Project Manager’s Report
I’ve just returned from the Consumers’ Cooperative Marketing Association conference in Philadelphia. This is the 56th such conference. There are around 400 people here from dozens of co-ops and start-ups, from all across the country, and it’s informative, energetic and inspiring!
Every co-op had to go through the phases we’re going through, and some of them now have been open a long time. They’re selling a lot of groceries and doing great work in their communities. That’s one of the things I love about co-ops—that they’re as much about community as selling food.
I had the opportunity to listen to Margaret Heller talk about food systems and their impact on health. She talked about the dichotomy in our world, between people with access to too much food and the people with too little access, with obesity on one hand and hunger on the other. Her assessment is that there are no technical fixes for this, that it’s a social problem with social and political fixes.
I led a workshop on renegade board members—not because we have that problem, but because other co-ops do, and the conference organizer requested that I facilitate the session. Some forty people attended, almost all of them board members. There was a lot of energy around the issue. When boards are contending with renegades it has a negative impact on the board, members and the co-op itself. We worked on ways to minimize the likelihood of a renegade board member as well as what to do when the issue arises.
Workshops that I attended as a participant include a) ways in which co-ops are providing financial support for local food producers, b) open book management and its positive impacts on both employees and the bottom line and c) a gathering of start-up groups to talk about the issues we face. There were 11 groups represented there, and we are by far the furthest down the path of store development. Our financing issues are around finding the money to open a store; most of the other groups are just trying to figure out how to pay for their website.
The message I got over and over is to be patient, and that it’s worth the wait.
We thought we had a site to lease. The day we made our offer they received another offer to lease, and an offer to purchase. After considering all of the offers carefully they decided to accept the offer to purchase, which leaves us out of that particular picture, at least for the time being. The buyer may not be able to go to closing, or may want to own it to lease it. We’re already exploring that second option.
Before we can develop any store, though, we have to have financing to move forward. That’s going to include a commercial loan. I’m convinced that in today’s lending environment, the only way we’ll get that loan is with a guarantee. The commercial loan, of course, will only be a part of the total financing picture. We’ll need a lot more investment from our owners, as well as a grant from the city and loans from cooperative development funds. The next big step is to find someone with the ability to guarantee a loan and the passionate desire to see Durham have its own community-owned grocery store.
If you’re that person, or you know someone who might be that person, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to sit down and share the details of what we’re working on and where we are in the process. Come on board and help make Durham’s dream a reality!
The Festival for the Eno
Look for us near the Ice Cream vendor at this year's festival on July 4th, 7th, and 8th from 10am until 6pm. The Festival for the Eno is presented by the Eno River Association and all proceeds from the festival go to protect lands along the Eno River. DCM booth volunteers receive a full day pass to the festival on the day that you volunteer! Email email@example.com to volunteer this year!
Cabot Creamery Sponsors Co-op-A-Fair
DCM joined 30 plus local and national co-ops at Cabot Creamery's 2012 Community Tour and Co-Op Fair on Saturday, June 2 at Diamondview on the American Tobacco Campus. It was a beautiful Saturday to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism and community ownership; the hallmark of the Co-Operative mission. Other co-ops in attendance were REI, Weaver Street Market, Self-Help Credit Union and Latino Credit Union. The event culminated in bike riders (cyclists) riding through Durham on their 2,300 mile trek up the east coast starting in Miami and ending in Portland, Maine later this summer to raise awareness for the East Coast Greenway project (also present at the fair). There was food, fun, music and good prize give-aways including a few of our popular vegetable peelers!
Find DCM at the Durham Farmers Market
We are returning to the Durham Farmers Market on select Saturdays this summer and we are looking for volunteers to help us out there. Come sit in the shade of our tent and share your cooperative spirit! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!