Father Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta, who was instrumental in founding the Mondragon co-op system in Spain in the 1940s, said that “we build the roads we travel.” That’s an excellent summation of how co-ops fulfill an unmet need. Often there is no predestined roadmap, and both the act of working with others to build those inroads in communities and markets, and the creation of them are what contribute to vital cooperatives that serve many people.
For groups engaged in food co-op startup work around the country, they too are building the roads they travel. Many of these groups are in communities where the cooperative idea is new and their work is to share the vision for a people-first business that can meet their needs. Not an easy job, but extremely rewarding, and a legacy for the next generation.
One of the most exciting developments in our sector is happening in Alaska. The food co-op idea is taking hold in Fairbanks and Juneau, and these groups have plans to not only deliver good food to their communities, but to help build a sustainable food system in a place where one is sorely lacking. The dedication of the people involved in these projects is an inspiration to every one of us who have had the good fortune to be working with them. We are pleased to assist all would-be road-builders and help them on their journey to greater cooperation.