Dad, Bill Chamberlain, managed agricultural supply co-operatives in Ontario. Dad was transferred to various communities in the province to help turn around ailing co-ops, working long hours against small profit margins. Dad and Mom, Fran, were a team in this, just as they have been a team throughout their marriage, and were known and respected across the province for their integrity and hard work, and for their involvement in their communities. But Mom and Dad must have known success couldn’t happen without the support of the local community, and that success necessarily began with integrating into the new community. And that it couldn’t happen without some sacrifice, that the co-ops’s success and all that it would mean for that community’s outcome was otherwise out of reach without it. And this is how we came to live in Guelph — in 1977.
Even at a young age I knew the farmers were the owners of the co-op Dad was managing at the time. It must have been important to Dad that we understood this, because we did. Perhaps better than most adults.
But more, that the members were the owners and the boss was golden to us.
It was golden to Dad in how he told us of the relationship of the member to the co-op and the vote each of them equally had in the decisions that were before them. Attached to this for us growing up was a high standard of service and accountability to the members and their Board of Directors. It was highly formative for me. A favorite childhood memory for me in being with Dad during what likely was an AGM.
It seems that we are getting away from the notion of citizen, and the kind of elevated regard for the notion of membership that was the source of such purpose and pride as we had about Mom and Dad and the family because of their work and service.
We need to peel back some of that onion we now have in the workings of our city, layers of power that in my opinion are sidelining our elected officals. It’s troublesome. Also, evaluating outcomes from actions are core to my thinking, and so watch for me to comment on that kind of stuff as well.