COURAGEOUS EVOLUTION: STRATEGIES FOR STRONG CO-OPS AND COMMUNITIES
The grocery industry is changing at a dizzying pace. Between Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, the invasion of the Lidls and the Aldis, and the adoption of e-commerce, it is hard to keep up. Food co-ops are striving for relevance in an increasingly crowded market. It takes courage to evolve and address the imminent change that is upon us. Our co-ops are a vehicle to achieve democratic communities that build capital, good jobs, farmers, and healthy food access. We must identify the communities that feel excluded from our co-ops and better serve and proactively reach out to embrace new communities and new technologies, while deepening our connection with our members and vendors and preserving our cooperative identity.
Throughout history, cooperatives across sectors have served as pioneers of change, pooling resources, organizing for their collective good. We, as food co-ops, continue that legacy in our communities, by expanding access to healthy food, by supporting fair treatment of our employees and farmers, and by fostering democracy and wealth-building in our communities. Our cooperative difference is an opportunity to reach out and engage new and diverse communities, address issues of injustice and racism, food security and access. Our role as change agent is even more important in this time of upheaval in our communities and our country as a whole. We must invest in our leaders and train new leaders, and have the courage and perseverance for sustainable and equitable change in our communities.