Each October, cooperatives across the nation celebrate their accomplishments and contributions to their communities. Here in Maine, Co-op Month is sponsored by Cooperative Maine; this year’s theme is Cooperatives Build a Better Maine.

As part of the observance, there will be a half dozen free Maine screenings of “Food for Change,” a feature-length documentary about food co-ops, local economies and food security. The film focuses on the role food co-ops play in communities and provides an historical backdrop to the current cooperative movement.

The remaining screening schedule is as follows: Friday, Oct. 14, at 6:45 p.m. at Blue Hill Public Library, sponsored by Blue Hill Co-op; Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 6:30 p.m. at Johnson Hall, Gardiner, sponsored by Gardiner Food Co-op & Café; Thursday, Oct. 20, at 10 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 22, at 11 a.m. on Maine Public television; Sunday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m. at Belfast’s Colonial Theatre, Belfast, sponsored by Belfast Co-op, Crown of Maine Organic Co-op, and Cooperative Development Institute. Admission is free.

Cooperative Maine is a network of co-op advocates who offer support for existing co-ops and encourage the creation of new co-ops. There are several types of co-ops: consumer, such as food co-ops and credit unions; producer, such as farmer, fishing and craft co-ops; worker-owned, such as the Island Employee Co-op & Local Sprouts Café; housing, such as Maine’s resident-owned communities and Raise-Op Housing Co-op; and utilities, such as Eastern Maine and Fox Islands electric co-ops. All credit unions in Maine are members of the Maine Credit Union League, with more than 150 banking locations across the state.

The Cooperative Development Institute has released a report titled "Cooperatives Build a Better Maine," highlighting the uniquely positive role of cooperative and employee-owned businesses in expanding economic opportunity and strengthening communities in Maine. The report is available at maine.coop.

On Saturday, Oct. 22, Raise-Op Housing Co-op, New Roots Cooperative Farm and the Somali Bantu Community Association of Lewiston-Auburn will host a free community gathering, Celebrating Cooperatives in Lewiston-Auburn, at 145 Pierce St. in Lewiston. At 3 p.m., there will be a press conference with a ribbon cutting for the new Raise-Op cooperative housing and announcing the report, followed by food and networking. At 4 p.m., there will be free community workshops discussing how to grow cooperatives in housing, food and employee ownership.

The 2016 Credit Union Week takes place Oct. 16 through 22; and Credit Union Day is Oct. 20 (to learn what Maine credit unions have planned, visit mainecul.org). To find co-ops in Maine, visit the Maine cooperative directory at maine.find.coop.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.