Josh Kramer

The pressure we put on ourselves to make, and keep, New Year’s resolutions can be daunting. Rather than resolutions, some instead choose a theme for the year ahead, a sort of guide for action. In 2020, I’m choosing to do the same.

When I think about who we are and what we stand for as cooperatives, the theme “The Power of Us: Cooperative – Community – Connection” seems to fit quite well.

Together, North Dakota’s electric cooperatives have built an incredible system – one that would have been unimaginable to our early cooperative pioneers.

This success didn’t happen by chance or luck. Unity was deliberate. It was a collective effort among generations of cooperative employees, directors and members. Built by listening, learning and leaning on each other. Built to provide electricity with a higher purpose, to create a better quality of life for those we serve and for our communities.

Our core set of principles serve as an everlasting reminder of our responsibility to do what we can to improve our communities and create dialogue around issues that affect us all. I am proud of this organization’s ability to bring people together and elevate important issues.

One such issue in 2020 will be obtaining an accurate population count for the 2020 Census. Our feature story this month highlights the importance of the 2020 Census and explains the real impacts this decennial population count has on North Dakota and local communities. Census-derived statistics, for example, are used to determine states’ seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, how federal and state legislative districts are redrawn and the appropriation of federally funded programs.

One missed North Dakota resident in the population count equates to $19,100 in federal funding lost over a 10-year period. That money is used to support programs like Highway Planning and Construction, the National School Lunch Program and Medicare.

The story also tells of a group of community leaders, who have rolled up their sleeves and mobilized efforts to ensure an accurate count in their community. They are happy to do their part.

We are, too, by utilizing the reach of this magazine to share information that matters to North Dakotans, to our cooperative members. Each month, North Dakota Living makes it into the hands of, on average, 90,000 cooperative members and their families. We work hard to provide both interesting and educational content on issues faced by our industry and local communities and produce 17 sets of local electric cooperative pages, for a little more than the cost of a postage stamp.

As cooperative members, we are connected to each other and to our communities. We share common values that guide us to a higher purpose of improved quality of life. It is who we are, part of the very fabric that makes us unique.

That is the true power of us.

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC. Contact him at