Page 37

Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Cooperative Alliance, spoke to electric cooperative leaders at NRECA’s 2012 Annual Meeting. Sources: NRECA

Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Cooperative Alliance, celebrated IYC 2012 with electric cooperative leaders at the annual meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the Arlington, Va.-based national service organization representing more than 900 consumer-owned, not-forprofit electric cooperatives, public power districts, and public utility districts. Green said the fact that electric co-ops serve 42 million people “shows that even in the most developed country in the world, the cooperative model of business has a proven track record of commercial success and deep roots in local communities.”

Spilling the (co-op) beans!

tric Membership Corporation. The effort, nicknamed, “Hoosiers Power the World,” was coordinated through NRECA International Programs, a division of NRECA created 50 years ago to assist developing countries in delivering safe, reliable, and affordable electricity. After several intense weeks of scaling ravines and climbing poles set on cliffs, the Indiana electric co-op contingent connected 170 families to life-changing electricity. But the cooperative business model goes a step further. More than a thousand small-scale cooperative coffee producers in southwestern Guatemala receive a fair price for their coffee, affordable credit, and more through a partnership with Equal Exchange. Owned by 103 workers and based south of Boston, Mass., Equal Exchange helped start the Fair Trade movement 25 years ago. Through their fair trade imports of coffee and other goods like olive oil, bananas, and chocolate, the co-op offer consumers a way to connect with, and support, farmer co-ops in developing countries. “The cooperative model offers an important vehicle for economic empowerment,” explains Rodney North, spokesperson for Equal Exchange. “Working with small farmer cooperatives strengthens rural communities worldwide, protects the environment, and helps builds a just and sustainable food system.”

build local communities in many ways, including volunteering with Boys and Girls clubs, serving on the boards of the United Way and other charities, and tackling economic development challenges through chambers of commerce.

‘My Co-op Rocks’

Grocery co-ops give members something to sing about through the bi-annual “My Co-op Rocks” video and photo contest at Organized by the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), the program rewards creative co-op members with up to $1,500 in co-op gift certificates; winnings can also be donated to a non-profit organization. “So many people simply aren’t aware of what a cooperative is, how co-ops operate, or how many opportunities they have to become involved with co-ops in their own communities,” explains Kelly Smith, director of marketing & communications for NCGA. “The more that co-op members engage with this contest and similar events designed to build awareness, the better. We are Stronger Together!” The latest round of the competition kicked off on Sept. 1, and entries can be submitted through the end of October. “If you think your co-op rocks, tell us why! Creating a video to celebrate the impact your co-op makes in your community is a fun way to share the co-op story with your friends, family, and the co-op nation as a whole,” encourages Smith. “Post your video or photo today!”

Great coffee offers a strong aroma, complex flavors, and a hint of cooperation. While a cup of joe may be a morning staple in the Western world, some coffee Powering communities Engaged electric co-op members attend growers providing that critical caffeine boost don’t enjoy simple luxuries like elec- annual meetings and use the power of the tricity. A perfect case study of cooperatives cooperative network to have their voices Connect to co-ops Are you looking for way to change in powering a community and empowering heard by elected officials. Electric co-op employees represent member interests and your community? Team up with cooperamembers is in the Central Ameritives in your area; to find cooperacan nation of Guatemala. tives near you, visit You For four weeks this fall, the Incan also learn more about co-ops dianapolis-based Indiana Statewide at, which highlights a Association of Rural Electric Codifferent cooperative every day. operatives sent 32 volunteer linemen and support staff from various Hoosier State co-ops to three Sources: University of Wisconsin, small coffee-producing villages NRECA International, Equal in the mountainous Guatemalan Exchange, National Cooperative province of Huehuetnango (proBusiness Association nounced way-way-ten-nang-oh). Megan McKoy-Noe, CCC, writes “I want to make things better on consumer and cooperative for those folks, and I feel really affairs for the National Rural These Guatemalan farmers sell coffee beans to Equal Electric Cooperative Association, privileged to be able to go,” comthe Arlington, Va.-based service Exchange through the Asociación Chajulense Va’l Vaq ments Stephen Campbell, a line organization for the nation’s Qujol, nicknamed ‘Chajul.’ foreman with Martinsville.-based 900-plus consumer-owned, notSources: equal exchange for-profit electric cooperatives. South Central Indiana Rural ElecAlabama Living

october 2012  37

Alabama Living SMEC October 2012  
Alabama Living SMEC October 2012  

Alabama Living SMEC October 2012