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Ivano Barberini. ¡Presenté!

Most US Cooperators have no idea who Ivano Barberini was. I met him only briefly last fall in Trento during the ICA Research Committee Conference. It hardly does justice to say that he was the current president of the International Cooperative Alliance, the largest Non-Governmental Organization in the world representing over 800 million members of cooperatives world-wide.

In a book that he was writing at the time of his death, he makes this salient point: "The commitment, the spirit of sacrifice and the lack of personal interest have been rewarded with precious treasures - self-esteem, freedom to act, the feeling of being socially useful ... And it is all this, that gives a meaning to life, makes it all worth living."

I feel a bit ashamed that I know so little about President Barberini. He served as ICA president since 2001 and worked his way into the movement through Legacoop in Italy. It is perhaps a greater statement that the passing of such a significant leader on the world stage passes without a mention in the US media. Even the NY Times seemed to have missed this story.

US Cooperatives could do well to connect themselves to the international movement. Too often, we seem oblivious of what is happening outside of our borders. The work being done in the world by cooperatives should make us proud and inspire us as to how we can solve our problems at home.

I only met President Barberini in time to note his passing and in that take the lesson that being part of a "movement" requires more than a bumper sticker or cloth bag. We should all strive to be promote and cheer for cooperatives as Ivano Barberini spent his life doing.

Ivano Barberini.

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