This time of year, our world is full of stories. The stories of the holidays, of course. Macy's windows. Even Star Wars is back! It's got me thinking about the power of stories, and also: the difference between following a story and choosing to be part of it.
In the summer of 2014, I heard a story about people who wanted to start Chicago Market - a food co-operative in Chicago. Nothing less than the most beautiful, sustainable, friendly and socially conscious full-service grocery store on our city’s north side. A co-op with a vision for an honest food community.
I knew these things mattered to me. And I knew that I could do more than follow the story -- I could be part of it. I became an Owner, and I was also elected to Chicago Market's first-ever Board of Directors. Over the past year, I’ve worked with a truly incredible group of volunteers. These are people who are passionate about food and sustainability; committed to values-based, democratic decision-making; creative problem-solvers; dedicated to and optimistic about the idea that we can act together to make positive changes in our community and in our food system.
We've hosted a lot of events and made a ton of progress this year, and we're moving quickly forward with site selection and fundraising. We're now almost at 700 Owners and gaining every day.
But Owners are the lifeblood of any co-operative, and Chicago Market needs more. Owners are the ones who make it real: those who hear about something great and not only give it their nod of approval or a Facebook “Like,” but step forward to say, “I’m in. I want to see this happen for Chicago and I want to be part of the story.”
It’s been a challenging 2015 in Chicago, a big city with big problems. I am more convinced than ever that real change has to happen through building community, block by block, neighbor by neighbor, table by table. This is what co-ops do, and they do it with a model that works.
You’ve been following our emails, perhaps even our Tweets and posts and blogs — now’s the time to step forward and be part of the story.
There are tangible benefits, of course. But I became part of this story, and I ask you to consider the same, because I asked myself about the intangible: "What can I do to create the change I seek in my community? How can I be part of the story?"
If you’re an Owner already, I thank you for stepping forward and seeing that you can be — you ARE — part of our vision.
Through the end of this year, we need to #getto80. Eighty new Owners will pay for a Market Study that helps us hone in on the best site locations and provides critical support for our funding plans. We’ve even got a nice “thank you” gift for you if you join us by December 31.
I wish us all a joyful holiday season. May our 2016 stories be full of peace, light and of course, co-operation.
Karen Jacobs, Board of Directors