CoFED's Field Organizer, Anna Isaacs, shares stories from the road as she visits students and youth cooperators in California.
Healthy. Affordable. Community Owned.
That's what the community of Greensboro, North Carolina wants and deserves as a community, but don't take my word for it. Hear what the members of Renaissance Community Coop have to say in this great video:
Greensboro is showing us how a community can come together to build a grocery store that serves their needs. Good food, good jobs, and good money is something that brings people together. By working together, the possibility of what can be created grows.
So as you're building a cooperatively-run food business think about how you might be able to connect to the larger campus community, beyond the schools walls. What are the neighborhoods nearby doing? What community organizations have you reached out to? How might your support local efforts that align with your own? How can we support each other in our learning and longing for more thriving and equitable communities?
Brown University worked to serve their campus community and wanted to be conscious of not duplicating efforts in the larger community. They also recognized that cafeteria workers's access to healthy food is just as limited as students, so they designed their "Market Shares" program at Brown University to benefit students, staff, and workers.
Renaissance Community Coop is also showing us that a grocery store goes beyond good food, it's also about good jobs, accessibility, and community ownership.
Thanks for sharing your story Greensboro!
Just about a year ago, CoFED was gearing up to launch our first Regional Organizer Fellowship. The Fellowship was designed, on the advice of previous Regional Organizers (ROs), to prioritize ongoing training, support, and professional development opportunities. We were amazed to receive more than 80 applicants, and chose a group of 5 amazing young leaders who the CoFED network has grown to love and appreciate! They have worked to train, connect, and “inspiregize” college students to start and improve student-run food cooperatives across North America. Now, as the year-long experience is coming to a close, we’d like to update the network about where CoFED is headed from this first class of Fellows, and say THANK YOU to the ROs and all that they have accomplished:
Early this spring, just after break and just before the crunch of finals, over 50 young cooperators converged at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina for what proved to be an amazing weekend. Folks from Indiana to Maryland to North Carolina learned together, from each other, became more excited about their co-ops, and most importantly built a sense of community and this movement together. I have to say, I didn’t know what this year as the Mid-Atlantic & Southeast Regional Organizer was going to be like, but sharing that space with so many amazing people working on equally inspiring projects, was a loud and clear confirmation of the importance of this work.
(Rose City, the Greenleaf, UNCG, Firestorm, and Maryland Food Collective members; after other teams had left on Sunday)
After the Winter months of planning by students of cooperation, the Northeast Student Cooperative Convergence in Amherst, MA happened & was beautiful!
CoFED's Regional Organizers are spread out across the country doing amazing work to support and connect student-run food coops in and across regions. A few times a year, they get to come together for the joyous occasion of face-to-face contact -- no more Skype fuzz or Google Hangout hats keeping them a part! The mid-year retreat provides them with further team-building and training that builds upon the work that they have accomplished thus far in the Fellowship, and of course, gets them stoked to continue their organizing efforts in the second half of the school year. Here are some of the highlights...
Our community continues to grow, as people share their passions and support something they love!
Every year we hire a handful of interns who are looking to learn more about food and the cooperative world. We create an opportunity for them to explore these interests, make connections, and gain skills. This new year Lauryl will be working with Brian Clement to organize the Northeast Spring Student Cooperative Convergence!
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join more than seven thousand youth activists from around the country in Pittsburgh for an inspiring and empowering three days, filled with peer-led workshops, panels, breakouts, and keynotes, culminating in a protest march through the streets and an occupation of a local official’s office that had approved fracking in county parks.
[Activists marching across the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh. Photo Credit: Julian Ehrlich]
We came together to learn more about the different problems caused by the fossil fuel economy in communities all around our country, hearing stories from those being directly impacted first hand. We came together to share the work that we, the people in those communities and their allies, are doing to fight back. We came together to envision what an equitable, just, and thriving future could look like and plan how we are going to make it happen. We came together to organize, strategize, commiserate, and celebrate. We came together for Power Shift 2013.
-October 10, 2013-
I’m starting off the road trip to meet up with Yahya in the land of some of the greenest trees I've ever seen and I’m always excited to get to visit a cooperative I have had the honor to know & love for going on a year now: Down To Earth Food Coop (DTE).
But seriously, they're the most lovable. It's not hard.
Yahya and I go on an adventure with Paul and Lauren to the Goodwill where Paul is getting supplies for constructing a water filter gift, Lauren finds an awesome collection of jars for keeping all the things in, and we find a sturdy table cloth for banner making purposes. On this visit, I also catch a cold, an auspicious beginning for any journey, but Yahya makes some magic garlic ginger lemon honey cayenne tea and I fight it by napping on the futon. The no-bake cookies Libby offers for breakfast-DTE’s catering Newark Bike Project’s opening in their new location-also help. Member dinner features wild foraged foods: chicken of the woods mushrooms, Chinese chestnut, nettles: if I were to choose a place to get sick and try to get well, this would definitely be it. There is some good kitchen table conversation with Elana, Libby and Lauren about some great questions around how to direct the energies of the group, to divide labor equitably, to continue to empower people, size & structure, food politics, & baking times. These are all great problems to have and DTE has opened up space to negotiate and debate these in a way that wasn't offered by corporate foodservice at U Del.