What more could we ask from autumn than its bright foliage, crisp evenings, and landscape dotted with apples and pumpkins? One more reason to celebrate: October is National Co-op Month.
I’m a big fan of cooperatives and the co-op model of business, and for good reason. Co-ops provide people, regardless of their economic status, the opportunity to own a business established by its members, controlled by its members, and for the benefit of its members.
A co-op’s democratic governance promises that all voices are heard, buying power is leveraged, economic independence is gained, and leaders are developed through the collective vision of shared goals.
Here in New Hampshire, resident-owned communities (ROCs) have flourished as housing cooperatives for more than 30 years without a failure, which speaks volumes about cooperative success. ROC co-ops were formed to provide affordable, secure, housing to their members; build assets to improve the condition of their communities; and increase members’ economic self-sufficiency through their engagement and empowerment.
Like our country, the bedrock of these thriving co-op democracies is that the organizations are of the people, by the people, for the people. Cooperatives deserve their own month in the spotlight, but the celebration and support can occur all year long.
Have you heard of the other cooperatives throughout the state? Food co-ops, utility co-ops, credit unions, and retail stores are operating by the cooperative model every day.
In the coming months, we’ll look at ways co-ops can connect with one another, supporting these vital businesses well beyond October. Our friends at Cooperatives for a Better World are building a website that highlights co-ops in every region of the country and world, making a search for co-ops easy. We’ll be sure to share more information soon.
Here’s to an enjoyable fall with jack-o-lanterns, apple crisp—and a celebration of all things cooperative.
Kelli Cicirelli is a ROC-NH™ Senior Organizational Trainer.
ROC-NH™ is a program of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, Inc. and a ROC USA® Certified Technical Assistance Provider.
ROC-NH is a registered service mark of ROC USA, LLC.