For just over 13 months a dedicated group of dreamers, activists, planners, and foodies has been working to bring a cooperatively owned grocery store to South Philadelphia. During that time, they encountered people who are excited, curious, skeptical, wary and indifferent to the idea. (Thankfully, no one has been particularly hostile although at a few of those civic meetings, it seemed like some folks might be leaning that way.) This hearty band neighbors has pushed through, visiting over a dozen different civic associations, talking to local businesses, meeting two to three times per month (sometimes more), and attending at least 40 different community events, all in an attempt to spread the word.
All the while, there was always the slightest bit of doubt. Even after the community forum on the first day of spring when over a hundred people showed up, many of whom said they were ready to join up right then and there, the co-op always wondered whether, when the time came, people would dig deep, part with their hard-earned cash and take the leap of faith that any start-up requires. Without a storefront and knowing that the timeline doesn’t target a store opening until well into 2013, would people share the patience and long-term vision that has kept the volunteers of the Steering, Outreach and Legal/Finance committees grinding away for the last 13 months? Would a mailing list of close to a thousand people and a Facebook fan base of almost 900 (only 3 away!) translate to the member-owner base required to make this happen.
The answer, less than a week into this critical member-owner time, is yes. As of this writing, the South Philadelphia Food Co-op has 34 members in good standing. That’s 34 households who filled out their applications and made a payment of at least $25 (on their way to a full equity share of $200). That’s 34 households who are now eligible to run for a position on the inaugural Board of Directors and are able to vote in the election on June 29 (stay tuned!). Best of all, that’s 34 steps closer to that time when we’ll all be standing around watching someone with a giant set of novelty scissors cut through a ribbon draped over the front doors of the South Philly Food Co-op.
If you are waiting for everyone else to make the move so you can just show up at the ribbon cutting and start shopping for that high quality, reasonably priced, organic and/or local food and other sustainably made products, we might never get there. There are plenty of ways you can help – join one of the committees, write for this blog, volunteer to staff a table at an event – but the most important thing you can do is become a member. Now.
Oh, and that group of folks mentioned at the top of this post? You can add one more word to describe them… friends. Join up. Be a part of it.
Nominations for the inaugural Board of Directors are being accepted right now. If you have made the move to become a member you can nominate yourself for the Board. Simply answer the following questions:
1.Tell us about yourself, your work, beliefs and values. Include your experiences and accomplishments with any of the SPFC organizing committees if applicable.
2. Why do you value Cooperatives?
3. What is your definition of a Cooperative?
4. What is your vision of growth for a South Philly Food Cooperative?
Please keep it to a total of 300 words for all four answers and submit your answers to David Woo woo3d (at) earthlink (dot) net by the end of the day on June 15.
These questions and your answers will be distributed by email to all members and a copy will be located at the South Philly Food Coop website for at least two weeks before the membership meeting and general election June 29.