Who steers our magazine content and the type of services we offer? Utility communicators like you! Our Communications Committee met in Portland, Oregon this week. Curious? Here are a few of their ideas for our Co-op’s exciting future:

  • “Share your Story” booth: a banner and support materials helps your members connect with their local writers. (Great idea from Todd at Douglas Electric!)
  • T-shirt designs focusing on the seven co-op principles.
  • Dual-purpose calenders could feature annual reports, member handbooks or meet other member communication needs’.
  • An idea book could feature templates of materials such as annual reports, brochures, holiday celebrations, safety information and more.

Jim Donahue was elected as the new chair of the committee, while Corby Gardner was elected as vice chair. After leading the committee for the last two years, Jeff Cromie passed the gavel to Jim Donahue. Corby was elected vice chair. Thanks for your service, Jeff Cromie. Congratulations Jim and Corby!

Meet Your Committee


blog2A special thanks to our Communications Committee volunteers. These talented members contribute their creativity and industry expertise to help us deliver creative communication solutions: Corinne Bradish – Golden Valley, Alaska

Jim DonahueGrand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Associaiton, Arizona

Corby GardnerPlumas Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative, California

Jeff Brewington (in attendance for Mark Sellers) – Glades Electric, Florida

Elissa GlassmanNorthern Lights Electric Cooperative, Idaho

Jeff CromieWells Rural Electric Cooperative, Nevada

Dave D’AvanzoLane Electric Cooperative, Oregon

Troy BerglundBenton Rural Electric Association, Washington

James RamseyerConsumers Power, Oregon

Barbara Johnson Tillamook PUD, Oregon

Your feedback helps fuel our communication success. How can we help you? Share your thoughts below or reach us directly at social@ruralite.org.

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Parkland Light & Water Co. turned 100 with style on March 25. Parkland members and staff went to extraordinary lengths to honor the history and current enviable status of the Washington state mutual company. They toasted their company with glasses of sparkling cider. They shouted “hip, hip, hurray” three times on cue. And Manager Mark Johnson did more than submit the usual president’s report. He sang.

Besides being the oldest mutual utility in the nation, Parkland has other reasons to celebrate its unique brand of service. It is one of few co-ops to operate an entirely underground electric system. But the reason for its founding in 1914 would be familiar to all who know the amazing history of public power. Decades before most electric co-ops were founded as a result of the Rural Electrification Administration, rural Parkland residents formed their own utility for the same reason: the large urban utility next door would not extend its service to the “sticks.”

A harpists’ soft music greeted the hundreds of people who filled the high school cafeteria. The event continued with singing, food, reports and a short video.  Camaraderie flowed through the room. People may still talk about this event in 2114, after Parkland’s next 100 years.

—Jeff Durham, Ruralite Services









  • We love the historic portraits of the first board members in Parkland’s 2013 Annual Report
  •  Looking for celebration ideas? Our friends at NRECA share ideas on Cooperative.com (NRECA members only)
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callout-stove-projectWhy settle for cards on Mother’s Day? Buy coffee and join an email list to make life better for co-op moms in Uganda.

Our sister co-op, Equal Exchange, works with small, farmer-owned cooperatives around the world. Their Fair Trade chocolate, coffee and tea proves cooperation tastes great!

Many remote co-op families (especially moms) live under harsh conditions. To honor them on Mother’s Day, Equal Exchange is raising $4,000 to provide healthy, energy-efficient wood stoves for 100 households in Uganda’s Gumutindo coffee cooperative.

As part of Ruralite Services’ commitment to community, we’re sponsoring two stoves. We also promised our friends at Equal Exchange that we’d spread the word!

How to help: 

  • Stock your co-op break room with Proud Mama coffee. For every can sold, they’ll donate $1 to the cause. It’s a double-win for the Gumutindo moms–their co-op’s fairly traded coffee is used for this blend.
  • Sign up for Equal Exchange’s newsletter. For each new email address, they’ll donate 25¢. Added bonus? You’ll find out how your community can connect to farmer co-ops around the world. You’ll also get a snapshot of how Fair Trade and farmer co-ops enable families to have greater control over their economic future. Sign up here: EqualExchange.coop/Support-Moms.

Co-operation is Sweet. Spread the word!
As a sweet thank you to co-ops that pledge to spread the word, Equal Exchange will ship chocolate to your office. Really. Want to help? Send your mailing address to Rodney North, Equal Exchange’s Answer Man.

Ready? Set? Co-operate! 

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Want your utility message to take root and grow in the community? Engage consumers! Darryl at Mountain View Electric Association, CO asked how to launch member engagement efforts. I’ve got three favorite examples:

I love that the ambassadors for Verendrye Electric Co-op have set term limits and get paid to help out, especially at the co-op’s annual meeting. Jonathan at Peninsula Light sends his ambassadors great legislative information twice a year–I never thought of doing that!

When I worked for a distribution co-op in Georgia, we hosted member dinners twice a year and shared the latest co-op news with our members. These folks were our staunchest supporters in the community. Board directors selected folks for the member advisory group from their service area. Some folks stayed year after year; we didn’t rotate members every three years like Verendrye.

Anyone else have a great example of a member advisory group? We’d love to learn from you!


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Show and tell time!

Posted By on Mar 11, 2014

We had to share this photo. Sharon is showing off the custom magnetic vehicle signs we just finished producing for West Oregon Electric.






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201403_SOMSusan Hess‘ story of a man walking around the world won our March Story of the Month contest (read Susan’s story, “Travels Around the World”). Susan is the writer for Hood River Electric Co-op in Hood River, Oregon. Denise Porter won the March Photo of the Month for her  photo of a bottle cap in the Tillamook PUD edition of Ruralite. Congratulations Susan and Denise!

Ruralite Services loves to celebrate storytelling excellence. Articles and pictures are nominated by Ruralite‘s team of crackerjack editors based on overall quality, audience connection, lede strength, creativity, organization, flow, timeliness and quotes. Have a favorite story to share? Send it to social@ruralite.org.


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