Our Poles Have Roots!
by Clarice L. Kesler
|From left: Together, Maxine Rognlien, director; Kristi Hoff, employee (both with Verendrye Electric Cooperative); and Leann Mellum, Norsk Høstfest marketing director, are a fine example of how cooperatives are committed to their communities. Norsk Høstfest is a Scandinavian festival now in its 42nd year, and Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives is a major event sponsor. It draws people from all over the world and is a boost for the local economy. Through the guidance of member-directors, employees work with community leaders to show community support, such as the example of Norsk Høstfest. Cooperative employees also volunteer in communities across North Dakota on ambulance squads, school boards and more – truly living examples of the co-op principles and core values at work.
Photo by NDAREC/Clarice Kesler
Ah, North Dakota. Where mustard fields meet an azure sky. Where among this mystic horizon, you’ll often see miles and miles of power lines. Where the poles, if you dig a little deeper, have roots.
These roots reach back to the 1930s, when rural folks banded together to form co-ops and bring power to the people.
This nonprofit electric delivery system is unique. It sets co-ops apart from other utilities, like investor-owned utilities (IOUs). At IOUs, stockholders determine the direction. At electric cooperatives, the members guide the business. Co-ops work best through cooperation among those who use their services.
In that same spirit of unity, co-ops also cooperate with other co-ops.
A golden example is a national network called Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives. It is the co-brand you’ll often see attached to your local co-op’s logo. But what does it mean exactly?
Co-ops across the country formed this national brand in 1998. Through research with members, the name, brand and tagline were formed.
Electric cooperatives chose “Touchstone” as the name, because it means the highest or “gold” standard.
Touchstone Energy Cooperatives is a relationship brand, reflected by its tagline, “The Power of Human Connections.” The three people symbolized in the brand’s logo represent directors, employees and members. This is the real power of electric co-ops – the people they serve.
To be designated a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, co-ops must commit to a core set of values: integrity, innovation, accountability and commitment to community. The entire brand, and services it provides, rests on those values.
“Joining Touchstone Energy Cooperative brings electric co-ops together. It also unites us in operating under four common principles and gives us the opportunity to deliver a common message to our members,” says Randy Hauck, general manager of Verendrye Electric Cooperative, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative.
Touchstone Energy Cooperatives provides valuable resources to its members, like communications materials and tools for energy efficiency programs. It also conducts research and development and reinforces community development.
With over 700 electric co-ops in 46 states, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives is the largest utility network in the United States. Visit www.TouchstoneEnergy.com to learn more.
ROOTED IN UNITY
With over 700 electric co-ops in 46 states, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives is the largest utility network in the United States. North Dakota’s electric cooperatives benefit through participation in a national network. Now, co-ops have a local presence backed by resources from a larger, national system. This helps cooperatives continue to supply reliable, low-cost power to electric cooperative member-owners across the country.
The story of co-ops is rooted in unity. People coming together, working together and growing together for the benefit of all.
The strongest communities share more than just affordable electricity. They share the same values. Touchstone Energy Cooperatives has helped electric co-ops pass along both for generations.