Tuesday, October 22, 2013

First Annual Boulevard Pumpkin Festival: A Cooperative Dining Experience

Greetings Coop Family!

I am pleased to be writing about a collaboration that has been in the works for months - The Boulevard Pumpkin Festival - which will be held this Saturday, October 26th from 12-6pm. This is an original vision between local start-up Experience RVA (myself and James Crenshaw) along with the Richmond Food Co-op’s Michele Lord and Susan Hill. After a long road, and a lot of hard work, we are extremely excited for an event that will feature delicious local food, a COOPERATIVE DINING AREA, craft beer, wine, live music, and a family friendly Kid’s Zone.

It has always been our vision to create a locally focused event to draw attention to the up and coming neighborhood of Scott’s Addition. As the Co-op grows we feel as though this was a unique opportunity to be integral participants in its transition from an underutilized industrial zone to a vibrant community. After all, this is our future new home!

At the Boulevard Pumpkin Festival this the Richmond Food Co-op will be running the Cooperative Dining areaWhat is the Cooperative Dining area, you ask? It is one of the best opportunities to expose our mission to nearly 10,000 festival-goers. We will have a full street on North Boulevard to get out en masse and spread the Co-op Gospel. This is a MEMBERSHIP DRIVE! We are hoping to decorate each table with a Co-op table top, get as much signage as possible, and utilize our burgeoning member/owners to be at the front lines talking about the Co-op, signing up new member/owners, and discussing the importance of the Co-op as an integral part of the Scott's Addition community.

Friends, this is a call to arms! We need you to fully take advantage of this opportunity by signing up with our Volunteer Coordinator Katherine Hill, katherinescotthill@gmail.com. I promise a great time with friends new and old, delicious Pumpkin food, and a membership drive to remember! 

Kindest Regards,

-Andrew LaBonte (Member/Owner)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Join Us: 1st Annual Richmond Food Co-op Member Meeting

We are so excited to be holding our first member/owner annual meeting tonight and hope to see you there!

When: Tonight — Monday October 7th, 2013 from 6:00-7:30
Where: Feedmore 1415 Rhoadmiller Street Richmond, Virginia 23220 Directions — HERE

We are looking forward to recapping just how far we have come since starting our membership drive back in February. We've had some exciting happy hours, potlucks, community forums and our first annual picnic. Of course, we have some business to take care of too and will be electing some new board members!

To recap, the following 3 members are up for election are:

Board nominees: Julietta, Tom and Kelsey
  • Tom Karnes, professor at VCU. Learn more about Tom here.
  • Kelsey Miller, local Tax Associate and Scott's Addition resident. Learn more about Kelsey here.
  • Julietta Singh, English professor at the University of Richmond. Learn more about Julietta here.
In other exciting news, we have just been awarded with and are eager to announce a $10,000 seed grant from the Co-op Initiative, a cooperative assistance nonprofit. What does this mean and how will it help your Co-op? Find out tonight!

We also have plenty of committee signup opportunities. Are you awesome at outreach, event planning, or have you just been itching to get involved in a community garden? These are some of the avenues where we can use your help (and awesomeness). This is a great chance for you to get involved with your Co-op!

Then there is the fellowship. Fellowship is one of the main drivers of a good Co-op. What is the definition of fellowship?

Fellowship: friendly association, especially with people who share one's interests.
"They valued fun and good fellowship as the cement of the community."

So come spend some time with us tonight and meet other member/owners and share in our joint interest of community, local healthy food, and our vision for a Co-op in Richmond, Virginia. It's long overdue, don't you agree?

-Tim Vidra, Board Vice-Chair

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Growing our Leadership

The Richmond Food Co-op grows every day.  Our recognition spreads, new members sign up, and current members become more involved.  Over the past year, this venture has expanded from a living room meeting of a dozen interested participants into a community of nearly 300 member/owners.  Our earned media record, relationships with national cooperative organizations, and popular chalkboard membership campaign all tout our success.  We were also just awarded a $10,000 seed grant from the Co-op Initiative, a cooperative assistance nonprofit.

Not bad, Richmond Food Co-op.

Now we are at the point to grow our leadership core.  This month, the board expands from five to seven members, and we will add a project manager position. 

I write to speak to the excitement and importance of the implementation of a paid project manager.  We have made incredible strides as a volunteer-run start-up.  The Co-op’s marketing and planning is a consistent part of many of our lives.  And now we find ourselves with a burgeoning business on our hands, requiring daily attention and maintenance.  Our attendance (thanks to a scholarship) at the Consumer Cooperative Management Association’s conference back in June taught us how tightly formal project management and successful start-up progression are linked.

Michele Lord’s transition from Board Chair to Project Manager is natural and necessary.  She has been at the helm of the Co-op, from idea to implementation, and is currently managing all member administration and communications.  Her new role will help advance the Co-op in several critical ways:

                Increase our membership base
                Strengthen the power of our member committees
                Identify new allies and sources of support in the community
                Stay connected with the national food co-op organizations

The Co-op is growing and growing up.  We celebrate this benchmark of our first hire as a sign of progress and commitment to opening this business as soon as possible.  We are on our way!

-Susan Hill, Board Chair