In a prosperous age such as ours, there are
increasingly few “bargains.” But if someone asked, what are the biggest
bargains in your life, how would you respond? Perhaps you’d note that food
is still a fabulous bargain in this country, as is electricity. Also, you
might mention public schools and public transportation.
You might also mention how books, borrowed or bought,
can provide enjoyment and mind expansion for long stretches. Also, that
music CDs and movie DVDs can provide hours of entertainment.
Then, too, you might remember the humble postage stamp,
which, even with an increase on January 8 to 39 cents, can perform
miraculous feats of elegant economy, taking a love letter, or thank-you
note, or bill due and payable from one end of this magnificent country to
the other. And it performs this feat for less than the price of a cup of
coffee (especially the kind of fancy lattés I enjoy at a certain national
coffee house that begins and ends with the letter following “R”).
We hope that you view the magazine you’re holding in
your hands right now as a bargain, too. For the cost of a stamp plus a dime,
49 cents, your cooperative is able to design, develop, and deliver, to your
doorstep, the Cooperative Living magazine you’re now reading. To publish
Cooperative Living and deliver it to you 10 times a year costs a total of
$4.90. Therefore, the total cost for a year’s worth of Cooperative Living
magazines is less than the cost of a single copy of many, if not most, other
magazines. Which, of course, begs the question: How the heck is that even
The answer: The Cooperative Way. Translated
specifically to the business model of electric cooperatives, it means that
co-ops work together to obtain goods or services more efficiently and less
expensively than any of them could do alone. It’s one of the 7 Cooperative
Principles that guide our business decisions every day. Principle #6,
Cooperation Among Cooperatives, calls for co-ops to work together for the
good of all, whenever and wherever possible.
Applied to everyday life, it means working with your
neighbor to buy in bulk, and save everyone money. This magazine began almost
60 years ago as a way for three small cooperatives to communicate with a few
thousand member-consumers. Today, Cooperative Living is the primary
communications channel for 12 fast-growing electric cooperatives across
Virginia, from the Cumberland Gap in the far southwest corner, to
Chincoteague Island on the Commonwealth’s Eastern Shore.
And the circulation that started at about 20,000 in
1946 today totals over 360,000, giving Cooperative Living —your
cooperative connection — the largest circulation of any publication in
Virginia, newspaper or magazine, daily, weekly, or monthly.
Of course, the whole reason for our existence at all is
because of Cooperative Principle #5: Education, Training, and Information.
This principle outlines the obligation of each cooperative to keep its
member-consumers closely informed about their cooperative, which after all
is their business.
For those who like the whole story, the other five
Cooperative Principles are as follows: #1, Voluntary and Open Membership;
#2, Democratic Member Control; #3, Members’ Economic Participation
(members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the
cooperative); #4, Autonomy and Independence (cooperatives are autonomous,
controlled by their members and not by outside entities); and #7, Concern
for Community. This last one is also a prime reason for publishing a regular
magazine like Cooperative Living, a magazine that works hard to stitch
together in words and pictures the people and places that make Virginia’s
rural areas and small towns such great places to live, work, raise a family,
But at the most basic level, and as the reason why
local Virginia cooperatives got together in 1946 to begin issuing a member
publication, Cooperative Living’s mission is to keep you up-to-date on
news affecting your electric utility. If we’re able to do this main job
reasonably well, then we’re pleased.
If, however, the magazine assumes a broader role; if we
also provide you with a momentary respite from the travails of the world; if
we give you a nugget of information that saves you a few dollars; if we
avoid cheap sentimentality and still bring a smile to your face or a tear to
your eye; if we give you a new way of looking at an old topic; or if we
inspire you or lift your spirits, well, then, YOU will have made OUR day.
So, is Cooperative Living worth a stamp and a dime, and
a bit of your time? We hope so. Last year, almost 6,000 readers took the
time to contact us, through a phone call, a letter, a postcard, a fax, or an
e-mail. As we celebrate our 60th year of publication, we would love nothing
better than to hear from even more of our readers, including you, telling us
what we can do to make your magazine even more of a bargain.