There’s an old American proverb that “the best things in
life are free.” This sentiment has been celebrated in the world of both
cinema and song over the last half-century, and its accuracy seems almost an
article of faith, especially for Americans, who still to this day regularly
work it into daily conversation.
Usually mentioned in any “best things are free” list are
such human basics as love and laughter, compliments and commiseration,
passion and purpose.
Also among the things that make us human is a curiosity to
hear about, read about, and talk about other people. Everyone’s got an
interesting story. Finding it, and telling it, is the job of the journalist.
Sharing such stories 10 times a year through the pages of
your customer-owned utility’s magazine is the job savored by those of us
privileged to work on Cooperative Living. And because your
cooperative works together with 11 others across Virginia—pooling
circulation and sharing some content—this magazine is delivered to your
mailbox at a cost equivalent to a postage stamp, plus a nickel.
That’s right; for 49 cents, your electric cooperative is
able to produce, print and mail to you the magazine you’re now reading. It’s
a bargain made possible by your cooperative’s unyielding commitment to the
“Seven Cooperative Principles” that guide the decision-making process for
cooperative businesses worldwide. Three of these seven principles are
directly responsible for Cooperative Living’s existence, and have
driven our editorial decisions since the very first issue was published in
1946, in the warm afterglow of Allied victory in World War II.
Providing the rich soil in which this magazine has always
been rooted are these three principles: to keep the customer-owners informed
about their business; to cooperate with other cooperatives where possible to
save time, money and effort; and to work for the sustainable development of
the communities that we serve. The other four bedrock principles on which
cooperatives are based are: voluntary, open membership; democratic
control; keeping the cooperative autonomous and independent; and economic
participation by the co-op’s customer-owners.
In a near-perfect harmony of individual interest and
common good, the cooperative business model provides service at cost to its
customers, and democratic control to its owners, who are of course one and
the same. Being a customer owner of an autonomous
local business also provides an additional advantage: You’re receiving
service from cooperative staff members who also live and work in the same
community that you and your family do.
Cooperative Living magazine has been a regular
visitor to homes and businesses across Virginia
for 65 years now. The sweep of cooperative service territories in the state
is vast: our nearly 500,000 customer-owners range up and down the Shenandoah
Valley, across much of Northern Virginia and the Northern Neck, over the
entire Eastern Shore, through long stretches of Central and Southside
Virginia, even reaching to the far Southwestern tip of the state, where the
Cumberland Gap knits Kentucky and Tennessee to the Old Dominion.
Through three generations, we’ve endeavored to keep you
informed about what truly is your
business. At times that includes publishing legally required notices
to our customer-owners. It regularly
includes providing you with information about the finances and
operations of your cooperative utility. And throughout our long publishing
history, we’ve also tried to capture the essence of the communities served
by Virginia’s cooperatives, communities whose citizens joined together in
the 1930s and ’40s to create their own cooperative utility to provide
themselves with a service they would not otherwise have had, electricity.
Thus, we also regularly feature an array of reader
favorites: profiles of small towns and large difference-makers, of bedrock
businesses and promising start-ups, and of civic groups and civic-minded
people, all of them embodying and celebrating community spirit. Of course,
community spirit always involves working with others for the good of the
group. And it’s that very spirit that led and continues to lead Virginia’s
electric cooperatives to bundle 12 print orders into one, thereby producing
a dozen similar-but-unique editions of a magazine, at considerable savings
We hope you find the magazine’s cost of “a postage stamp,
plus a nickel” to represent a value added service to you and your family, a
good value to your cooperative, and a tangible testament to the power of