Building community through energy

By Ronald Fisher 5/13/2019

When I joined The Energy Co-op at the beginning of this year, our cooperative consisted of about 5,200 active members, eight board members, seven staff members, and dozens of both business and strategic partners.

Our mission has always been a simple one—to assist those living in southeastern Pennsylvania to buy and use energy as sustainably and affordably as possible, and to help our members and the broader community understand energy better. This is our 40th year of doing so. We have some members who have been with us since the beginning, and many more who have joined us more recently. And because the power of any cooperative derives from the commitment and dedication of its membership, this year, we as a team are focused on engaging with our members more often and in-person.

On my second day as Executive Director, we invited every Energy Co-op member to meet with us to discuss how we do what we do and how they think we can do it better. Dozens of members accepted that invitation and we had the privilege of meeting them on three occasions, answering their questions, and, more importantly, listening to what they had to say. What we heard was that many members wanted to be more involved, including to help us spread the word about our cooperative alternative for energy.

In response, we formed a new member development committee, made up of member volunteers with the goal of expanding The Energy Co-op’s reach and presence in the community. In the coming weeks, that committee will hold its inaugural meeting to discuss, among other things, how best to leverage the commitment and dedication of The Energy Co-op’s membership in order to advance its mission. We are starting small with this new endeavor. But in time, we would hope to have volunteers throughout the Philadelphia region who help us to expand our cooperative community.

Next month (on June 20st at the Friends’ Center in Philadelphia) we will convene our Annual Member Meeting, at which The Energy Co-op’s members will have the opportunity to meet each other, hear about the current state of the association, ask questions about what we have done and what we plan to do, and elect our Board of Directors. At this year’s meeting, we are hosting an hour-long, energy networking event to which we are inviting our partners and energy industry friends and supporters in addition to our members. So, those members who attend the Annual Member Meeting will have the opportunity to get to know those who help us fulfill our mission to help Pennsylvanians buy affordable, sustainable energy and—who knows—perhaps identify opportunities for us all.

Meanwhile, throughout the spring and summer, our staff members have been attending, and will continue to attend, numerous events throughout the Delaware Valley, including the Philadelphia Science Festival, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Party for the Planet, the Upper Merion Township Earth Day Festival, and many others to fulfill our mission to educate the community about energy while meeting our current members and recruiting new ones to join the cooperative. A list of past and upcoming events can be found on our events calendar here. We encourage members to participate in these worthwhile gatherings and to stop by, introduce themselves, and try their hand at our Energy Jeopardy game.

But this is only the beginning of The Energy Co-op’s year-long focus on energizing (excusing the pun) our cooperative community’s members and stakeholders. Over the summer, we will be working with our Board to plan a special get-together to be held this fall to celebrate The Energy Co-op’s 40th anniversary. In addition, we plan to host several open houses here at our centrally located, freshly painted offices on Walnut Street so that you can see where we do what do and meet our staff members and others in our cooperative community.

As noted where I began, there are 5,200 members in our community and just seven on staff. We are working to increase our member outreach—through our monthly newsletter, our blog, and through social media in addition to emails on specific topics. But we also invite you to do the same. Attend our Annual Members Meeting on June 20th and the networking event that will precede it. Stop by our offices to say hello during weekday business hours and bring a friend. Spread the word about who we are, why you like The Energy Co-op, and what we are building together. We look forward to seeing more of our members in 2019 and working together to grow our cooperative in the years to come.