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Americans are earning all or part of their income working for themselves. At the same time, a growing number of entrepreneurs of all ages, but particularly young people, are turning to cooperatives as the business model of choice. A great challenge that many people face when starting a co-op is where to fi nd credible information about the business model since it is rarely taught in schools. At the end of this article, you will fi nd a list of resources - but fi rst, let’s take a quick tour of some co-ops founded by young people. When Ruthy Woodring and Alex Jarret thought they could pick up trash, recyclables and food scraps for compost via bicycles, they called their city of Northampton, Mass. to approve the idea. The person on the other end of the line said, “You want to do what?” Today, hundreds of families and all the municipal garbage cans located throughout the town use The Pedal People Cooperative to dispose of their waste via specially designed bike trailers that operate year-round, including throughout the New England winter. The work is physically demanding, so the majority of the 15 employees (who are also the owners) are part time. Austin, Texas is known for many things, including the city’s slogan, “Keep Austin


different types of co-ops in the U.S., it’s the time of year to celebrate what membership truly means. You could be a member of a lot of different places - a gym, a 4-H club, a food of the month club - the list goes on and on! According to a recent study, “Freelancing in America, A National Survey of the New Workforce,” some 53 million


October is National Cooperative Month, and for the many


Statement of Nondiscrimination


“This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


If you wish to fi le a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at http://www.ascr. usda.gov/complaint_fi ling_cust.html, or at any USDA offi ce, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Offi ce of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250- 9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at program.intake@usda.gov.”


Weird,” so it’s probably no surprise that the nation’s fi rst cooperatively-owned brew pub began here. Black Star Co-op brews its own beer and serves very tasty food. It is owned by the consumers that elect its board of directors. The board delegates operations to the workers assembly that ensures all the employees have a real voice in how the business operates. Since Black Star’s opening, other cooperative brewpubs have surfaced in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Washington. Designed to build better alignment between the consumer and the workers, all of the businesses pledge to pay a “Living Wage,” which allows full-time employees to earn enough money to cover typical living expenses. Many young members of electric co-ops get their fi rst taste of creating a cooperative from the Youth Tour program. Harmon Electric annually sends two students on a week-long trip to Washington, D.C. and two students to a Leadership Summit in Steamboat Springs, CO. As part of their education process, the high school students often will establish soda pop or candy co-ops during the week. The profi ts or margins are then distributed back to the members in proportion to their use. It is a simple but effective way of demonstrating how a co-op operates.


Across the globe, people are coming together and turning to co-ops as the solution.


Resources for starting a co-op: Cooperation Works! A national network of regional centers that provides technical and operational assistance at very low cost, focusing on rural areas. http://www.cooperationworks.coop/ U.S. Federation of Worker Co-operatives provides resources and consulting for groups of people looking to start worker-owned cooperatives http://usworker.coop/ For more information on the organizations featured, please visit the following websites: https://www.pedalpeople.coop/; http://www.blackstar.coop/; http://www.nreca.coop/what-we-do/youth-programs/


HARMON ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION, INC 114 North First Hollis, OK 73550


Operating in


Beckham, Harmon, Jackson, Kiowa and Greer Counties in Oklahoma and Hardeman and Childress Counties in Texas


Member of Western Farmers Electric Cooperative Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives National Rural Electric Cooperative Association National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc. Oklahoma Rural Water Association, Inc.


Don’t let vampires suck the life out of your energy effi ciency eff orts! Unplugging unused electronics - otherwise known as “energy vampires” - can save you as much as 10 percent on your electric bill.


HARMON ELECTRIC HI-LITES - Lisa Richard, Editor The Harmon Electric Hi-Lites is the publication of your local owned and operated rural electric cooperative, organized and incorporated under the laws of Oklahoma to serve you with low-cost electric power.


Charles Paxton ......................................................................................... Manager


BOARD OF TRUSTEES Pete Lassiter ..................................................................................................District 1 Jim Reeves ....................................................................................................District 2 Lee Sparkman ...............................................................................................District 3 Bob Allen .......................................................................................................District 4 Burk Bullington ..............................................................................................District 5 Jean Pence ....................................................................................................District 6 J. R. Conley ...................................................................................................District 7 Charles Horton .............................................................................................. Attorney


Monthly Board of Directors meetings Held Fourth Thursday of Each Month


IF YOUR ELECTRICITY GOES OFF, REPORT THE OUTAGE


We have a 24-hour answering service to take outage reports and dispatch service- men. Any time you have an outage to report in the Hollis or Gould exchange area, call our offi ce at 688-3342. Any other exchange


area call toll free, 1-800-643-7769.


TO REPORT AN OUTAGE, CALL 688-3342 or 1-800-643-7769 ANYTIME


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