Over the past few days, my life has been very Co-operative. On Saturday night, I participated in a panel discussion about the past, present and future of co-operatives in Vancouver. On Monday night I was part of the riproarin’, kick-ass Annual General Meeting of the Eastend Storefront Food Co-operative. Here’s a quick – and awesome – synopsis of these events that will make you want to get outside and build a little community right now:
The Players: Marty Frost (Facilitator and Co-operative guru), panelists from Co-op Radio, The People’s Co-op Bookstore, East End Food Co-op, and CECC Credit Union.
The Venue: Rhizome Cafe on Broadway, hosted by Co-op Radio 102.7FM.
Awesome Quotation: “Pay day loan companies are directly responsible for the cycle of poverty in our communities. They are criminal and should be stopped.”
Amazing Moment: The myriad perspectives from the panel on the answer to the question: “How will co-operatives be relevant in the future?’ I won’t spoil it (you can listen to the broadcast at 102.7FM), but it had something to do with building community from chaos…
The Result: Changemakers even cooperated to get each other drinks and help each other out the door. It was a beautiful thing!
The EEFC Must Grow or Die! (Seriously!)
The Venue: The Lion’s Den on Commercial Drive.
Awesome Quotation: “I don’t want this to be taken the wrong way – and maybe I’m just a yuppie, part of the gentrification of The Drive – but that railing in front of the store looks like it’s from a militant 1970s era that doesn’t exist anymore. What about the bright and shiny co-ops out there?” (Editor’s note: the dark, brooding, communist railing from the 1970s is now officially retro!)
Amazing Moment: BOD President Bill Bargeman’s heartfelt, frank and sense-of-urgency-laden report for the year. It was followed by an outpouring of enthusiasm from members and the Co-op now has a fully-peopled board.
The Result: Change is coming to Commercial Drive, people. And if my name started with a “W” and ended with a “Hole Foods” I’d be gettin’ pretty nervous* about my market share right about now.
Needless to say, both experiences were fantastic examples of powerfully positive communities coming together during not-so-great times in order to make a supportive difference. Now get out there and build some community!
*for the record, International Deliciousness Provider, Whole Foods, probably shouldn’t worry too much about the EEFC…pretty funny though, right?