Americans, particularly Southerners, love our traditions. We eat turkey on Thanksgiving, throw rice at weddings and could never quite embrace the metric system.
A tradition is, quite simply, the passing down of our beliefs and customs from one generation to the next. Traditions enrich our culture and create a heritage.
Consider the phrase “time-honored traditions.” We believe that the longer we retain and pass along our ideas and customs, the more valuable and entrenched they become. And in our world of fast food and 24-hour news cycles, any activity or thought that has survived the test of time is indeed something to be celebrated. Traditions grant us with the opportunity to live beyond ourselves and connect with previous generations.
Balancing tradition and innovation is no simple task — a challenge our electric co-ops face each day.
Co-ops have a proud heritage. We were created by our members for their benefit. It’s important to remember our past and celebrate the movement that led us to where we are today.
Respecting the sacrifices and contributions of those who came before us is an honorable practice; however, we must do so with caution. Dwelling on the past can put us out of touch with the changing world around us.
The utility marketplace is constantly changing. Technology is advancing at a frightening pace, second only to the expectations of our members. To remain relevant and effective, co-ops must find new ways to meet the needs of the communities we serve.
The Tennessee State Fair is going on now in Nashville. It bridges the gap of celebrating the past yet creating new traditions. This year’s theme is “Tennessee Traditions,” a fitting title. For more than 150 years, the fair has been a celebration of rural Tennessee life. It is where World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York showed his prize Hereford and generations have marked the beginning of autumn.
I have my own childhood memories of attending the fair, as do thousands of other Tennesseans.
It is also an opportunity to honor rural Tennessee’s innovation and creativity. The fair is a powerful vehicle for promoting new agricultural practices and educating the next generation of Tennesseans.
The state’s electric cooperatives are proud to sponsor the opening ceremony of this year’s fair. James Crowder, a lineman from Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, flipped a switch to light the midway during the opening ceremony. TECA’s Everyday Safe demonstration trailer is also at the fair conducting daily safety demonstrations. As life-changing as electricity can be, if used improperly, it can be deadly. We’re pleased that we can visibly demonstrate how to be safe around electricity.
I hope you have the opportunity to attend the fair this year or at least follow some of the activities online. The fair, like our co-ops, combines heritage and creativity to produce something truly unique: a place where ideas and pioneering spirits have been celebrated for decades — a tradition of innovation.