In a world awash in change, it’s comforting to know that
the man-made principles underlying cooperative businesses are as strong as
the natural laws underlying the turning of the seasons.
A small rectangle of plastic and circuitry empowers us to
send messages, and receive them from, around the world. Amazing. It gives us
access to unlimited information. Unbelievable. It enables us to take and
send photos and video, instantly. Incredible. Oh, yes, and almost forgotten,
this small tablet that began life merely as a phone … is still one.
Such marvels, though, are doomed to obsolescence. Like
geological strata of soil over sandstone over rock, techno prototype becomes
leaf mold as it’s buried by version 1.0, which disappears under 2.0, which
is overtaken by 3.0, blanketed by 4.0, soon to have 5.0 cover it like
topsoil, this rich bed then growing 6.0, whose quick decay grows 7.0, and on
and on. And on.
In this world contrived by human minds and hands, the
natural world becomes more than mere diversion; it serves as soulful elixir.
Nature’s seasons remind us of a larger purpose … a
greater power … a comforting certainty. Spring’s pale-green leaf wisps
spread slowly then sprawl into summer’s deep-green canopy, later lighting
the landscape in pastels for a few precious weeks in autumn, winter’s onset
then bringing down the curtain on another growing season, leaving tree limbs
to stretch, dark and bare, against the sky.
So it has been. So it is. And, thankfully, so it will be.
Your electric cooperative tries hard to be a reliable,
comforting certainty in your life as well, by following seven core
principles. In October, cooperatives around the world will celebrate Co-op
Month. We’d like to kick off that celebration early, by sharing with you a
brief description of the seven principles that guide your cooperative every
#1 Voluntary and Open Membership
I know of no more encouraging fact than the
unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.
— Henry David Thoreau, 19th-century American writer.
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all who
are able to use their services and are willing to accept the
responsibilities of being a member-owner.
#2 Democratic Member Control
As democratic organizations, cooperatives’ member-owners
have equal voting rights — one member, one vote — and elect a board of
directors to set the policies for their business.
#3 Members’ Economic Participation
Gather the gifts of earth with equal hand;
Henceforth ye, too, may share the birthright soil,
The corn, the wine, and all the
— E.C. Stedman, 19th-century American poet.
Members contribute to, and democratically control, the
capital of their cooperative. Any margins are later returned to the
member-owners when the financial condition of the cooperative permits.
#4 Autonomy and Independence
It is a blessed thing that in every age someone has had
individuality enough and courage enough to stand by his own convictions.
— Robert G. Ingersoll, 19th-century American writer.
Cooperatives are autonomous, independent businesses
controlled by their member-owners.
#5 Education, Training and Information
Cooperative Living magazine is one example of your
co-op’s commitment to keep you informed. Co-ops also work hard to provide
continuing education for employees and board members, to keep them up to
date on best practices.
#6 Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Swing the shining sickle,
Cut the ripening grain;
Gather in the harvest,
Fall is here again.
— Traditional folk song.
Gathering in the harvest is a collective affair, as is
operating a member-owned business. When practical, co-ops work with other
co-ops, to minimize costs and maximize effectiveness.
#7 Concern for Community
I believe that man will not merely endure; he will
prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an
inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of
compassion and sacrifice and endurance.
— William Faulkner, 20th-century Nobel Prize-winning
Cooperative businesses are locally owned and locally
controlled. They work to serve their members’ needs every day.
ower across the land.