Some of you may already know about efforts to start a food co-op in our neighborhood. If not, take a moment to visit www.northeastco-op.org. This project is the result of frustration from not being able to recruit a natural grocer to the northeast metro area and optimism that our communities will embrace and support an alternative that can supply locally-sourced, fresh, and organic products. We hope this optimism will persist as we transition into the membership drive for the co-op.
I am becoming a member of the food co-op because I believe that my community wants and needs a better source for food products. I am joining because I believe in the cooperative principles of voluntary and open membership, democratic control, economic participation, autonomy and independence, education, cooperation, and concern for community. I am purchasing my member share because I believe in the co-op’s vision to develop an inclusive and vibrant community hub that will enrich our neighborhoods through proactive community engagement and cooperative ownership.
I am joining the co-op because I believe in the Stapleton Green Book’s vision to establish connections between the Stapleton development and the established neighboring communities. This goes beyond street connections. I dream of co-opers traveling future trails, walking or biking across the unfenced Aurora/Stapleton border to connect with neighbors from different walks of life over the shared concern for food access, healthy living, social and environmental responsibility, democracy, and community investment. I want to invest in building and reinforcing connections between all of our neighbors.
This is not pie in the sky. Our core team has spent countless hours over the past two years developing a business plan, making connections throughout the community, building interest in our project, and planning this membership drive. We have assembled a talented board of directors and steering committee. We have 1,200 followers on Facebook and a list of over 300 volunteers. We’ve hired a project manager and lawyer, and we’re incorporated as a Colorado cooperative. We are also not alone. Across the country, Americans are seeking more ways to own and control their food sources. There are roughly 350 cooperative grocery stores in the United States, with at least another 200 under development. We’ve learned the best practices for building a successful co-op from peer food co-ops across the country. Now we are ready to put those practices into action.
Why should you become a member now? Without the support of the community, this project will never come to fruition. We need $2 million to open our doors, roughly $800,000 of which needs to come directly from our community. An individual member-owner share costs $200. As an owner, you get to vote for your board of directors, you get to shape what your grocery store looks like, and you will get to reap the rewards of owning an equity share as our fledgling co-op grows into an established and profitable grocery store. Most importantly, you can say that you made this happen for your community! The time to act is now! We can be complacent with the status quo or we can work together and seize this opportunity to build the grocery store that our community wants. I choose the latter option.
Thomas Spahr, Chair, Northeast Community Co-op Market Board of Directors email@example.com