We’re all making a difference with the power of our numbers and our voices

Picture of marjory gilsrud, deb winiewicz & JOHN EGAN <br> DIRECTORS, ROC ASSOCIATION
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marjory gilsrud, deb winiewicz & JOHN EGAN

We’re five months into 2023, but we’re still riding the wave of the biggest news of 2022: the approval of the PRICE Initiative (Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement), or what you might know as the PRICE Fund. And we’ll be riding this wave for many more months to come, because there is still so much work to be done.

ROC Association’s Policy and Advocacy Committee worked hard for two years to help make this program happen with help from ROC USA® staff, TA providers and other community Members. The committee enlisted the help of ROCs around the country with a letter-writing campaign to senators and congresspeople. ROCs in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and Rhode Island even welcomed lawmakers and their staff into their homes and to tour their neighborhoods, discussing infrastructure needs and why passing PRICE was so important.

Those visits were a wake-up call for many of the legislators, and they were a huge win for us as community Members. The “trailer trash” mindset some of them might have come in with was dissolved when they spoke to real, everyday people living in their communities – in their homes – just like anyone else. There is a whole wide range of people who make up our communities: families, retired couples, doctors, teachers, children, gardeners … the list goes on. But all those faces and all those voices replaced the stigma and gave us a fighting chance.

The three of us took a trip to Capitol Hill to state our case. Before that trip, the PRICE Initiative seemed so far off in the distance it was like it wasn’t even real. But Capitol Hill is where everything seemed to fall into place, and it became a reality. It was intimidating – this was a large place filled with important people. There was a strong feeling of “I’m just little old me” and it was almost overwhelming. Until we realized, hey, they’re working for us! We are the people who vote for them, and we were there representing thousands of other voters. We were reminded that they need us too, and that was a powerful moment.

And we want to remind everyone that you also have that power. You’re not “just” a resident – you are important and you can make changes, whether you’re on your community’s Board or not. We are collective parts of an entire puzzle and when we work together, we complete the picture.

Telling our stories was one of the most impactful ways to reach our lawmakers, and luckily most if not all of us have a story to tell. It could be a personal struggle, or it could be infrastructure failures your whole community is facing. Whatever it is, there is power in telling it. Don’t be afraid to share your story! Don’t be ashamed of where you live. Instead, be proud of your community and fight for the changes you want to see so that pride can grow even more.

The PRICE Initiative itself just became another story that we get to tell. It’s a story of success and perseverance. It may not always be a success story; there will be times when things don’t go the way we’d hoped, but that’s OK, because there are plenty of opportunities to succeed. This is a big step for ROCs, and it’s only a taste of what we can accomplish when we work together.

What we’ve done here is just the beginning, and we’re excited to start a Tour Your Community campaign as the next step. More information to come! If you want to hear more about the experience first-hand, check out the newest Ownership Matters podcast episode featuring Carol Hodgkins and Stephen Hamlin, who hosted tours in their own communities.

Remember: your co-op is a Member of ROC Association, so always feel free to reach out to us for support at rocassociation@rocusa.org.