To paraphrase Neil Armstrong; one four-letter, top-level domain for the Internet, and one giant leap for cooperative organizations was inaugurated January 30, 2002, when co-op leaders from around the world gathered in Lower Manhattan to celebrate the addition of "dot-coop" to the lexicon of global commerce and information.
The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) spearheaded the initiative. "ICANN [the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers] resisted for a long time the notion that we needed a new top-level domain to join dot-com and dot-org," recalls Jeannine Kenney, director of communications and public policy for NCBA. "So the process of getting ICANN to the point where they actually accepted applications was probably a couple years in coming, but after that, the process went pretty quickly."
Kenney adds that ICANN approved seven new domains in November of 2000; dot-coop was one of the first approved - and no others have been approved since.
Although NCBA is the group that vigorously lobbied ICANN for approval of dot-coop, the idea of a top-level co-op domain was first put forth by 1st Rochdale Cooperative Group, Ltd, a consumer-owned, not-for-profit energy cooperative in New York City.
"We were the original proponents of it when it was first discussed applying for it," says Allen Thurgood, CEO and Chairman of 1st Rochdale, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative whose roots go back to 1884. " I thought, what a wonderful opportunity this would be in this information age. I know people are starving for information about cooperative issues, issues they can't read about or know about."