By Alexis Alexander,
This October, GreenStar is joining over 30,000 co-ops and credit unions across the United States in celebrating Co-op Month, observed nationally since 1964. This year, the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International has chosen “Co-operatives Commit” as the theme for the month, highlighting the many ways that co-ops are committed to their communities. Co-op Month reminds us that GreenStar is just one of many co-ops that are committed to the value of shared ownership to achieve common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations. From food co-ops to farmer co-ops, worker co-ops to credit unions, and housing co-ops to energy co-ops many different types of cooperatives contribute to our communities and the economy. Co-ops are also more common than you might think: here in the United States, 1 in 3 people are members of at least one co-op or credit union. Nationwide, cooperatives create 2.1 million jobs and generate more than $650 billion in sales and other revenue annually. Because they are member-owned, co-ops empower people from all walks of life to work together to build a better world. According to Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), “When you shop at your local food co-op, you’re getting more than good food for you and your family. You are also joining with other people in your community to build local ownership, provide good jobs, support your local farmers and producers, and build stronger, more vibrant communities.”
For example, the NFCA, which GreenStar joined this year, includes more than 35 food co-ops and start-ups across New England and New York, locally owned by more than 130,000 people. Together, these co-ops provide good jobs for over 2,000 people, generate revenues of more than $315 million, and purchase more than $60 million from local producers each year. A recent survey found that member co-ops demonstrate their commitment to their communities in a wide variety of ways, including programs supporting local producers, food security, sustainability, education for young people, and collaboration with local community organizations. We know this is true for GreenStar. Our strong support of local, sustainability-oriented farmers and producers provides them with greater economic growth and security while enabling us to fulfill our commitment to healthy food and eco-conscious products. Our solar farm furthers our commitment to sustainability and a healthy planet, while our FLOWER healthy food access program provides
We know this is true for GreenStar. Our strong support of local, sustainability-oriented farmers and producers provides them with greater economic growth and security while enabling us to fulfill our commitment to healthy food and eco-conscious products. Our solar farm furthers our commitment to sustainability and a healthy planet, while our FLOWER healthy food access program provides opportunity for more members of our community to participate in and benefit from the co-op. We partner with numerous community organizations and schools each year, providing thousands of dollars in donations to help them further their initiatives.
As I further consider this theme of “Co-ops Commit,” I can’t help but think of its relevance to GreenStar’s upcoming vote. Starting Oct. 15, owners will be asked to vote on a new owner benefit, the patronage refund. This benefit would provide a refund to each owner in profitable years, based on their store purchases, and will offer a significant tax break to GreenStar, enabling us to strengthen our financial resources.
While our co-op commits collectively to strengthen our community, as owners, each of us has the responsibility to make an individual commitment to our co-op. We make the most noticeable contribution by shopping at GreenStar. But a truly strong co-op is one in which owners engage in the voting process to ensure good democratic process and representation in decision-making. A strong voter turnout by a wide diversity of our owners guarantees that we will better meet the needs of a larger majority of our membership base.
In celebration of Co-op Month in 2017, will you commit to vote during the Oct. 15 to Nov. 14 voting period?