Featured Co-op Cafe Video: Co-ops as Public Service Providers

Many people visit a food co-op on a daily basis, not just to meet their needs for groceries, but to get information or be more engaged in their communities. Likewise, hundreds upon thousands of people also use public libraries with a high degree of participation. John Sheller, a trustee at PCC Natural Markets in Seattle, Wash. and manger of the King County Library System, has his feet in both worlds. He sees a strong link between both entities. Cooperatives and libraries offer valuable public services in communities because they often strive to share resources, offer things people need, and engage citizens and owners in important questions of the day. In the best of both worlds, Sheller said, “We make it possible for people to participate when and where they are comfortable.”

He cited as an example how the King County Library System launched a city-wide conversation about hunger in local communities. They did this online and in-person and were able to engage high numbers of people on the question—whether or not they had visited the library in person. “We were able to provide input and community thought to the city in a way they could not gather on their own,” Sheller said. Similarly, PCC Natural Markets was part of the initiative to bring mandatory GMO labeling to Washington State (which was voted down). “Our decision to do it was to offer more people the opportunity to participate…so that more people could learn about GMO issues and have a larger discussion. PCC members felt like this was a real service to them.” Sheller said, “It’s one way we can serve the community further.”

Watch the video here. (08:32 minutes)

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By |January 4th, 2015|Categories: Connections|Tags: |

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