Photo of Ted Case

Now we know how the cicadas feel. No, we have not been buried underground for 17 years in subterranean lairs like the Brood X cicadas—the buzzing, red-eyed insect that makes its home in the eastern United States. But for at least 15 months— which seems more like an eternity—many of us have felt that sense of isolation.

Because of preexisting conditions, the pandemic kept my family from venturing very far from home. I have seen few Oregon electric co-op leaders in person, relying instead on myriad Zoom calls to stay connected.

One of the most ironic takeaways from a horrible worldwide pandemic is that our statewide association is as cohesive as it has ever been. We, like many others, discovered early in the crisis we were much stronger together, even if virtually. When events such as deadly wildfires and historic ice storms piled on top of a pandemic, the amazing leaders in the cooperative network became even more indispensable.

As we turn the corner on the pandemic, I hope we can maintain this sense of cohesion. Even if COVID-19 is subsiding, the challenges in the electric utility industry are not.

It feels like it’s time to come above ground, even if it appears I am only poking my head around. There was a trip to a bookstore and a Mother’s Day meal at an actual restaurant—the first time we experienced a family meal out since before the pandemic.

There are national electric co-op meetings to attend and the in-person Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association annual meeting this October. There is a sense of excitement and anticipation, even if I do not know all the protocols. Do we fist bump or shake hands? And does anyone remember how to make small talk? It is slightly disorienting, just like, I imagine, the cicadas that hatched in 2004 and have been slowly maturing and beginning to come above ground.

I lived in the Washington, D.C., area 17 years ago when they last invaded, emitting what I imagine as the sound of an alien spaceship hovering over town. I recall thinking they lived a bizarre existence, burrowed away for years, only to emerge with no fear or hesitation, taking full advantage of the small amount of time they had been granted. Turns out it is not bizarre at all, but rather an unlikely blueprint for the rest of us just now emerging into the sunlight.

Ted Case
Executive Director