Dear Co-op Members,
The first successful cooperative, founded in Rochdale, England, in 1844, advocated for social change. This idea influenced future cooperatives around the world, and ours was no exception. Advocating for the needs of the communities we serve has been a foundation of our cooperative mission for more than 80 years, and I’d like to share with you some of the advocacy efforts we’re involved with today.
Spearheaded by our Director of Public Relations Allan Reetz, our cooperative is committed to systems advocacy, an effort to change policy and practice at the local, state, national, or international level. The overarching idea is to advocate for the needs of our communities within the broad framework of socioeconomic justice and human rights.
This level of advocacy is distinct from advocacy on behalf of an individual person. To quote UN Women, a branch of the United Nations committed to gender equality, “While systems advocacy works to improve the system to the benefit of individuals, it is a long-term approach to problem solving requiring sustained effort.”
Of course, there are many good causes to fight for. We have narrowed our advocacy work down to four issues that are important to many of our employees and members:
- workforce housing,
- wages and benefits,
- food security, and
- defining local.
We have chosen the issues above because they are highly interrelated: People can’t find jobs without housing. People can’t afford housing without decent wages and benefits. A decent wage is key to food security, or knowing where the next meal is coming from. And when that meal is sourced locally, which we believe is vital to the economy of a community, it’s important to define what local really means.
Our advocacy work is made possible thanks to our members’ commitment to the cooperative values and principles. Together, we’re all making a difference. Have thoughts or ideas about this? Reach out to me anytime. My door is always open.