Cooperatives are where business and social mission meet. You might think of it as a simple equation: mission + economic engine = lots of community change and empowerment.
Common Ground’s recently completed expansion was taken on to grow its ability to meet the desire of the community to have more food options and to support more local farms while shopping for their grocery needs, but it was also taken on because we knew it would vastly multiple our ability to make an impact on our mission. In 2007, Common Ground was offering a single gardening class per year as its one educational offering. The expansion in 2008 grew our educational offerings to over a dozen classes per year. The 2012 expansion, with the Flatlander Teaching Kitchen opening inside Common Ground, has made it possible for your co-op to offer a dozen educational classes per month and we expect to see close to 1000 learners come through those teaching kitchen doors within the classroom’s first year of existence.
I could write a novella on all the 2012 store expansion is going to make possible as we strive to meet our Ends, in addition to blessing my life with an all organic and local salad bar and a huge selection of amazing regional cheeses. By meeting our need for fresh, healthy food at a store we collectively own, we are making so much more possible.
What is next for your co-op? I heard this question more than any other as I walked the sales floor and talked to dozens upon dozens of co-op owners during grand opening week. That question will be, as always, answered by our collective vision as the owners of Common Ground. In the late fall of 2011, your board of directors led a visioning process that dozens of CGFC owners attended where they shared their dreams and aspirations for the future. From that dynamic input process, six major themes arose:
- even more educational within the co-op and educational outreach to the community
- serve as a source of information on food policy and even lobby on the behalf CGFC’s owners on local food issues
- more stores in the C-U area to reach more areas of the community
- do more with kids both within the co-op and through reaching out to local schools
- create more community gathering space and spaces in which the co-op can support local arts
- increase the fiscal accessibility of the co-op
What’s next for your co-op? Finding the best, most dynamic way to make the dreams you shared with your board in that visioning process possible. How do we do that? We’ve got our ideas here on your staff, but what we really want to hear are all the great ideas you, the owners of Common Ground, have for meeting these six dreams that are shared by most of Common Ground’s owners. We work for you, we need to make sure the way we move forward meets the needs and dreams that our Common Ground community collectively holds.
Your vision and your dreams have lead us to this amazing store and this amazing economic engine for creating powerful community change. We’ll be calling on you over the next six months to help us refine these themes into road maps to the future of Common Ground. I can’t wait to hear what you, the owners of Common Ground, have in mind for our community.