Co-operators in the USA are celebrating National Cooperative Month in October with events across the country.
This year’s theme is “Co-operatives Build”, with sub-themes such as Co-operatives Build Trust, Co-operatives Build Communities, Co-operatives Build Jobs and Co-operatives Build a Better World.
“Co-operatives build in so many ways, so we encourage co-operatives to insert what they feel their co-op helps build as part of the broad theme,” said Jenny Bernhardt, chair of the Co-op Month Planning Committee.
The month has been celebrated at national level since 1964, when it was launched by secretary of agriculture Orville Freeman. Regional celebrations were being held before then, however, with Minnesota the first state to declare an official Co-op Month proclamation in 1948.
The government sponsored the Co-op Month until 1970. Since then, co-operatives and federations, along with the National Cooperative Business Association, have organised their own events to celebrate the country’s 29,000 co-operative businesses, which have 350 million members, generate $514bn in revenue and pay more than $25bn in wages.
“The key thing is that your co-op plan some type of communications effort to help spread the word in October about why co-operatives are so important to your community, region and to the nation,” said Ms Bernhardt, director of communications for Cooperative Network, a regional association of co-operatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The planning committee has created a toolkit for the month, with promotional and educational materials including a logo, posters, print and radio public service announcements, a sample press release, sample Co-op Month proclamation, social media resources, co-op success stories, talking points and activity ideas.
“National, regional and local polls consistently show that Americans really like the idea of doing business with a co-operative,” said Ms Bernhardt, “but so many people still don’t understand what co-ops are.
“That’s what Cooperative Month is all about: to help attract attention to the many benefits of the producer, worker and user-owned business model, and letting people know that co-operatives are all around them.”
Events include Co-op Fest, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which brings together members from 10 co-operatives. The event, on 8 October, features a keynote speech from Anne Reynolds, executive director of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Cooperatives.
Meanwhile, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), which includes more than 35 food co-ops and start-up initiatives, is encouraging members to showcase their stories.
“Across New England, food co-ops help people build community,” said Erbin Crowell, executive director of the NFCA. “For example, the majority of our member co-ops have been in business for over 30 years, providing healthy food, jobs and a market for local producers for decades.”
Canada’s co-ops are also celebrating the movement with Co-op week, from 16 to 22 of October. This year’s theme is Our Co-op Advantage, with Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada asking members to share their views on why they have chosen to do business co-operatively, sharing event dates and photos.
In this article
- Anne Reynolds
- British co-operative movement
- Business models
- communications effort
- Consumers' co-operative
- Cooperative Network
- Director of Communications
- Erbin Crowell
- food co-ops
- healthy food
- Housing cooperative
- Market socialism
- National Cooperative Business Association
- New England
- The Co-operative Group
- United States
- University of Wisconsins Center
- University of Wisconsins Center for Cooperatives
- North America
- United States
- Top Stories