To our local community,
You may have noticed an increase in activity around the Great River Co-op project. We’ve been working behind the scenes to re-energize the effort for several months now. Recently, we’ve been asked where the Great River Co-op project stands, if it’s still viable, and why it’s taking so long. We on the co-op’s board of directors greatly appreciate these inquiries because it shows there is continued interest in a cooperative grocery store in our area!
We are currently in a position to move forward with the project, but we need our members, future members and community voices to be behind us in this effort. That means proving to lenders and those working with us on this project that you support it moving forward-in writing.
Now for some updates:
This organization was started a while ago and has survived because it embodies so many good ideas:
• creating a convenient, year-round market where our community can have access to fresh, healthy, locally grown, locally produced products;
• creating jobs;
• investing in our local economy;
• encouraging farmers to keep farming and keeping our existing farmland open and in production;
• connecting our community with our local producers and improving its health through access and education;
• promoting our local producers.
But regardless of how good these ideas are, getting them to take root and grow takes time, energy, and opportunity.
We have prepared the ground. The co-op’s agreements are still in place with MEDC and Bensonwood to build and stock the building. The co-op’s board is developing additional opportunities with the Cooperative Fund of New England to act as a fiscal agent for potential grants and tax-deductible donations; and with Antioch University New England and Keene State College to create internship opportunities. We are also working with Keene State’s architecture students to create a site plan and preliminary building design. We have updated the website, launched an active Facebook presence, and are redesigning our newsletter delivery in order to reach more of you.
Our next steps include bringing on a project manager who can guide our project and creating a development team to carry out a member loan and donation campaign. (What better place to invest than in your own community?) But, to enable these plans to succeed, the co-op needs your energy and ideas. Once the store is open, you won’t need to work there. But we all need to work together to get those doors open.
Right now, the board of directors includes six people (aided by one very dedicated volunteer). And that brings back the issue of a shortage of time and energy. We need reinforcements-more of our Owner/Members to join the board of directors, volunteer at events and generally spread the word. As board members, we need to know that we are making plans and decisions not just because we believe in this project, but because you do, too.
Remember, the Co-op will be your store. It’s not Shaw’s or Staples where you might have a “member card” but don’t have any say in the operations of the store. It’s a co-op and co-ops are organized and run by its Owners/Members. (That’s all of us!)
So how can you help?
• Engage in conversations with friends and neighbors about the benefits of a cooperative store (link to site)
• Spend an hour or two joining in the fun at an event promoting the co-op.
• Display membership brochures in your place of business or a poster in the window. (email us for copies)
• Join on a committee or help plan an event (we have plans for an annual meeting/party including local music and local food!)
• If you’re already a member, consider purchasing more shares so your co-op has operating capital and so other members can see your commitment.
Bottom line: We need our community to commit to the project financially, with expertise, with time, and at the very least, or perhaps, at the very most, with your voice.
Please complete the supporter survey!
Together, we’ve all planted the seed. The next step is to nourish it!