Getting Their Share

The Kensington Community Food Co-op needs 800 members by the end of 2014. | Rendering by MAKE.

Kensington community embraces their nascent food co-op

Stephanie Singer and her husband, Mike, had been interested in joining a food co-op for years, so when she initially heard that the Kensington Community Food Co-op (KCFC) was coming to her neighborhood she was excited. But she concedes, “I was a little skeptical at first since I know these things can take years and years.” After attending the KCFC location announcement party at the Philadelphia Brewing Company’s tasting room on May 4, her reservations disappeared. “I was very impressed by the large turnout,” she says. “It felt like this was really going to happen. At that moment, we were ready to make our financial commitment, and we joined as members.”

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South Philly Food Co-op one step closer to reality with new "75 in 75" campaign

A SPFC memerbship comes with benefits that include free and discounted access to events like the annual local gardens tour. | Photo by Albert YeeBeing lured in by South Philly Food Co-op’s “75 in 75” campaign feels not unlike that strange moment when you realize you can’t turn your radio tuner from WHYY, even though it’s just Patrick Stoner once again trying to get you to part with your money. You want to hear more. And you want to do something good.

It turns out the similar vibe is no coincidence. Alison Fritz, president at SPFC and a chief architect behind the recently launched membership campaign, worked at WHYY.

“I’ll be sitting there yelling at the radio, thinking ‘If they can get 300 new members in 30 minutes, we can get 75!’” says Fritz, a Passyunk Square resident who heads the South Philly Food Co-op board. The “75 in 75” drive is a well-organized effort with hooks ranging from its own hashtag (#75in75) to coordinated potlucks where a SPFC member will come to your dinner table and make the pitch. And, besides having a catchy ring to it, the effort’s numerical namesake – they’re aiming for 75 members in 75 days, ending April 30th – has a tangible meaning. By gaining 75 new people, SPFC crosses the threshold needed to finally secure a brick-and-mortar location. With 368 members and counting, they’re well on their way to the goal of 425.

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Banding Together: Cutting-edge architectural salvage company Greensaw has taken the bold step of becoming an employee-owned co-op. Will the risky move pay off?

Can one imagine an economy in which labor hires capital? Where workers have a legal right to the profits and legal responsibility for the liabilities because they are the owners, where workers jointly manage the firm and themselves in a democratic fashion?

—William Greider, national correspondent for The Nation, in his introduction to The Real World of Employee Ownership

On a blustering snowy weekend in late January, a group of men and women gathered in front of a bedsheet and projector in a timber-framed cabin in Eagles Mere, Pa., to discuss how to become a cooperatively owned business. In between breaks for venison stew, toboggan sledding and heating snow for water, those in attendance heard impassioned speeches about governance and power. Debates over fairness, dignity, and responsibility flared and simmered. A sample policy and procedures manual was presented and picked apart as each person was asked to truly consider Greider’s question.

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Market Share: Elkins Park residents embrace the nascent Creekside Co-op

From the early ’60s through the late ’90s, the Elkins Park business district was an active town center—and Ashbourne Market its de facto town hall. The market eventually occupied a good percentage of the sidewalk-framed storefronts along the main strip, as the owners bought up other businesses to increase space. Technically, it was a grocery store, but it was also a gourmet magnet.
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Feature: Food Power

A Lancaster County Farmers group show how local, organic food makes strong farms and healthy food
by Will Dean

Lancaster County is full of rolling hills, plowed fields and the occasional tall, silver silo; to the average observer, it can all seem the same. With a closer look, though, one plot of turned soil can be radically different from another 50 feet away.
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