Written by Holly Payne:
On May 13th, 2015, the Feeding Our Future Network held a session called “The Cooperative Opportunity – Everybody’s Business”. Approximately 65 people attended the session (held at GreenStar’s The Space), representing a broad cross section of Tompkins County’s diverse communities.
With GreenStar Community Projects’ support, network sessions are always free & open to All ~ complete with healthy, tasty food. Food networking sessions stimulate conversation and connections around a focal piece of the local food system. This session on co-ops stretched beyond the food system to address the role of cooperatives in creating a sustainable economy for Tompkins County. Skillfully moderated by Anne Rhodes (long time member of the Network Planning Group), the session began with an overview as follows:
Bobbi Severson, of Cornell’s Cooperative Enterprise Program, gave a short explanation of the different types of cooperatives. Joe Marraffino, of Democracy at Work Institute, followed explaining Worker Coops. And Krys Cail provided an overview of the financial benefits of coops.
Then representatives of local cooperatives briefly described their co-op and what they appreciate about the cooperative model. This group included: Organic Valley’s Andra Benson, Ithaca Handwork’s David Kingsbury, GreenStar Coop’s Brandon Kane, Buffalo Street Books’ Asha Sanaker, Alternatives Fed Credit Union’s Karl Graham, Co-Lab’s Ralph Cutler. Participants then transitioned to small group sessions in which they explored: Interest in starting a cooperative; Cooperative finance and the opportunities for local investment; Worker cooperatives; What we can do as a community to encourage the development of more cooperatives; Local resources that can help jump start cooperatives.
A gorgeous, dinner was served by Leon & Alma Jones, who were first known to GreenStar Community Projects (GSCP) as Community Dinners hosts! (Contact Katie Cox if you are interested in hosting your own GSCP Dinner 279-9894). Leon & Alma catered the meal with professionalism & energy, speaking warmly to everyone and spreading their joy of delicious food & healthy community. By the end of the evening, participants had re-filled their plates until there was nothing left but the memory of good flavors! For more info contact Leon & Alma Soul Food at (607) 342-4195.
Feeding Our Future Network sessions are hosted by GSCP with funding from Park Foundation, Community Foundation of Tompkins County, and small individual donations (which add up – Thank You!) The Network Planning Group connects across diverse communities and organizes each session. We welcome feedback. Contact email@example.com or (607) 229-3540.
Notes to this session on Co-ops are available. For more info on Feeding Our Future network or any aspect of the food system in Tompkins County check out www.hotpotatopress.org where your voice, ideas and events will be connected by Alison Fromme, Editor. Dig in!
Image credit: Photos courtesy of GreenStar Community Projects