I had the great pleasure of staffing a table at the Dickinson Square Park Farmer’s Market yesterday morning on what started as a hot, close, humid morning; transitioned into a partly sunny, breezy day; and ended with a fighter jet flying so low overhead I could practically read the pilot’s driver’s license. (Anyone in Pennsport at the time knows what I’m talking about!)
With me at the table was Matt, a new co-op volunteer and soon to be new homeowner over in the Newbold neighborhood (which, he said with a smile, is called Point Breeze by people who hear what his address is). We had plenty of folks stop by the table and answer my opening question of “Have you heard of the South Philly Food Co-op?” with various levels of recognition from “Of course and I’m sending my check for member-ownership soon” to “We’re in South Philly?” (just kidding). Matt is making the move with his girlfriend down from Weaver’s Way territory in Mt. Airy to South Philly. As we were talking with a passerby I introduced Matt as a soon-to-be South Philadelphian and he said that one of the factors in figuring out where to move was the fact that there will soon be a food co-op in the area. He loves being a member and shopping at Weaver’s Way and was thrilled to hear about our efforts to open a cooperatively owned grocery store in South Philly.
I was floored.
Now there’s somebody who is taking a much bigger leap of faith than I am. My household only had to put down $200 on this yet-to-open co-op while he’s putting down roots in the neighborhood and purchasing a house, in part, because of it.
Granted, there were plenty of other factors in the decision making but the fact that a co-op will be opening soon made the decision that much easier. Hearing that just made my day and kept making my day even as the Eagles were coughing up a late-game lead and Antonio Bastardo continued to pitch like… well… me.
Just imagine a near future in which neighbors and friends are pitching the attractiveness of their neighborhood and including “and there’s a food co-op” as one of the positives. Realtors will start including the bullet point “- easy access to the South Philly Food Co-op.” And open houses will include food trays prepared “by the community” at the South Philly Food Co-op. The shops and restaurants along E. Passyunk Avenue, the Water Department’s streetscape improvements on 13th Street, the improving test scores and education at the neighborhood schools and the beautiful work being done at the neighborhood’s various parks and playgrounds are all making South Philly a great, hot place to be for the long term. The co-op, by strengthening the community even more, can play a big part in that progress as well.
Several other people who stopped by the table picked up member-owner applications, many of whom I have a pretty good feeling about in terms of how likely they are to follow through and join up. And Matt took another leap yesterday by becoming member-owner #96. That’s 11 new members since just last week when we started our drive to 250, the number we’ll need so we can start the process of looking for a location.
Why don’t you jump in too? After all, presumably you already in live in South Philly so you don’t need to buy a house. All you have to do is fill out a member-owner application and make the first payment toward your $200 member-owner equity. You’ll become one o our 250 Founding Members and help to make the future of South Philadelphia happen. (And, hey, no matter where you are, if you want to move to South Philly and become a member… we say “Welcome to the neighborhood!”… but you better hurry!)