WALPOLE, N.H. – You may have noticed an increase in activity around the Great River Co-op project. Recently, they’ve been asked where the Great River Co-op project stands, if it’s still viable, and why it’s taking so long. These inquiries show there is continued interest in a cooperative grocery store!
The Co-op is currently in a position to move forward with the project, but they need their members, future members and community voices to be behind them in this effort. That means proving to lenders and those working with them on this project that your support it moving forward.
This organization was started a while ago and has survived because it embodies so many good ideas:
• Creating a convenient, year-round market where our community can have access to fresh, healthy, locally grown, locally produced products
• Creating jobs
• Investing in our local economy
• Encouraging farmers to keep farming and keeping our existing farmland open and in production
• Connecting our community with our local producers and improving its health through access and education
• Promoting our local producers
But regardless of how good these ideas are, getting them to take root and grow takes time, energy, and opportunity.
The co-op’s agreements are still in place with MEDC and Bensonwood to build and stock the building. The co-op’s board is developing additional opportunities with the Cooperative Fund of New England to act as a fiscal agent for potential grants and tax-deductible donations; and with Antioch University New England and Keene State College to create internship opportunities. They are also working with Keene State’s architecture students to create a site plan and preliminary building design.
The next steps include bringing on a project manager who can guide our project and creating a development team to carry out a member loan and donation campaign.
Once the store is open, you won’t need to work there but everyone needs to work together to get those doors open!
They need reinforcements-more of their Owner/Members to join the board of directors, volunteer at events and generally spread the word. Remember, the Co-op will be your store. It’s not Shaw’s or Staples where you might have a “member card.” It’s a co-op and co-ops are organized and run by its Owners/Members.
So how can you help?
• Engage in conversations about the benefits of a cooperative store
• Spend an hour joining in the fun at an event promoting the co-op
• Display membership brochures in your place of business or a poster in the window.
• Join on a committee or help plan an event
• If you’re already a member, consider purchasing more shares so your co-op has operating capital and so other members can see your commitment
They need the community to commit to the project financially, with expertise, with time, and at the very least, or perhaps, at the very most, with your voice.