Things are really picking up speed with Catonsville Cooperative Market! We plan on continuing to keep everyone updated with our website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and newsletter. Our events can also be found on the Patch calendar. Here on the blog, we’ll be discussing community issues more in depth, with the goal of answering many of the questions our neighbors may have. Over the next several weeks, the discussion points will focus on the Cooperative Identity, Values, and Principles established by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA). The ICA was founded in 1895, and serves as the main support and educational resource for cooperative enterprise worldwide. The current incarnation of cooperative principles was established in 1995, based on 100 years of experience guiding cooperative efforts of many kinds, in many cultures, all over the globe. If you are curious to know why a group of your neighbors is forming Catonsville Cooperative Market, instead of campaigning to get a Whole Foods in Catonsville, these principles contain the answer.
The first principle is the foundation for the rest, in my opinion. It states, “Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination,” (ICA website)The principle of open and voluntary membership is what makes a co-op different from a club. In the case of most food co-ops, members receive certain specific benefits, but the doors are open to all. In our case specifically, the ultimate goal is a market open to the public which offers a member discount or dividend. We want to benefit the entire community, not just our members. This is in keeping with another principle we’ll discuss later.
That being said, membership is the backbone of any co-op. It is a major source of seed money, publicity, ideas and oftentimes, labor. Any start-up needs support, and the same is true for Catonsville Cooperative Market. We will make every effort to make membership accessible to anyone who is interested with scholarships and payment plans. Currently, in our formative years, membership is not only a commitment, but a leap of faith. Our Founding Members will be the ones who make a storefront possible, decide what we sell, and how we will sell it. Our Founding Members chose our logo, and will vote on many other critical issues over the next year. Our first major goal is 100 Founding Members. This infusion of support will enable us to conduct essential feasibility and market research, and to secure a community presence.
Membership is an investment in a venture that aims to bring sustainable, accessible and affordable goods to the community and can bring you dividends in return. Founding Members are encouraged to vote in our upcoming Steering Committee elections. Become a Founding Member of Catonsville Cooperative Market, and be part of the Catonsville renaissance! You can find more information on our website, or by emailing email@example.com. We also have Volunteer Meetings the first Saturday of every month at 10 am at Atwater’s in Catonsville.