We recently wrapped up our annual Board of Directors election, and I’m thrilled to welcome our colleagues Rosemary Fifield, Victoria Fullerton, Don Kreis, and Jessica Saturley-Hall to the Board. I look forward to the spirit and energy each of these innovative, dedicated cooperators will bring to our new team of directors.
As many of you already know, this year’s election also attracted a new group of engaged, conscientious participants: children. Nearly 150 future cooperators participated in a fun, special election geared toward kids, an inspired approach to member outreach that introduced our youngest members to the principles of cooperative democracy.
This was more than just a fun exercise. Spearheaded by Emily Rogers and April Turner-Girard in our Outreach Department, the goal was to get kids excited about being part of a cooperative. Like April and Emily, we all have a responsibility to reach out to young people about the work we do and why we do it. The fifth Cooperative Principle states:
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public—particularly young people and opinion leaders—about the nature and benefits of co-operation. (Emphasis mine.)
I’m an educator by nature, and I believe this is an ideal time for this sort of outreach. Cynics love to point out today’s problems, but young people tend to focus on tomorrow’s solutions, which is where our energies need to be. Hope and idealism is a powerful force for change. To that end, all around the country, young people are mobilizing, finding their collective political voice, and participating in democracy. More power to them.
Our world thirsts for this, perhaps now more than ever. We need young people to bring their ideas and engagement to the world stage so they can help solve the complex problems created by the generations that came before them. Cooperatives can provide these young people with an outlet for their altruism and creative energy. It all starts by reaching out to them, one election, and one young person, at a time.
My thanks to all our members and employees for inspiring our future cooperators. Have more ideas about this? I’d love to hear about it. Reach out to me anytime. My door is always open to you.