As I See It: FAN and the Seven Cooperative Principles
by Krista Zeghers
FAN is guided by cooperative principles which values honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. As members of FAN, you and I are part of a network of professional fibre artists and can connect with other fibre organizations across the world. You can take pride in the principles FAN and its members put into practice.
As a new member to FAN in 2014 and in the fledgling position of Volunteer Coordinator, I gathered information on FAN’s ‘raisons d’être’. What were FAN’s original beliefs and visions for the future? As I gathered information I saw how connected FAN is to cooperative ways. In the following seven paragraphs I have merged my ideas of FAN within the Seven Cooperative Principles derived by cooperatives worldwide.
1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership
FAN is a cooperative, open to all fibre artists, willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination. Active members generally volunteer within FAN, enter art works into FAN exhibitions, and attend the yearly retreat. Non-active members often support FAN through their membership dollars, keep in touch through the monthly newsletter and often spread news about FAN. It is great to have both active and non-active members of FAN. Within our membership we are strong!
2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control
As a member of FAN you are encouraged to actively participate in setting FAN policies and making decisions. Members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote). You are encouraged to attend the annual retreat where the AGM is held. One meeting per year; that’s a bargain!
3rd Principle: Member Participation
FAN members contribute individually to the democratic control the organization. All activities are approved by the membership. Various volunteer positions are available and it is encouraged that each member volunteers. However, we recognize that life can get in the way and good intentions fall by the wayside. Remember, even verbally promoting FAN to another fibre artist or asking local galleries to show FAN exhibits is a big help. Every small act supports FAN and its principles!
4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence
FAN is an autonomous, self-help organization controlled by its members. FAN recognizes other fibre art organizations and works cooperatively with them. Through cooperative networking we are stronger!
5th Principle: Education and Information
FAN provides information for their members. The monthly newsletter is a plethora of information for any fibre artist. FAN hosts public education, exhibitions, artist talks, and sponsors a design award at National Juried Show. The top of the list is the networking opportunities provided at the yearly retreat. This event is vital to many fibre artists’ development. We learn so much through each other. Come out to the retreat; it is amazing!
6th Principle: Cooperation among Cooperatives
FAN serves its members most effectively and strengthens networking by working together through local, national, regional and international groups. Some FAN members have created local fibre art groups that can meet on a more regular basis. (i.e.: In Manitoba a group of fibre artists, many of whom are members of FAN, meet once a month to share ideas.) When you join FAN you meet other fibre artists and learn about other arts organizations!
7th Principle: Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, FAN works for the sustainable development of its artists. The FAN Google group and newsletter allows FAN members to stay in touch through out the year, and share accolades, calls for entry and exhibits information, concerns, and friendships. What a great way to meet people with similar interests!
As I see it, FAN is based on solid cooperative principles. As with any cooperative there can be bumps on the road, but with a solid foundation the bumps can be fixed. I am excited about belonging to FAN. I see it as a place where artistic minds can collaborate. Through FAN you can, as Claudia Black suggests: “Surround yourself with people who respect and treat you well.” What better way to inspire your inner creative spirit? See you at the retreat!!