“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
One cannot escape the fact that it is a major election year. The mud is being slung, the funds are being solicited, the pundits are making their predictions. Despite the many who aspire, we will end up choosing between two candidates, neither of whom may be our first choice. Some of us will be vocal about our choice, informed or not, and will cross our fingers as the votes are counted. Some of us will keep our choice to ourselves, perhaps not wanting to be on the “wrong” side of such a polarizing issue. Some of us will not vote at all, perhaps in silent protest, perhaps out of apathy. In this political climate, it can be hard to see the value of one’s vote. Inevitably, even if your candidate wins, there will be future disappointment. No President does everything they promised to do, and some honest efforts are simply a failure. It can look like we live in discouraging times, when it comes to democracy on a large scale.
Despite all this, we are incredibly fortunate. The power of our democracy is reflected in so many other ways OUTSIDE of the voting booth. With social media becoming a major influence in all of our lives, we vote daily, just by what we pay attention to, comment on, or share. We vote with our wallets, sending clear messages about our ideals, habits, and priorities. We cast a vote each time we turn on the television, go to a restaurant, or donate to a cause. Perhaps even more importantly, we vote with what we DON’T do, what we DON’T buy, where we DON’T go. The true power of democracy is found in the small choices we make in our daily lives.
The second of the Seven Cooperative Principles is “Democratic Member Control”. All co-ops share this principle, food co-ops, housing co-ops, electrical, farming, educational...it's fundamental. Members have a voice in the business practices, community interactions, scope and scale of projects, and leadership process. The International Cooperative Alliance states:
“Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership.”
Currently, Catonsville Cooperative Market is electing it’s second annual Steering Committee, which will serve as Board of Directors until 2013. This is the group who will handle fundraising, publicity and member outreach throughout the critical incorporation process and feasibility study. It may be tough to see the truth in “one person, one vote” on the national scale, it is clearly illustrated in local efforts. If you have an interest in a community owned, economically and environmentally sustainable food store, which consistently supports local suppliers, here in Catonsville, your vote matters. Membership involvement, enthusiasm, and support are the only way we will see Catonsville Cooperative Market become a reality. To become a Member, visit www.catonsvillecooperativemarket.com.