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by Share Brandt

Celebrating Co-op Independence

July is the time we celebrate our nation’s independence. In the midst of apple pies and hot dogs, fireworks shows and parades, I can’t help but think about the independent streak that inspired groups of farmers around America’s countryside to band together and improve their quality of life.

Aside from President Franklin Roosevelt’s promise of federal aid in the form of low-interest loans and engineering expertise, rural Americans didn’t have much help in bringing electricity to their homes. They pulled themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps and did it themselves.

This independence not only tends to inspire cooperatives, it’s a guiding principle. The Fourth Cooperative Principle, “Autonomy and Independence,” means that no matter what contracts your cooperative might enter into, the co-op will always remain an independent entity.

Each year, your cooperative’s annual meeting becomes an independence celebration. You vote for candidates on the board of directors and discuss co-op business. You share a meal and have some fun.

Electric cooperatives form a vast network across the country, from coast to coast. Co-op lines are strung in 47 states, serving 42 million people—a different world from 1935, when much of America remained dark. This Fourth of July, as we recognize the hard-fought war that created the United States, I’ll also tip my hat to all of the cooperative founders, who beat incredible odds to make life better for themselves and their neighbors.

What Are Your Thoughts?

The Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News is undergoing a study conducted by a team of our co-op staff, management, and board directors. A component of the study will be to ask readers their thoughts about the magazine content, format, and methods of delivery. We have done this before by sending a survey to our readers and asking them to return their responses. We have had excellent return on these surveys in the past that have provided guidance for adjustments that have been made over the life of the magazine.

Our plan this year is to do a sampling of our mailing list and randomly select members to volunteer for a brief telephone interview. We are just beginning the process to draft the interview questions keeping in mind that our readers do not want to spend a lot of time on the phone with our interviewers. I expect the survey to be completed by the end of this summer. If you are selected to receive a call I hope you will volunteer to offer your thoughts on our magazine. Together we have an opportunity to make our signature communication piece the best that it can be for our electric cooperative family of members. Thank you for your consideration to help us out.