Ian MacPherson ¡Presenté!

This morning I, and the rest of the international cooperative community, received news that Ian MacPherson had passed on. The Canadian Association for the Studies in Cooperation (CASC) issued an appreciation of his life (see below).

I had the opportunity to meet Ian in 2007 at a combined conference of CASC, the Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE) and the ICA Research Committee in 2007. It was his last conference as chair of the ICA Research Committee. I also met and talked with him at the ICA events in Italy and Oxford. The appreciation by CASC covers his incredible work within the cooperative movement. I would add that his work as a board member of the ICA and specifically his work towards the drafting and approval of the Statement on the Cooperative Identity cannot be over appreciated. He managed to convince an international organization such as the ICA, the largest NGO in the world, to fundamentally change its core definition from the “Rochdale Principles” to the all-encompassing Statement on the Cooperative Identity.

I remember speaking to him about that effort. He told me that the discussion over the meaning of honesty (a cooperative ethical value) within the cooperative context spanned over eight hours. His background paper on the statement helps to suggest all of the nuance of the final document. Please hit the link and read through it–it should be required reading for anyone that wants to understand the cooperative movement beyond the Statement.

One of the qualities that I noticed in Ian right away was his sense of humor. He was a genuinely funny person who enjoyed a laugh. His humor was never cynical, but he also never seemed to allow himself or others to take “the cooperative movement” too seriously. He always had a gleam in his eye that suggested that however serious the topic on hand may seem, there was a humorous aspect to it. He would have been at home in the Democracy at Work Network which puts a priority on having fun.

Another quality that I saw and heard about over the years was his willingness to welcome new people into the group. Nobody needed to prove themselves to Ian that they belonged. He championed new scholars such as myself and others. I didn’t know him well, but he always seemed to enjoy learning from new voices. He made a point of reaching out to them and welcoming them into the group especially in the social settings where networks are created.

It has been a few years since I have seen Ian mainly because I haven’t been able to attend conferences or have the time at conferences that I would like to have for the socializing. He is a role model for all of us doing this work. Keep the humor, embrace the new folks, and educate.

Ian MacPherson. ¡Presenté!


UPDATE: A website in his honor has been established at  http://www.ianmacphersonmemorial.blogspot.ca/.

About John McNamara

John spent 26 years with Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and currently helps develop co-ops in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and Masters in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary's University.
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