Monday’s Finance Committee meeting debated the merits of funding Share Cooperative. Share is a co-op that is in the initial stages of organizing and planning a co-op. Share intends to build a co-op just down the street from Green Street Methodist, on Peters Creek Parkway and Academy Street, in a now-vacant store that in previous years was home to a Food Lion and most recently, a Hispanic grocery store.
Green Street Methodist is looking to play a large role in the redevelopment of Peters Creek Parkway. Assistant Pastor, Rev. Willard Bass is one of the leaders of Share. They are seeking $21,800 for a co-op feasibility study.
But as Councilwoman Adams pointed out, the Peters Creek Initiative-another group closely associated with Green Street Methodist recently received city council approval for a study examining the redevelopment of the motel and vacant car lot on the opposite side of the street Peters Creek Parkway.
Gary Williams of Share Cooperative, spoke of the need for co-ops and the need to address and eliminate Food Desserts in Winston. Councilmember Adams pointed out that Winston currently has a patchwork of food banks and non-profits in Winston. The city council recently agreed to fund Goler’s hydroponics project, in part to deal with the issue of Food Desserts.
Share requested community agency funding from the city last year. Their request was rejected at the time. Share is still trying to get off the ground. Councilmember Montgomery and Adams voiced support for a potential co-op. But Share is going to have an uphill battle convincing the City Council about the viability of co-ops. Councilmember Clark, the city council’s lone Republican stated his belief that grocers should run grocery stores.
I’m sold on the viability of co-ops. The city would have to provide seed money to get a co-op off the ground. But after a few years, a co-op should be able to stand on its own. Co-op provides jobs and community empowerment. I’d much rather see the city and county fund a co-op instead of wasting tens of millions of dollars on Herbalife and Caterpillar.
The particular location of Share Co-op on Peters Creek is the only thing that gives me pause. With Compare Foods a short drive or bus ride away and a grocery store proposed adjacent to BB&T Ballpark, why should the city fund a co-op at Peters Creek?
If Share wants to open a co-op they should follow the Deep Roots model and not Renaissance Co-op. They need to get folks in West Salem to fund their own co-op. It might take years for the neighborhood to fund its own co-0p, but the process of neighbors organizing and investing in their own community would ultimately strengthen community bonds. It’s an effort worth undertaking.