From the Bethlehem Food Co-op blog:
This morning, four co-operators piled into a car and headed down to the north-west edge of Philadelphia, where we were welcomed with open arms by the folks at Weavers Way Co-Op. Weavers Way is a seasoned co-op, established in the 1970s, that has expanded into the sort of co-op utopia we can dream about. They operate two full-service grocery stores, an educational center, four farms, a pet supply store and more!
I understand there will always be doubters, but places like Weavers Way show that when you understand the generative engine that fresh, good food can be, amazing things are possible. Keep it up, co-operators!
obviously the number of people who live nearby is going to be a huge factor in whether or not a corner grocery store can survive. If you want more food businesses, and all kinds of businesses, it’s all about upzoning upzoning upzoning.
Jon, thanks for the link.
The Bethlehem Food Co-op also shares this update:
February’s co-op meeting was hugely productive and well attended, despite a new time and venue. The group was delighted to welcome several new faces. The next general co-op meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, March 22 at 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley. Committee leaders will contact committee members to arrange meetings prior to that date. (continue reading)
Many, many thanks to Cathy Frankenberg and Jon Geeting for leading our discussion about food deserts and co-ops last week. We had a great turnout and the time together was enlightening and generative. I encourage you to follow Cathy’s work on the Bethlehem Food Co-op here and Jon’s political commentary and views on the changing urban landscape of Allentown here. I’m looking forward to inviting both of these fine panelists and community advocates back to Beerituality on a regular basis.
One thing that really struck me from an economic/political standpoint of the discussion was the issue of market failure in Bethlehem. If you’re of a mind to be skeptical of co-op groceries because you think the market is efficient, you have to ask yourselves why the invisible hand hasn’t planted very many grocery stores in these Bethlehem neighborhoods. Further, if market-driven models have tried and failed to thrive in these settings, you may wonder why a co-op should be any different. To me, activism, intentionality, and what I’ll call generative consensus add real value to an enterprise like this. Members of a co-op are committed to making it work for reasons other than profit. We’re talking about a system conceived, operated, maintained, and patronized by a group of dedicated people who have a very different understanding of the role food has in creating healthy communities. They have broader understandings about issues of access. The only shareholders they answer to are each other and the community members who will have better access to better food because a co-op is coming to town. If you don’t think there is real community interest in making the Bethlehem initiative work, visit their website. If you don’t think a co-op can work, consider the thousands that are thriving all across the country under a huge diversity of contexts and conditions.
And if you think the market really is the most efficient way to bring the most healthful food to the most people, consider this video from CNN Headline News anchor Jane Velez-Mitchell. To borrow a line from Uncle Buck, “She’s cookin’ our garbage!”
From where I sit, the mere possibility of freeganism proves the market’s inefficiency. Maybe, just maybe, when it comes to things like food and shelter, we’re done ignoring the fact that a profit-driven market system can’t be expected to actually take care of people. Because that, you know, is our job.