What’s in a logo?

As we search for a symbol to uniquely indentify MadWorC, we have come across some interesting information about cooperative logos.

You may have noticed that many co-op organizations use an image of twin pine trees somewhere inside their logo. The logos that we see below all have incorporated pines, usually two pines are shown. Many co-ops also use the term “Twin Pines” in their name.

While tip-toeing through the Internet doing research, we stumbled upon the source of the use of the “Twin Pines” as a cooperative symbol. In an excerpt from a 1921 edition of the magazine “Cooperation,” we found the origination and the explanation of this symbol. This magazine was written by the CLA, the “Cooperative League of America,” and interestingly enough, the article was published as their organization was searching for an identity of their own — just as we are today. This organization eventually became what we know today as the NCBA, and you can see in the logo above that they still incorporate the twin pines in their current logo.

This is a small excerpt from the 1921 article in the CLA’s search for a Cooperative Symbol:

“Many of the symbols were very meritorious. Some represented a high degree of artistic talent. Many presented symbolism which displayed a large grasp of the meaning of Co-operation. But the committee was not able to agree upon any one. The symbols that were artistic were too complicated and difficult of reproduction. Those that were simple and symbolic lacked symmetry and artistic quality. No word that was submitted was found acceptable.

“After repeating the announcement in this magazine three times during the past two years, and still not receiving a symbol and word that could be adopted, the Executive Board set to work to create the symbol and word. After several weeks of trial with many designs, the [twin pines in a circle] seal was adopted.

“The pine tree is the ancient symbol of endurance, fecundity, and immortality. Those are the qualities that we see in Co-operation. In the old Egyptian, Persian and Indian mythology, the pine tree and its symbol, the pine cone are found typifying life and the perpetuation of life. The hardy pine symbolizes the enduring quality of Co-operation. More than one pine is used to represent the mutual co-operation necessary. The trunks of the pine trees are continued into the roots which form a circle. The circle is another ancient symbol of eternal life. It typifies that which has no end. The circle in this picture represents also the world, the all-embracing cosmos, of which Co-operation is a part and which depends for its existence upon Co-operation. The colors of the two pines and the circle are dark green; this is the color of chlorophyll which is the life principle in nature. The background within the circle is golden yellow, typifying the sun, the giver of light and life.”

Now that we have an understanding of where the twin pine logo originated, it is interesting to look at the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives logo to get the perspective from a worker cooperative. This logo was conceptualized in 2004 by Tim Huet and designed by Tim Simmons. The twin pines can easily be seen in the background with a flying V flock of geese in the foreground. The addition of FASTER FURTHER TOGETHER really makes this a great logo for an organization of worker cooperatives.

A complete explanation of this logo can be found at www.usworker.coop/logo

As our search for the perfect MadWorC logo continues, please feel free to submit your ideas to steve@interpreters.coop.

By Ole Olson
Isthmus Engineering and Manufacturing

United Nations Declares 2012 International Year of Cooperatives

A cooperative is an autonomous voluntary association of people who unite to meet common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations, through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.  In general, they contribute to socio-economic development.

As self-help organizations that meet the needs of their members, cooperatives assist in generating employment and incomes throughout local communities.  Cooperatives provide opportunities for social inclusion.  In the informal economy, workers have formed shared service cooperatives and associations to assist in their self-employment.  In rural areas, savings and credit cooperatives provide access to banking services that are lacking in many communities and finance the formation of small and micro businesses, promotes inclusive finance.

The cooperative sector worldwide has about 800 million members in over 100 countries and is estimated to account for more than 100 million jobs around the world.  The strength and reach of cooperatives are illustrated in the following examples:

  • under the umbrella of the World Council of Credit Unions, 49,000 credit unions serve 177 million members in 96 countries, and 4,200 banks under the European Association of Cooperative Banks serve 149 million clients;
  • agricultural cooperatives account for 80 to 99 per cent of milk production in Norway, New Zealand and the United States; 71 per cent of fishery production in the Republic of Korea; and 40 per cent of agriculture in Brazil;
  • electric cooperatives play a key role in rural areas.  In Bangladesh, rural electric cooperatives serve 28 million people. In the United States, 900 rural electric cooperatives serve 37 million people and own almost half of the electric distribution lines in the country.

International Years are declared by the United Nations to draw attention to major issues and encourage action.  To commemorate the Year, regional conferences will raise awareness of cooperatives and seek ways to leverage their contribution to socio-economic development and foster regulatory frameworks.  A research agenda will be proposed and Member States are to form national committees that will serve as focal points for the Year’s activities.

For more information, contact the Department of Economic and Social Affairs focal point on cooperatives, Felice Llamas, llamas@un.org, +1 212 963 2924.

Original here.