This year Hanover Food Co-op in Hanover, New Hampshire celebrated its 75th anniversary. As part of their annual meeting activities in April, they launched a co-op expo, brought in co-op historian and author David Thompson to speak at the annual meeting, and are currently creating a sequel to their Hand in Hand DVD (focused on their co-op’s history) by interviewing various co-op stakeholders. The Baker Library at Dartmouth College is also now the co-op’s official archivist, and held an exhibit of co-op artifacts and documents at the library in commemoration of the co-op’s 75th year.
David Thompson’s speech will also be shown on a local cable channel, and the co-op is producingDVDs of his speech to be available soon on the co-op’s website and in the CBLD Library. In 2008, the co-op recorded The Small-Mart Revolution author Michael Shuman’s annual meeting presentation on local economies, which can be viewed in the CBLD Library. Recording speakers and keeping track of the co-op’s history (before the Baker Library took over) has been a lot of hard work for staff, but president of Hanover Co-op, Kay Litten, said it is important for board and management to be able to continue to speak to members about the annual meeting long after it is over.
Last year’s annual meeting and expo focused on local producers and this year it focused on cooperatives. Keynote speaker Thompson shared the story of Toyohiko Kagawa, Japanese cooperator and author of Brotherhood Economics, who traveled in the U.S. in the 1930s and ’40s and helped spawn the depression-era Old Wave co-ops. Thompson’s address and a radio interview with Hanover director Don Kries speaking about Kagawa and Brotherhood Economics are available in the CBLD Library. From their co-op of 30,000 members, attendance has been up to 500 participants. “Our junior high gym has been filled with people and food,” Litten said. The board also took the opportunity to discuss the cooperative principles with members at tables specifically set up to talk with members about it. “The thing I want to say about all these activities is that we want to continually bring people back to the roots of cooperation.”