Why Have a Sister Co-op?

by Myrna Miranda-O’Neill

Principle #6 of the Cooperative Principles: Cooperation among co-operatives

When I’ve been asked why our coop has a Sister Co-op, the short answer is, because “it is what we do.”  One of our guiding principles is to help other co-ops, but I believe that as a co-operative community and as part of a cooperative movement we look for alternatives to build a prosperous equitable community and for sincere ways to connect and respond to need at home and abroad with the intention of empowering each other.

These are the reasons that inspire ideas like the Sister Co-op Project in Nicaragua, our involvement with the project Planting Hope, also in Nicaragua, our support for Child Haven and recently, our Sister Co-op Project with Cooperativa Orgánica Madre Tierra in Puerto Rico. Through these initiatives we reinforce our sense of purpose and define ourselves beyond a storefront with healthy food.

These ideals we hold are also challenging for a small co-op like ours and this project has a substantial list of tasks, but as a coworker has said,”We have a very generous community.” I have to agree. Volunteers came together, paying their travel expenses to go work and help out member farmers of our Sister Coop. Members have responded by helping organize the idea into action: we have kept our community informed thanks to the web page we now have, a system is in place so that people can round up at the register, a donation jar is also in place for those who rather use that method. We held a plant sale starting on Memorial Day weekend, and again the register has been set up for this purpose, signs and poster were ready to go as plant donations were dropped off. All of this, thanks to the interest and involvement of our co-op community. Plant sales have this beautiful parallel of supporting the creation of beautiful garden spaces here and abroad. Many of us can look at the blooming lilies, lilacs, and such, knowing the garden where they came from and smile. Thanks for supporting the plant sale with your hard work and generous heart.

As we continue our work of support for Puerto Rico through the Cooperativa Orgánica Madre Tierra, I hope you can attend our next activity on June 22, 6-8 on the third floor of the Hardwick Memorial Building, Food Sovereignty Solidarity for Puerto Rico. This will be a presentation and dialogue with Nelson Alvarez Febles. Nelson is on the board of our sister coop and has been studying and actively participating in the food sovereignty movement in Puerto Rico. This will be a great opportunity to get direct information about the co-op and to reaffirm our support for the mission and values of the food sovereignty movement in Puerto Rico, its purpose, and determination, and sense of justice, and their efforts toward sustainable and equitable solutions to the critical environmental, economical and political challenges. Please sign up at the register to help set up chairs at 5:30 or to help clean up after the talk.

Muchas gracias.

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