Greetings Karma Owners!
It was exactly a year ago this month that I first discovered a hidden gem, our amazing little food store.
I came to Karma initially, after watching videos by YouTuber, Fully Raw Kristina, on my quest to test out a raw vegan diet (diet result, #fail). In one video, Kristina takes a trip to her local food co-op, and I immediately wondered, “Why don’t I shop in a food co-op?” You see, I live in a co-op, and as such, I already shared the values which are innate to the fabric of many co-ops: community, responsibility, democracy, connection, co-operation. In just over a month, I attended an introductory orientation, joined as a member, ran for the board, attended my first AGM, and was elected. In just one short year I have learned so much about Karma — certainly more than I’d ever anticipated! And, I’m finally beginning to feel like I have a sense of what’s going on.
Let’s start with some of thing things that happened in July — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I’ll first clear up the bad, and the ugly. The bad news is that the store suffered two floods in the month of July, in addition to one in May. Our staff, and in particular our general manager, Talia, have been phenomenal and working tirelessly to minimize the impact of this. A huge thanks for all of your extra efforts! It seems some considerable repairs will be needed (that’s the ugly). The Building Committee have been working together with Talia to research our options. We will update members at our upcoming AGM on what work was done, and what costs were incurred. Please be patient, as there will be repairs underway this month.
The good (great!) this month was our visit from Jon Steinman — member-owner and former board member of Canada’s largest food co-op, The Kootenay Co-op in British Columbia, producer and host of the Deconstructing Dinner podcast, and author of Grocery Story: The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants. Jon gave a great talk to approximately 60 people, where he shared the importance of food stores like ours. Food, as Jon reminded us, is a basic human necessity. We all inherently know this to be true, and, where we live, we are lucky enough to be able to easily forget and even take our access to food for granted. And yet, as basic a need as food is, most Canadians (roughly 81%) purchase their groceries from one of the top five Canadian grocers, who provide little to no information about where the food comes from, what went into its production, or who produced it. Consumers also have no control or influence over the food system — the grocers primarily dictate the producer’s standards and price and shape the competitive landscape, leaving small producers virtually unable to compete. One of the greatest benefits (joys?) of being a member of Karma, is that we too are owners of our co-op, and we can access food that has been vetted to ensure that our products meet the standards of our members, our producers receive equitable compensation for the products they supply, and smaller producers have a market for their products. To learn more, pick up a copy of Jon’s book next time you’re in the store. You can also follow Jon on Twitter (@Grocery_Story) or Instagram (@jonsteinman_grocerystory).
On the horizon we have our next Annual General Meeting and election of new members to our board of directors. As owners of our co-op, it is vital that we attend to not only ensure a future for our co-op, but also to help shape it. I understand that our meetings usually fall on the first Monday following Thanksgiving weekend; however, since that is the date of our upcoming federal election, the date, and possibly the venue, will have to be shifted slightly this year. Please keep an eye out for a Save The Date coming soon announcing more details of this year’s meeting, and plan to attend. I am also putting a call out to you now to please consider running for a spot on the board. Currently, we are functioning with a board which is about half the size of what would be considered ideal. As you can imagine, this makes it challenging to truly thrive as an organization. Our board, our committees, our manager, our staff, and I’m sure many of you have amazing ideas to make Karma even better — but we can’t do it without you. I would ask you to think about what the future of Karma means to you, and if it’s in your heart to do so, please consider joining us next year so that we can continue to enjoy our special gem.
Wishing you all the very best as you soak up these beautiful days of summer.
Kristy van Beek