Cultivate Your Community

Welcoming Improvement

Creating a store that reflects the community it serves AND occupies is a difficult endeavor. At Durham Co-op Market they are committing to the hard work of being welcoming to every shopper, in a way that each shopper will feel welcomed. In this video, Leila Wolfrum, General Manager at Durham Co-op Market, describes their ongoing process of continuous improvement in doing the important work [...]

Principles of ‘Openness’

Co-op Principle #1: Open & Voluntary Membership; in this installment filmed for the 2019 Cooperative Cafe series, LaDonna challenges us to deeply examine 'Openness' and 'Voluntary' at our own co-ops. Can we see ourselves in the Co-ops' story? Can our neighbors? Even when we struggle to compete to be seen or heard in the crowded marketplace, cooperative have a competitive advantage when it comes [...]

Columinate: Who We Are

At Columinate, we are catalysts for common good. Our member-consultants share strategies, tools, and skills to help purpose-driven organizations build and empower community. From the city to the suburbs and beyond, co-ops are both the foundation and the backbone of strong communities. Our role is to illuminate solutions to guide these organizations forward. Founded in 1994, Columinate works with mission-driven organizations on their most [...]

Columinate Supports Ohio Startup Gem City Market

Consultants bring innovation, passion to the groundbreaking project (from Left) Corrine Saunders, Kenya Baker, Lela Klein, Wynston Estis and Amaha Sellassie participate in the Gem City Market ceremonial groundbreaking. Dayton, OH September 30, 2019: A groundbreaking engagement is underway between Columinate consultants and Gem City Market in Dayton, OH. The consulting cooperative is providing managers-on-contract to support a 2020 store [...]

Restoring Trust and Vibrancy in a Co-op Community

Central Co-op Seattle, WA Year founded: 1978 Number of members: 14,200 Consumer member investment: $100 Worker member investment: $6,340 (12 years) Number of employees: 120 Locations: Seattle and Tacoma (opening date late spring TBD) When the Central Co-op in Seattle, Wash. proposed a vote to merge with the Tacoma Food Co-op in 2015, the memberships of both co-ops overwhelmingly approved it. Both communities saw [...]

Expanding the Boundaries of Retailing in Local Communities

Contemporary food co-ops have begun important discussions in their organizations around equity and inclusion. As part of that process, they’ve had to accept and deal with some painful truths that their co-ops have not always been perceived as inclusive, especially through the shopping experience. Food co-op customers in particular are often skewed toward a certain demographic—white, educated, affluent people. Outreach to those who are [...]

Unity: The New Co-op Mission

The founding vision for Outpost was to be a "safe-haven for people who felt like they weren't included" and Mehnert contends that that mission is truer today than ever. Drawing comparisons to the social rebellions of the 60s and 70s that birthed many of our modern Co-ops, Pam Mehnert General Manager at Outpost Natural Foods in Milwaukee, WI, examines the conditions that our co-ops [...]

Who Is Helping Who?

In his role as Executive Director of a Non-Profit Young Kim, Board President at Outpost Natural Foods in Milwaukee, WI explores implicit biases that we may bring with us while reaching out to "aid" communities of various ethnic and class distinctions. His is a cautionary tale that warns against bringing in our own preconceptions and baggage while at the same time attempting to erode [...]

Deepening the Work of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

By LaDonna Sanders–Redmond Seward Community Co-op (Minneapolis, Minn.) began its equity work in the fall of 2013. Seward’s second store, Friendship, and its first restaurant/commissary production facility, the Creamery Café, both opened in 2015. Building the Friendship Store in an historically African-American community required taking a closer look at the co-op’s commitment to equitable relationships as stated in the Seward ends statement. Taking a deep [...]

Using Marketing to Build Success: Making Cooperative Ownership and Governance Real

By Rebecca Torpie, Thane Joyal 196 May-June 2018  What does it mean to be an owner of a consumer cooperative? At the most fundamental level, cooperative ownership means that we are in business together. And for the owners of a cooperative that is under substantial market pressure (and what business isn’t?), everything the business does needs to match the needs and aspirations of the community that [...]