices and a friendly service to both members and the public at large.
3) All the non-catering activities of the Coop are run by members on a volunteer non-paid basis. The restaurant and bar facilities, fully owned by the cooperative, are leased to a chef (at present) who hires the needed employees.
1) Besides the flags and realia collection on display in the café and reastaurant rooms and the contemporary visual arts exhibits in the dining/meeting room on the first floor (a new artist about every new month or the Coop collection) the Coop organizes frequent books presentations with the authors' presence, as well as concerts and other different cultural activities. One little example: The Borgo Po neighbourhood, home to the Coop, was mainly built at the beginning of the 1900, mostly as small villas in Art Nouveau style (‘Stile Liberty’ is the Italian version), the majority of which decorated by members of the Mutual Aid Society of Decorators at the origin of the cooperative. The cooperative commissioned a photographic reportage of the ‘Liberty’ buildings and their decorations to a member of the coop and professional photographer; which resulted in an exhibition on show for about two months on the first (upper) floor of the cooperative, visited and seen by approximately 1700 people. The exhibition originated two guided tours (for about 35 people each) of the Liberty buildings of the neighbourhood, introduced by a slide show and guided by the present Vice-President of the cooperative (an architect and retired History of Art teacher).
How we promote cooperatives’ values and culture
1) See Coop history
2) It can be added that the cooperative has been an active part of the “Centro per lo studio e la documentazione delle Società di mutuo soccorso”; we are proud keepers of our ancient flags, pictures and memorabilia of our over 130 years history; some of our flags are displayed at the National Museum of Risorgimento, some historical social records and documents are kept at the Archivio Storico (always in Torino, next to the Royal Palace and the Royal Opera House) and the music sheets of our old choirs are deposited in the Musical Archives.
3) We have published several books and historical essays. Just two mentions, as examples of two extremes of a range: i) Jona E., Liberovici S., Canti degli operai torinesi, dalla fine dell’800 agli anni del fascismo, Ricordi – Unicopli, Milano 1990 – a monumental study (560 27x19cm pages) based on interviews to witnesses and an incredible amount of documents, working class culture and life through songs from the ‘800s to fascism; ii) Milano G., D'Aponte M. (illustrator), Bella è la Storia, Regione Piemonte / Centro per lo studio e la documentazione delle Società di Mutuo Soccorso, Torino 1999 – a graphic novel for children illustrating the history, culture and motivations of the mutual and cooperative movement (we recently reprinted it). On the ground floor, in a corner of the bar, a small but rich library is available for members borrowing and general public reading or browsing. There is also a bookcrossing shelf.
English, French and Spanish by restaurant crew. Guided visits can be planned beforehand with a member of the cooperative who is a fluent speaker of English
On a daily basis, except on Wednesdays
Car (good road connection)
Airport in the proximity
"Bocce" (Italian bowling) lanes
Facilities for Disabled people
ramps for wheelchairs