GOFFSTOWN, N.H. — ROC USA has just wrapped up a whirlwind three days of celebration, work and education that featured ROC leaders from five states, cooperative experts from across the country, and ROC USA staff, affiliates and ROC Association leaders coming together to take stock of the progress made so far and make plans for more successes yet to come.
On Sunday, two ROC Association Directors joined ROC USA staff visiting ROCs in three states. At Wayside Village in Shirley, Mass., they met with ROC leaders and residents and Community Leadership Institute grads from across the Bay State.
The next stop was Portsmouth, N.H., where they joined the celebration of the state’s newest ROC — Woodbury Cooperative, whose residents purchased their community just a few days before.
The group headed north again, this time stopping in Freeport, Maine. Here, leaders from five Maine ROCs, RONA (Resident-Owned Neighborhoods Association) of Maine and Cooperative Development Institute staffers learned more about the benefits of engaging with a national network of ROCs as well as some of the benefits offered at www.myROCUSA.org.
“What a fun day — 300 miles and we were aching for one more ROC to visit,” said ROC USA President Paul Bradley. “There’s not much that gets me more energized than visiting with ROC leaders, especially in their home communities.”
ROC Association Directors Liz Wood (Duvall Riverside Village, Duvall, Wash.) and Natividad Seefeld (Park Plaza Cooperative, Fridley, Minn.) told residents about the need to spread the word about ROCs and to work toward making sure anyone in a manufactured home community has the chance to purchase the community when it comes up for sale.
“We’re truly blessed to have been given that chance to become community owners, and I can’t help but do what I can to grow this trend more and more,” Seefeld said.
“I agree,” Wood said. “Buying and managing a community like Duvall is hard work, but at the end of the day it’s so comforting knowing I will never be forced to leave my home because the land has been sold. That marriage of house and land is so, so important.”
On Monday, ROC USA hosted a meeting of its Board of Directors, where ROC USA staff had the opportunity to share with the Board their roles and ongoing efforts to support the mission and strategic plan of ROC USA.
“This was terrific because it marks the first time ROC USA was able to host our Board in our own office space,” said Bradley, noting that the Board typically meets in Washington, D.C. “Our growing staff forced us to move almost a year ago, and our new space is really working for the whole staff and this gave us the chance to show off our new home a little bit.”
On Tuesday, the staff and Board visited Medvil Cooperative in Goffstown for a series of panel discussions and working groups with Medvil Board Members, residents, and several invited guests from the cooperative, housing, lending and other sectors.
Medvil Board President Barbara Giordani welcomed a full house of visitors and led a panel discussion that focused on ROC finances, social life and more.
Howard Brodsky, co-CEO of CCA Global Partners, shared details of the Cooperatives for a Better World initiative, of which ROC USA is an early participant. The effort is geared toward educating audiences across the globe about cooperatives in numerous sectors, how they can benefit workers, shoppers, and more.
“One in seven people worldwide is a Member of a cooperative,” Brodsky said, noting that co-ops are hugely popular among Millennials for their ability to address the wealth gap without politicizing the effort. “If Apple were a cooperative, for example, each of its 97,000 workers would have received a dividend check last year for more than $400,000.”
Brodsky introduced the #cooperative initiative, designed to use social media to bring attention to the good work of cooperatives in many sectors. He also introduced the “We Are ROC Association” video included here as an example of how Cooperatives for a Better World is providing resources for co-ops to customize and deploy to strengthen the message, their brand, and awareness.
See more photos here.