Hello fellow Cooperators!
For quite a few years now, I have been convinced that what Vermont's cooperatives really need is some kind of statewide, cross-sectoral association that would serve not just as a means of building community and solidarity but would, even more importantly, also make the cooperative sector of the Vermont economy truly visible in the halls of state government and other important places. Yes, most if not all of the individual sectors already has an association -- there's the Association of Vermont Credit Unions, the Neighboring Food Co-ops Association, a nascent association of worker co-ops. and of course all kinds of contact between the state's two electric co-ops. But there is nothing out there that identifies and promotes the common interests of co-ops throughout Vermont.
That's a shame. The public policy of our state is very congenial to the cooperative form of doing business. But there is much that could be improved. Securities law, labor law, economic development programs, banking statutes that disadvantage credit unions, and the ever-present need to protect the sanctity of the word "cooperative" itself (as used in commerce) -- these are all challenges that are not being addressed today. And of course there is tremendous value in the simple act of those whose work embraces the Cooperative Values and Principles simply coming to know each other and finding their common ground.
Happily, for the past couple of years, a bunch of us have been conspiring to bring such an association -- tentatively if not permanently known as Cooperative Vermont -- to fruition. We have a facebook page that you can visit. And, more importantly, we are having our second statewide gathering on Saturday, October 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Montpelier.
I have sent a personal invitation to most of the co-ops in Vermont to which I have personal ties. But if you are finding out about the gathering via this blog post, and are interested in having your co-op send a representative, please get in touch with me and I will send you the particulars. I know there are only 52 Saturdays in a year, and a gazillion weekend meetings clamoring for your attention at times when you really ought to be frolicking with your loved ones. But we won't take up your whole day -- and I promise this gathering will be inspiring, fun, and anything but a waste of your time. Besides, the foliage will be done by then. And who cares about foliage anyway?