One Member's Stand
by Sid Fleisher
The origins of Honest Weight Food Coop are rooted deeply in the 1960s and the 1970s, a time of experimentation in lifestyles, a time of protest against the established political and economic trends, and a time of gathering together in communities to celebrate life. The issues of healthy eating and food production became central to our lifestyles. HWFC began over 25 years ago as a group of people who came together seeking an alternative to the supermarket mentality. We wanted healthy whole grain organic food which was not easy to find in our area. Buying as a group from wholesale distributors outside the area, we were able to get the goods we wanted and at a good price too. We shared the ordering and distribution and our numbers grew quickly. Even as we entered the early storefront phase of HWFC, we tried to maintain our basic beliefs of worker/owners sharing responsibility, a strong community spirit, and the ongoing search for healthy food. There are still many Coop members and shoppers who believe in these principles and practice their beliefs.
The need to get our ideas out to the community is essential. The nagging question in my own mind is how do we get our message out there and what is our message? The 2002 budget figure for advertising is $60,000. During this past year, HWFC ran a series of television ads on commercial stations. This for me goes against all the ideals of our basic cooperative and alternative philosophy. Television represents all that is mainstream and commercial in our culture. The Coop, for me, is an alternative to this-not mainstream, noncommercial, and community run for our own benefit. Paid TV publicity comes at a great cost, both economically and philosophically.
In my opinion a more thoughtful and productive line of action to spread our ideals would be to establish a procedure that would support local groups and individuals who work toward positive social and environmental goals. I propose that we establish the "Honest Weight Food Coop Foundation." This charitable foundation would award annual grants to community groups, programs, and even individuals who support and work toward local community efforts that further the basic beliefs of alternatives to the mass culture. These activities might include: educational efforts, agricultural and gardening initiatives, sustainable housing concepts, and many other interesting alternative ideas. Needless to say, we are investing in our own village, which would continue to support and shop in our store. This project I believe could be started with a small sum of money ($30,000-$40,000) added to annually and invested in appropriately green or sustainable businesses. This might provide for awards of $500 to $1,000 to eight or a dozen recipients every year. Spreading these endowments throughout the year would maximize notoriety. This small amount of money invested could go a long way toward developing the types of philosophies and practices that we still have in our hearts and minds.
What better form of advertising could we get? The publicity that we might generate through this type of activity would be extraordinary and practically free. It would champion our philosophy and spirit of community support, and it would provide for the development of more alternative actions in our culture.
One Member's Stand is a forum for our members' concerns. We welcome your submission.