Lessons of the Fall

Autumn cools and colors the landscape, reminding us to enjoy its fleeting beauty as we bring in the harvest … and prepare for the winter to come.

October 2019

Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Executive Editor

Ah, October. Balmy, blue-sky days. Oranges, reds, golds woven into the landscape’s tapestry. The tang of wood smoke salting the cool night air. Twinkling stars saturating October’s darker skies, her longer nights. And as dawn draws near, clusters of Orionid meteors arcing towards earth.

October sets the stage for the cold days to come, her showy leaves finally fading, then falling, to feed the earth ’neath winter’s snow.

In early spring, in April, the calendar year seems expansive, an endless greening horizon. Summer affirms the feeling, with long days, short nights, fruitful gardens, abundant crops.

Then fall arrives, and reminds us that her intense beauty, and the calendar year, are in fact fleeting. All too soon, the future is suddenly the present, the present too quickly the past.

Fall teaches us to expect change, to make plans, to bring in the harvest, to prepare for what’s to come, “ere the winter storms begin.”

And the harvest, of course, is almost always the result of labor, the labor of many hands. And that’s exactly how, and why, cooperatives work: all share in the effort, all benefit from the result.

So it’s altogether fitting that October is Cooperative Month, a time to celebrate the local ownership and local control at the heart of the cooperative business model. This business model helps many millions of people across the globe save money, time and effort every day.

Cooperatives meet needs as diverse as banking and babysitting, food and housing, commodities and communications and, of course, electricity. Your electric cooperative is one of over 900 spread across 48 of our 50 states, serving 42 million Americans. Each one is locally owned, locally controlled and dedicated to providing its member-consumers with the best possible service at the lowest possible cost.

As we’ve discussed in these pages many times over many years, each cooperative is unique, yet all share a commitment to essential core values. These Seven Cooperative Principles are:

  • voluntary and open membership;
  • democratic member control;
  • economic participation by the members;
  • autonomy and independence;
  • a commitment to member education and information;
  • cooperation among cooperatives; and
  • concern for community.

This last principle captures the essence of each cooperative’s mission, to improve the quality of life for its member-consumers and the communities where they live and work.

We all have much to celebrate during this year’s Cooperative Month, from freedoms unavailable or even unimaginable to most of the residents of this world, to family ties and friendships that remind us of life’s real treasures. During this month, we hope you experience and enjoy the cooling of the landscape and the coloring of its leaves.

October days are the calendar’s precious metals; we appreciate them because they’re beautiful, value them because they’re scarce. As America’s master poet Robert Frost aptly reminds us, “Nothing gold can stay.”