I want to take some time, in this season of gratitude, to thank all of the people who have taken on the challenge of bringing us at the Co-op along on the initial journey of understanding our part in our racist culture and policies. I can’t imagine how exhausting and frustrating it must be, day in and day out, to teach—often ever so gently—basic understanding on topics that our teachers have dealt with every day of their lives and have physically experienced from their ancestors’ lives. We have benefited here at the Co-op from several folks who have helped to guide the beginning of our long journey. Many of you who attended last year’s annual meeting have met Tabitha Pohl-Moore, who most recently has signed on to the task of assisting our Co-op with its learning. She will also be moderating a panel of BIPOC entrepreneurs who supply our Co-op at our next Annual Meeting, presented virtually on Wednesday, November 10th, beginning at 5:30 pm. This conversation will be focused on the things that we can do to support these entrepreneurs struggling up a steep slope, both individually and as a cooperative. Please join us!
Tabitha also crafted a series of five workshops for our management team, to review basic information that we need to know, as well as point out the correlations between and among all of these racist policies, from time immemorial to our current food system. Now, she is working on collecting data from our staff via a survey—to better understand where our population is situated, in order to configure educational workshops and affinity discussions throughout our Co-op.
A couple of years ago, we also worked with LaDonna Sanders Redmond, a nationally known trainer with significant co-op experience who started us on the path of understanding. She has been very active with teachings that link some of the original Rochdale cooperators’ decisions in the 19th century to our work today.
This past week, I was able to attend a national presentation through our co-op of cooperatives, NCG, presented by TMI Consulting, with more conversations about some of the nuances and steps that we can continue to take to effectively make change in our organizations and communities.
All of this work is, or should be, a new constant in the lives of those of us who do not identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). Readings, podcasts, music, art—all are important ways for us to work on ourselves, our beliefs, and actions, while simultaneously developing our admiration of ignored or forgotten contributors. It has been a privilege to work on these issues with some of the brightest and most interesting people I have met, and I continue to reach higher levels of admiration for them, even as I find more flaws and beliefs within myself to address. I once more want to thank our shareholder who stepped forward to challenge our actions in the Co-op a couple of years ago. The suffering that we caused was regrettable, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to understand and address our personal, institutional, and industry shortcomings.
I’ll see you at the virtual Annual Meeting!
By Sabine Rhyne, General Manager