In this electronic age, the electric cooperative annual
meeting may seem merely an old-fashioned, face-to-face reminder of how
business used to be conducted. Yet it remains both refreshing and resilient,
an American classic that proudly celebrates what’s possible when neighbor
joins neighbor in common cause.
The desire to assemble is as old as humankind. To
communicate. To commiserate. To celebrate.
We gather to share news and air views. To make good times
great and bad times better. The best gatherings seem to center on food.
Sharing a meal, after all, is one of the most basic human instincts, deeply
rooted in our DNA. We have the urge to reach out and offer to others food
that sustains the body, and conversation that feeds the mind, sometimes the
After all, and perhaps above all, we’re social animals.
Tweets and posts are fine, but they’re no substitute for spending time with
others, especially family, friends and neighbors.
For Americans, gathering together is more than an urge.
It’s a right. Guaranteed by the Founding Fathers is our right to assemble
with others, freely and peaceably. And have we ever taken advantage of this
Over the centuries, the melding of our natural
inclination to get together and our national right to do so has given birth
to several classic American gatherings. The town hall meeting. The protest
march. The public square debate.
And the electric cooperative annual meeting. Yes,
annually for over 75 years now, thousands upon thousands of rural,
small-town and suburban citizens have gathered in
almost 1,000 communities across the country, in 47 of our 50 states, to make
decisions about their consumer-owned utility. They gather in co-op meeting
rooms and garage bays, in school auditoriums, at open-air pavilions and
county fairgrounds, and in civic centers and community colleges. They share
fellowship and food with neighbors, oftentimes to the spirited sounds of
gospel, bluegrass or country music, from lively local performers.
They listen to reports from management about the
financial and operational condition of their utility. They elect the board
members who will represent their interests, and they vote on amendments or
additions to the bylaws that govern this utility that they own.
The electric co-op annual meeting is an old-fashioned
exercise in democracy both refreshing and resilient, a
living reminder of a time when civics was still widely taught in school;
when neighbors would gather face to face to catch up on news; and when
citizens would get together to make important decisions about their shared
welfare. About the community they called home.
As a locally owned and controlled business, the employees
and board members of your electric cooperative really do share a home with
you and all the other folks they serve.
Annual meeting season in our region begins in early June,
as spring’s gentle warmth wanes under the withering march of summer’s
searing heat. It continues till late September, when fall’s chill cools the
land and paints the leaves. During this stretch, each of Virginia’s 13 local
electric cooperatives will hold its annual members meeting.
You’re invited — indeed encouraged — to attend your
cooperative’s get-together, and to take part in the business of your
You’ll hear important reports about high-tech issues
affecting your cooperative. And just as importantly, you’ll become part of a
decidedly low-tech, classic American gathering, one that celebrates what’s
possible when neighbors join together, in common cause, whether to raise a
barn … hold back a rising river … or spread power across the land.