First, see this:
I notice that the successful and expanding Willie Street Co-op in Madison Wisconsin regularly refers to its members as Owners, and not only that, but they affix the adjective “active” in front of the word “Owner.” How do they know who is active? According to their by-laws, any Owner who has purchased at least one thing in the past year from their Co-op. What a concept! So simple! And if Bloomingfoods applied this rule, how many Active Owners would we actually have?
The answer matters, because according to existing Bloomingfoods By-Laws, in order to even plan to hold a special Member meeting we need a petition signed by 10% of the Members (See section 4.2). Then, the quorum for the meeting itself also needs to be 10% of the members (Section 4.6). See ByLaws:
But since, according to the Board President, we don’t know how many “active” members we have, how can we comply with the ByLaw requirements?
(In contrast, a special Member meeting of the Madison co-op requires 5% of the “owners in good standing” and a quorum of 50 at the meeting . Much less stringent, and since they know who their active owners are, even possible!)
Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing to think about our local situation and more and more, wonder how both local city and county government in conjunction with a re-visioned “Bloomingfoods Local” (the name is Tom Gallagher’s) could begin to actually support and train thousands of young farmers — imagine our suburban lawns, elementary, middle and high school campuses, IU and other large institutional campuses, parks, empty lots, everywhere, all repurposed to grow local organic food! Imagine Bloomington blooming! into a horizontally based local and permacultural, organic food system that creates seed banks and distribution networks, creates and supports food education projects, plus networks and leverages all sorts of existing local food organizations — from the Farmer’s Market, to CSAs, to the Local Growers Guild, the Community Orchard, the Permaculture Guild, the Center for Sustainable Living, the Master Gardeners Association, the Local Orchard Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard — and so on and on! It’s not impossible. In fact, it’s staring us in the face. And to do it we probably also need a physical place, an old warehouse somewhere that could be turned into Bloomingfoods Local Garden Center again — with a giant bulletin board! — and, for now, a skeletal volunteer staff.
The Garden Center at the Eastside store was the one part of Bloomingfoods that, until it closed, was decidedly local, unable to be imitated by Big Food stores, and very very valuable. I know one woman who stopped growing her own food because, when the Garden Center with its knowledgeable staff closed, she had no one to help her with her questions.
Let’s take our example from Maine: