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Thursday
May122016

Bicycle Benefits Rolls out in Kalamazoo

Gaby Gerken

Gaby Gerken

Farmers Market Assistant Manager

 

Kalamazoo Farmers Market has begun! Many people came out and participated in last year’s much-loved bike valet, and this year cyclists will find another added benefit when they bike to market… 

Bicycle Benefits! 

Bicycle Benefits is a program that operates in cities nationwide. The goal is to promote biking to local businesses, and in return those who bike will receive a small discount! This helps the business promote themselves as being bike friendly, decreases parking issues, and overall contributes to a healthy lifestyle. It’s a win/win situation for all those involved. 

How does it work?

Where can I buy my first sticker? 

If you bike to any of our markets (Kalamazoo Farmers Market, 100-Mile Market, or Sunday Market) you can stop by the Co-op Corner to buy your helmet sticker. Put it on your helmet and show it to any of the following market vendors for some great deals, including: 

            i heart jewelry: $5 off bike jewelry
            First Fruits: 10% off total
            Agropraxis Farm: 10% off total
            Pure Meadow Farms: 10% off total
            Handmade Kalamazoo: $18 tees
            Beau Beau’s Biscuits: $1 off pet products
            Blue Dog Family Farm: 10% off total
            IDA-GANT Enterprises: $1 off Fresh Supergreens Beverage
            Lupitas Gourmet Nuts: $1 off 1lp roasted nuts
            The Adventures of Barb and Tammy: $1 off large bag, $.50 off small, or a free granola bar
            Gypsy Kitchen: $.25 off single bag of cookies or $.50 off a half dozen (select flavors)
            Kaleamazoo Chips: $1 off kale chips 

You can also buy a sticker and save at Arcadia Ales, who is offering $1 off your first pint on Monday and Wednesday. We highly recommend stopping by for a beer on Wednesdays before heading down to 100-Mile Market, just off the bike path by the PFC. 

To see the latest businesses to join check out the website map at bicyclebenefits.org, and make sure to tell all your favorite bike friendly establishments about the program too.  Anyone can join by signing up online. 

We hope to see you at market this weekend, and don’t forget to tag your pictures with #bikethezoo. 

Thursday
May122016

Becoming an Antiracist & Anti-oppressive Village

Kama Tai Mitchell

Kama Tai Mitchell

PFC Owner, board secretary

 

At the People’s Food Co-op, the board of directors recently updated our Ends and Sub-Ends statements – our reason for being. We added a new Sub-End that proclaims our vision that because of the Co-op “we are a thriving antiracist/anti-oppressive cooperative village.” 

This statement is a reintroduction to the word village, a concept and practice from time immemorial. Before words, before music, we stuck together for survival. It takes a village for all of us to survive in good health. We must know and support our neighbors, share our gifts with our community, buy locally, and move with integrity. 

A village is only as good as ALL of its people. Not some, ALL. If some villagers are in despair, homeless, or looking for sustenance at a liquor store in a food desert, then the village must support. There is more than enough for everybody, yet some may go without their whole lives. That is what a village is not. 

Author Malidoma Somé is a Dagara shaman from Burkina Faso, West Africa. His insight into the village mentality makes a deep statement. 

 "Ritual, community, and healing — these three are so intertwined in the indigenous world that to speak of one of them is to speak of them all. Ritual, communally designed, helps the individual remember his or her purpose, and such remembering brings healing both to the individual and the community. The community exists, in part, to safeguard the purpose of each person within it and to awaken the memory of that purpose by recognizing the unique gifts each individual brings to this world. Healing comes when the individual remembers his or her identity — the purpose chosen in the world of ancestral wisdom — and reconnects with that world of Spirit. Human beings long for connection, and our sense of usefulness derives from the feeling of connectedness. When we are connected — to our own purpose, to the community around us, and to our spiritual wisdom — we are able to live and act with authentic effectiveness. (The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Ritual, and Community) " 

The idea that “human beings long for connection” is so important to me. It’s true. We all begin as a powerless infant that must be connected with an older human to survive, and that instinct never goes away; we must connect. And since the beginning of civilization, humans have connected over, through, and with food. 

Malidoma Somé says “when we are connected… we are able to live and act with authentic effectiveness.” Read that AGAIN! The People’s Food Co-op of Kalamazoo’s board of directors strives at every meeting to act with authentic effectiveness. We do this by constantly and consciously looking at, refining, and examining our Ends and Sub-Ends. We do this by living into an anti-racist philosophy and identity, and we do this by investigating our effect on our village. How can we live into our Ends and Sub-Ends without the village philosophy?

Our mission can’t stop at the doors of the Co-op, it must spill into every school, every neighborhood and household, every institution and small business. Food sovereignty is what built the very first village in mankind. Let us always remember that.

Thursday
May122016

Claiming an Antiracist Identity: Why and How?

Aliisa Lahti

Aliisa Lahti

PFC Owner, former board director

 

If you read the Coop Scoop regularly, come to the Annual Meeting, or if you’ve ever read the words printed on the wall above the lunch counter, then you know about our Ends. The Ends statement and the Sub-Ends convey the impact the People’s Food Co-op strives to have on the world. We also sometimes call it Chris Dilley’s job description.

ENDS STATEMENT:
The People’s Food Co-op of Kalamazoo exists to create access for all to food that is healthy for people, land and the economy. 
 
SUB ENDS: 
People – Because of PFC:
  • We are a thriving antiracist/anti-oppressive cooperative village.
  • We are a food sovereign community. 
Land – Because of PFC:
  • There is a healthier ecological system.
Economy – Because of PFC:
  • Cooperative business exists in our community.
  • Local jobs exist in our community.
  • Local money stays in our local economy.
Back in 2008, when I was on the board of PFC, we got together for our annual retreat. With the help of our board consultant, Thane, and after much discussion, word-smithing, and snack consuming, we came up with the Ends statement almost as it reads above. (We added the words “for all” last year). When it was complete, we stood back to read it and found it to be clear and inspiring.
 
A year later we decided it would be good to write Sub-Ends to go along with our Ends. Sub-Ends are intended to give some additional detail to the Ends statement we already had and were satisfied with. We wanted to flesh it out a bit, to explain what we meant.
 
It was a Friday night. We were upstairs in the loft at Fire (Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative) on Portage Road. Again, there were snacks and drinks.  Are you noticing a theme here?
 
We broke into three groups based on our interest and passion, each to work on one of the pieces: People, Land, Economy. At that time, I had just recently attended the 2.5 day Understanding and Analyzing Systemic Racism hosted by ERACCE (Eliminating Racism & Creating/Celebrating Equity) for the first time and I was pretty fired up about the “people” piece. I wanted PFC to feel as welcoming to people of all races as it did to me.  
 
As a small group, we had feelings about what we wanted to convey, and what we came up with was this:

“Bridges exist between our multiple diverse communities.”
 
I was just beginning to wrap my mind around institutional racism and its impacts. I was full of passion and seriously lacking in practice and language to express it. I was not yet prepared to claim the identity of Antiracist. And our small group was definitely not about to use the term “antiracist” in policy!
 
Talk of race and racism was popping up here and there around the Co-op at that time. Expansion planning was well underway and there was some healthy, although nerve wracking, discussion taking place around gentrification and how to avoid adding to it.  We were well aware that the racial makeup of our staff was overwhelmingly white, and had historically been mostly white. We knew we wanted to do something about it, and this Sub-End was our attempt at that time to take a step forward. 
 
Looking back, it’s as though this Sub-End was a younger, sort of cute version of the one that now stands in its place.  In 2015, the current board of directors wrote the following new Sub-End, which replaced the old one:

“We are a thriving antiracist/anti-oppressive cooperative village.”
 
This statement is powerful.  We didn’t feel ready to say it before.  Now we are ready, and it is significant that as an organization, we know what we mean when we say it.
 
Today, we find the Co-op with a more racially diverse board and staff than we had in the past.  We also have formed an Antiracist Transformation Team, and we have more shared language and understanding of systemic racism within the whole organization.  This means that when racism surfaces, as it does everywhere, folks have ways to talk about it, and together we can work to find ways to interrupt it.
 
Where we find ourselves today is no accident.  The work of antiracism and anti-oppression has been steadily growing within the People’s Food Co-op culture for years.  And yet, there’s a lot of work still to do, and we have a lot yet to learn.  Aiming toward these Ends can help us keep moving in a good direction.