By Syd Briggs,
You may recall last month, my column touched on the first three cooperative principles, so as cooperative month concludes, I’d like to reflect on the remaining four principles, as they, like the previous three, are essential to the co-op business model, benefit all members of the co-op, and make me thankful for all stakeholders in the co-op nation.
Autonomy and Independence
The fourth principle, Autonomy and Independence, means the co-op operates in an autonomous way that is solely directed and guided by its members, reflecting the values and needs of our local communities in our service area. This means the co-op is not being influenced by leaders or shareholders several states away. Instead, the co-op is led by the local members it serves.
Education and Training
The fifth principle, Education and Training, focuses on enhancing the knowledge of co-op employees and board members, which enables them to contribute to the development of the co-op.
By investing in continuous learning for our employees and board members, our co-op is making a commitment not just to individual professional and personal growth, but to the future of the co-op and the high quality of service our members expect and deserve. It’s a win-win situation.
We also strive to inform our members, which is you, and the public about the mission and operations of the co-op. In fact, that’s why you receive a Sparks newsletter each month, so we can share the latest co-op news and updates, as well as energy efficiency and safety tips.
Cooperation among Cooperatives
Cooperation among cooperatives is the sixth principle and fosters the way co-ops work together to address bigger challenges. While this principle applies to all types of cooperatives, it is especially relevant in the energy industry. In our case, we put this principle in action after major storms and disasters that cause widespread power outages. When this happens, we call on nearby co-ops to come to our aid and assist with restoration efforts—and we of course extend the same help to them when they need us. I can’t think of a better example of cooperation among cooperatives.
In addition, because we are part of the national electric co-op network, we can connect and collaborate with other electric co-ops to tackle industry-related challenges, like cybersecurity and an ever-changing energy landscape.
Concern for Community
The seventh principle, Concern for Community, is essential to who we are as cooperatives. We serve our local communities not only by being an essential service, but by helping to power our local economy, whether through economic development, volunteerism, or donations to local causes.
I believe you’ll find that most cooperatives bring good people together to make good things happen in the local communities. We hope you feel that way about us, your local electric co-op.
On behalf of everyone at Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric, we’re thankful for your membership, and hope you have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.