Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
the important point is not that on the one hand we preach to the sensuous gratification of our souls, and on the other conduct ourselves according to the inevitable demands of the life-routine that has developed through the last three or four centuries. And few people are particularly inclined to go into this fundamental problem of the present time. Why is this? It is because this dualism between the external life and our so-called spiritual strivings has really invaded life, and it has become very strong in the last three or four centuries. Most people today when speaking of the spirit mean something entirely abstract, foreign to the world, not something which has the power to lay hold of daily life.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Within a window within
a window shimmers a view
shot headlong to a dizzy infinity
Somewhere inside this mirrored resonance
pictures spill out—
tunneled doppelgangers of spitting
images and greenish reflections
It’s almost too much
to take in with just two eyes
A funnel of double echo
location, a treasure map revealing
nothing, a key hidden so well
it will most likely be forgotten
Monday, August 3, 2009
One of the highlights of my summer was being in Pittsburgh PA from June 11th to the 13th to attend CCMA, the annual meeting and educational forum for the food cooperative community. It was my and fellow HCC board member Tony Womack’s great privilege to represent our co-op, along with General Manager Damian Tody.
Over 300 co-op board members, general managers, and staff attended from around 84 food cooperatives from across the country. Of these, there were quite a few start-up co-ops represented (which was inspiring for me to see)—all gaining knowledge and support for their future stores, in the spirit of “cooperation among cooperatives.”
This was my and Tony’s first opportunity to attend a CCMA (Consumer Cooperative Management Association) conference, and we both feel the experience was nothing short of astounding. A quote on a tee shirt that got Tony’s attention: “Cooperate Like You Mean It!”
Coincidentally, we were in Steel City during the Pittsburgh Penguins’ win of the 2009 Stanley Cup—so emotions were charged, and there was good energy around the city.
“Everything, from experiencing the excellent ‘green’ Westin Hotel and Conference facility to the closing dinner banquet and entertainment atop the roof of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, inspired and stirred my personal passions for the food cooperative movement,” Tony says. “I saw an entire forest of food coop ‘trees’ where before I had only seem one ‘tree,’ our HCC coop. Our tree, among the forest, is so much stronger and more resilient than I previously understood.”
The 53rd annual conference (yes! this has been happening since the 1950’s!) was organized by the brilliant, hilarious Ann Hoyt, Professor of Consumer Science at the University of Wisconsin. Hoyt also serves as director of the University’s Center for Cooperatives—from which we absorbed some recent research data.
The theme By Art and Design: Thriving in Trying Times, along with quotations from Pittsburgh native son Andy Warhol, were used to illustrate some key points at the conference, like finding opportunities for success during a prolonged recession, and inspiring action.
When we weren’t getting to know other cooperators over a meal or listening to a speaker, Tony, Damian, and I were ensconced in a workshop of our choice. Tony thought one of the funniest things he heard a presenter say: “When I was asked to speak here today, I thought I would be speaking to about 40 weed smoking hippies.”
Of course, we were a far more diverse group than that. And workshop topics had a strong relevance to today’s issues. For example, Tony attended a workshop about how the cooperative business model could play a role in dealing with health care reform.
He enjoyed learning about the current administration’s relationship with cooperatives, and how we could leverage this to achieve significant progress in creating a cooperative economy.
Tony also enjoyed learning creative ways to enhance the connection between the Board and you, the co-op owners. He hopes to craft an effective Owner Linkage plan to communicate more effectively with HCC owners.
“While the workshops and speakers were informative and inspiring, I found that just talking to other food coop board members, general managers, and staff over lunch or dinner was so intriguing,” Tony says. “While all food coops are organized pretty much the same, significant differences exist among them in their approach to governance, their relationship to their members and to their respective communities.”
Tony really saw this in action in an exhibit of various co-ops’ ‘Ends’ (mission statements.) He says the beliefs and values that drive each co-op differed, but all wanted to make a positive and sustainable difference in their communities.
In a smorgasbord style-panel discussion of “Sustainability Successes” I learned about the myriad ways co-ops are stepping more lightly on the Earth, both within and outside store facilities. A representative from recent San Diego start-up People’s Organic Foods Market in Ocean Beach talked about ‘solar paint’ (material that has energy-absorbing cells), adopting a zero-waste initiative, lobbying for bike lanes to their co-op, etc—all with the intention to Reduce, Reuse, and Repair.
I learned more about the ingenious and successful food shed program La Montanita Natural Food Coop in Albuquerque has undertaken in the last few years—a shining (and soon-to-be profitable) example of how a co-op can strengthen local food systems. Other co-op representatives shared about programs as diverse as helping to establish easements for local farms through the support of co-op ownership, to spearheading full-spectrum plastics recycling in their area.
I indulged in Ann Hoyt’s workshops on the history of cooperative businesses, and especially enjoyed “Cooperatives During the Depression.” (I felt like I was in college again!) I got to brainstorm about Member Participation with Julie Cross, Board member from Davis Food Co-op in Davis CA, while we walked along one of Pittsburgh rivers, during a workshop led by Marilyn Scholl, of Cooperative Development Services (CDS.)
Finally, in a panel discussion on Building Local Food Systems, I jotted down ideas while hearing a representative from Organic Valley speak, as well as folks doing what they can to foster local food networks from their respective co-op stores.
In all, it was a lot to take in, but we hope to use what we learned this year to make our co-op even stronger, and increase community, one step at a time.