With climate change at the forefront of recent news reports, cooperatives and credit unions in New England and around the world are celebrating International Co-op Day on Saturday, July 5, 2014. This year’s theme “Co-operative Enterprises Achieve Sustainable Development for All” highlights the contribution of cooperative enterprises to a healthier environment and a more resilient economy.
“It is very timely that Co-op Day is focused on sustainability,” said Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), which includes over 30 food co-ops and start-up initiatives across New England, locally owned by more than 90,000 people. “And it is an opportunity for our food co-ops to share the work they do every day to build more sustainable local economies and communities.”
In 1992, the United Nations formally recognized International Co-op Day as the first Saturday in July, joining the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) in a celebration established in 1923. Because Co-op Day often coincides with Independence Day in the United States, the event offers a unique opportunity to celebrate both political and economic democracy. Based on the principle of one member one vote, businesses that are cooperatively owned reflect American ideals such as democracy, self-help, self-responsibility and social responsibility. Also, since co-ops are focused on meeting member needs, these businesses can focus on priorities other than maximization of profit or growth.
In 2013, the ICA released its “Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade” which seeks to raise the profile of co-ops and their role in addressing contemporary challenges like climate change. In Keene, the Monadnock Food Co-op was awarded the 2014 Monadnock Green Business of the Year Award, demonstrating its commitment to environmental and social responsibility: www.monadnockfood.coop/green.