In “The Story of Kennett: Shaping Our Future One Child at a Time,” a chapter was devoted to common themes that contributed to the many youth programs success. One process that repeated itself over and over again started with a community member seeing a need, followed by bringing together a community group to address the need and with passion and ownership a community effort was born.
Historic East Linden Project (aka Carter CDC), After the Bell, The Garage Youth Center, YoungMoms, and Project Salud are just a few of the efforts that started this way. It appears that underlying the initiative was a belief that each person has a role to play (regardless of title or position.) Also, there was evidence that organizing a grassroots effort was freeing not only to the organizer/s, but was an answer to dealing with the larger inflexible systems.
It is refreshing to see that this pattern is still repeating itself and most recently with the new Kennett Food Co-Op that is being organized. The story goes: “The idea for a food co-op in Kennett Square all started over a bowl of rice and veggies. Britton Mendenhall was having lunch with a food-enthusiast and farmer friend, discussing the food system and how one person could hope to make a difference in a system so large and overwhelming.
As Britton began brainstorming all of the changes she would like to see in her local food environment, her friend, who had worked at Weaver's Way Co-op in Philadelphia, mentioned that a food co-op seemed to be the perfect model to connect all the dots. At the mention of a food co-op, a light bulb went off, and the idea was born. A few months later on a cold, rainy night, the first community meeting was held at the Garage Community and Youth Center when over sixty community members attended.”
The Kennett Square Food Co-op will be a community-owned grocery store, located in the center of the borough, that aims to meet the food needs of all the residents in Kennett Square and surrounding areas.
Along with this admirable mission, there are some over-riding values that will speak to many of us. Accessible, affordable, natural foods purchased locally while keeping in mind the environment and our health. Passion and personal ownership will drive this effort and there is no doubt that this effort will be successful with this kind of a start.
Another thing you will observe; this effort is also being driven by a younger energetic group of individuals. Check out their web site of board members and you will see smiling faces of the millennial generation. A quote from “The Story of Kennett” that spoke about the values of this generation: “They care about work-life balance, social commitment, networking, realism, being well-informed, and utilizing technology and time management. This group certainly reflects these qualities.
The Kennett Food Co-Op has been incorporated, has a board of directors and is moving into the phase of recruiting members and a feasibility study. To move forward with plans for constructing a store in town, they will need 400 members followed by a total of 800 members to start construction.
They would like this to be a community-wide investment of all ages, races and income groups. In speaking with some of the leadership at a recent fundraiser, I have learned that they will explore creative ways to assure that this opportunity is open to all community members. The principle that every member has one vote is certainly a way to assure parity.
And, what can a resident of Kennett Square do? Attend one of the information sessions; sign-up to be a member; sponsor someone less fortunate to become a member and join the passion and commitment for developing a Kennett Community Co-Op. We are learning that it is this kind of grassroots effort that is shaping and creating the community we want to live in and raise a family!