By Adam Schwartz
Every October, cooperatives from all sectors across the country celebrate National Cooperative Month. The purpose of this annual celebration is to recognize the cooperative difference and remind co-op members of the purpose and impact of the nation’s electric co-ops.
I must admit that occasionally, I too have been somewhat cynical of the many different “days” and “months” that are celebrated, but National Cooperative Month is truly an opportunity to celebrate.
Celebrating National Cooperative Month informs others about our unique business model, which is based on the Seven Cooperative Principles: Voluntary and Open Membership; Democratic Member Control; Members’ Economic Participation; Autonomy and Independence; Education, Training and Information; Cooperation Among Cooperatives; and Concern for Community.
For co-op employees and members that are familiar with the principles, the month of October is a great opportunity to renew our connection to each other and the purpose of our co-op. In the U.S., there are more than 29,000 co-ops serving in every single industry. Many co-ops from different sectors join together during the month of October to educate members in the community about cooperatives.
There are more co-ops in our local community than most people realize. Ace Hardware, True Value, Do It Best Hardware and credit unions are all co-ops. Co-ops are even represented on the shelves at our local grocery stores, such as Land O’Lakes, Welch’s, Organic Valley, Cabot Cheese, Sunkist, Ocean Spray and more.
According to the latest data, more than 130 million people belong to a co-op in the U.S. alone, and co-ops employ more than 2 million Americans.
This speaks to the heart of why we must take every opportunity to celebrate and teach others about the cooperative business model. So, plan your own co-op celebration by purchasing co-op products, look to do business with co-ops right here in our local community and be an active member of your local electric co-op.