I’d like to say that it took a day to process what we all experienced last night before I could settle in to blog about it but the truth is, much like we explained to one questioner who wondered if the volunteers on the committees would be running the store, we have full-time jobs so the blogging has to come late at night. In case you missed our Spring Community Forum last night, earlier today Mary Beth posted the slide show we presented which answers a lot of questions on its own.
By our count over 100 people attended last night’s forum in Neumann-Goretti’s auditorium (which seems like it could rival Wembley Stadium for seating capacity) and about 40 of them filled out volunteer surveys and expressed interest in helping out. Our Outreach Committee chair Patty emailed us earlier today that “we have a great response and a variety of talents to pool from.”
One word for that – awesome.
Because as far as we’ve come in a little under a year since the first organizing meeting, we still have a long way to go. In that year we’ve had people join the effort, do their part, and then rotate out. That’s to be expected of any all-volunteer effort so we’re glad to know that fresh waves of troops are coming in to keep pushing the co-op forward. For all of us who have been putting in the hours, it comes as a relief to know our efforts will not be in vain and that community is so supportive.
Best of all, there was a great contingent of our neighbors from west of Broad Street in attendance which will definitely help fill in the empty spaces on our survey map and get the word out to even more people. Marsha, who gathered the attendees from Newbold, Grad Hospital, and Point Breeze, reported that at least 10 folks signed up for a West of Broad Committee meeting.
We also heard from people who loved how the presentation had a community feeling to it. The representation we have on our committees and the diverse group of neighbors in the audience really spoke to the true community involvement of this project. It’s no longer just the dream of 3 or 4 people who want a place to buy organic nuts and seeds in bulk (not that it ever was just that). It’s now a movement that means different things to different people, all of whom have the ultimate goal of opening a member-owned food co-op somewhere south of South Street between the rivers.
For some, like Aditi Oakely (Legal/Finance Committee) who spoke during the presentation last night, the Co-op has been about creating a place for true, meaningful interaction with neighbors. For me, it has been about being on the front lines of creating a more sustainable society by taking control of how our food is produced and where it comes from. Others like the local ownership aspect or the chance to buy quality food at competitive prices. For as many people as were in attendance last night, there are probably that many different reasons.
The feedback we received was invaluable. We were made aware of the buying power and talent pool represented by the parents (especially mothers) of young children who are less able to make it to evening committee meetings but can be counted on and mobilized if we organize more kid-friendly events. Stay tuned for those efforts to begin.
We got a number of questions about the logistics of membership and the payments that will help moving forward as we begin the marketing push for our membership campaign. And, most importantly, according to Mary Beth Hertz (Steering Committee), a number of people were ready to write their checks for their membership fees right on the spot. Soon, folks. For your protection and ours, before we accept ownership shares we have to officially incorporate which we hope to do in the next 4-6 weeks.
Weeks of preparation and hard work paid off in a really well-received event. But… as much of a relief as it was to be done with that… in the end we’ll look back and consider that to have been the easy part. The real work continues…