One Year Old! Happy Birthday Camas Food Co-op!

We’ve made in one year! It’s been a lot of hard work and there have been some super hardworking hero’s!

Happy Birthday to us, to our food Co-op and happy birthday to making a stronger, happier and healthier Camas Community!

Come celebrate with us at the First Camas Farmer’s Market of the season!! You can purchase your member-ownership!!! So be the first or the tenth or just be a proud member-owner of a one year old community owned and controlled business that will grow in our community vision, meet our needs and respond to our concerns of access to healthy, local natural foods. YOU OWN IT! And starting this Wednesday, that’ll be very true!!

We’ll also be painting Rain Collection Barrels at the Farmer’s Market. So come on by and add your artwork to the collection. You’ll also get a chance to learn a little about how Rain Collecting can help make our community  more food secure!

Our Community Pantry is almost done! This is super exciting. We’ve been working on making this vision a reality for 3 long months and soon it’ll be open for business, of sorts. As the name hints at, this will not be an actual Co-op grocery store. We, as member-owners of the co-op, will be allowing the co-op to store our CSA’s and Buying Club purchases at our Pantry location where most drops already occur. Then you’ll get to come by at a much more convenient time to pick up your purchases. Think of it as online shopping for Costco, only you get to support your local economy and community by buying bulk from local farmers and from earth and human friendly producers! And there are no lines!! How exciting is that?!? It should cut down on the time you spend shopping that’s for sure! That’ll mean more time with your family, cooking good wholesome foods to eat together (or at least at the co-op potluck)!!

Well, I’ll see you all at the Farmer’s Market!

In Cooperation,

Michelle Week

Happy Earth Day!!

Our last meeting had a near record high attendance of 9 attendees. Let’s Keep it Up! We had really great discussions resulting in some very creative solutions. I would have never come up with them on my own! Everyone had some awesome Ideas!! Thank you Jon for recommending latex cement paint for the pantry!! We just finished painting the cement floor a nice light grey, it’s drying as of publishing this post. I also want to take this time to say Thank you to Dorthy for being a superhero volunteer- all our walls are now painted! And thank’s to Tom Mercil for helping me scrub the floors in prep of painting them. Each small or large effort a person puts into this co-op the closer we are to having a real, thriving, community grocery store!!

It’s EARTH DAY and it’s a wonderful day to go out, enjoy the sunshine and do something wonderful and be thankful for this big pile of dirt we all depend on, our EARTH. My day has been spent working hard for the Co-op, I hope many of you have been able to get out and start planting your gardens or show your appreciation in any other form you may choose. Might I recommend Yoga in the park?

We’ve updated the right sidebar of the website so that you can see the upcoming events! I’ll be giving a speech at the Clark Community College’s Sustainable Foods & CSA fair along side Inspiration Plantation Farm and Dee Creek Farms and Warren Neth from Urban Abundance.  Come say hi, meet some farmer’s and listen to our presentations. If you can’t or miss it, I’ll try to record and post it online.

Have a wonderful day!

Michelle M. Week

Community Survival: Co-ops are the Cure

For those who’ve attended just about every meeting this may not be a surprise to you.

We have a numbers problem, only a few 5 ish people regularly come to meetings and potlucks. Actually the last meeting only had two regulars, and the last potluck only had two attendees, one of those two people was me, Michelle M. Week. This is very unfortunant. I can’t make something for the community without the community being intimately involved. I don’t want to scold people, but I do want to SOUND THE ALARM with these very low attendance rates. A community owned, self help organization such as the Food  Co-op I am trying to help build in the  Camas Community cannot be done if the community members don’t want to help themselves realize community ownership of a grocery store.

Do you really like the idea of a food co-op? Are you tired of corporations taking our money and running away with it? Do you really want to support local? The message I am getting is you don’t care, you don’t want this. I know it’s not true and I know we all have busy lives with kids, pets, houses, work. Don’t get me wrong the economic times are indeed very rough. I just had a tooth break and it cost me $1,000 to fix it. That’s all my saving I was able to save over the last year working for $8.50 an hour at a coffee shop that will only give me 20 to 25 hours a week because any more hours would mean they would have to offer me health coverage. I don’t have kids, but I sure know what it’s like to live on the edge pay check to pay check.

Regardless of my sad story, I believe in the healing powers of Co-ops. You own them, their transparent and the money they make is invested right back into our community and our own pockets! Imagine that! Even in 1844 when  the first successful model of the modern day co-op was envisioned and made into a reality it took years of penny saving for the Rochdale pioneers to afford to open a store. But they knew the cost of everything, they agreed that this model of collective owning the grocery store would insure them affordable, consistent, quality access to the foods they wanted. This was a big dream given that the big companies of those days were known to add crushed bone into flour, hence white flour. Is that any different than our struggles today?

Today we have to fight Monsanto and big bank bail outs!! They are dousing all our foods with poisons.  They abuse farmer workers and they put the small farmer (our neighbors!) out of business. And for what? So that they can feed the world GMO’s that no one knows if they are safe to eat? Are you outraged yet?! I am, and I want to help communities all over the world! But we gatta start small in our own communities, and so  I have a soft spot for little Camas  Wa. I want to see Camas get behind and fight for what’s right!! The best way to get out of this economic disparity is to reinvest as much of our own money back into each other. That’s how we make a strong economy and we’ll be well feed to boot with a community owned grocery store!!  The corporations only care about the bottom line: PROFIT. Once we don’t make them profit they move out. For grocery stores that’s a thin margin, and many of them pulled out of Detroit, making that city the biggest food desert in the United States. It’s hard to imagine now, but with oil prices on the rise that means the cost of conventional grown food (using oil for fertilizers, pesticides, transportation) will rise and it could rise so much so that they’ll stop delivering food to Safeway. Then Camas will join the rise many small communities who don’t have grocery stores. Don’t be valued based on your ability to make a company a profit, Co-ops put people first, we value your input, your needs and your wants.

We can save ourselves from this danger by supporting and getting behind the Food Co-op. But you’ll have to mark down a date once a month and make it a priority. I’m happy to do the majority work since I have the time and passion. But I can’t do the work of a whole community alone. I need your help. Take control, don’t let the corporations turn you into a slave,  join the co-op movement today!

Next meeting:

April 18th 2011

1004 ne 4th ave Camas Wa 98607


February Polls

It’s Your Co-op! Let us know what you think!!

A big year ahead of us!

Hello amazing Co-op supporters. For Thanksgiving I was grateful for you, and for this gift giving season I couldn’t want anything more than a wonderful supportive group that now makes up our Board of Directors.

Cooperatives aren’t something you can just pour money into and make happen like you can with other small business’. Cooperatives are more like dreams, you need warmth, determination, support and an amazing community to help with that “barn raising” as it might be called by some. The success and establishment of this Food Co-op in Camas is as much your efforts as it is our more dedicated and involved members that now make up the Board.

Thank you for your gift of support and I’d like to highlight some of the achievements your support has helped make happen!!

First off, if there weren’t so many people rallying behind the Co-op we would not have our temporary founding Board of Directors willing to put in so much time and effort for their community. These dedicated individuals will be laying the foundation for the actual incorporation of this Co-op and see it through the obstacles of becoming a viable community center and financial institution. Their names are Paula Clark, Michelle Week, Terri Sauer, Trevor Becker, Jazmin Grazul, Rosie Platt, Minda Coombs and the generous London Family. There will be a new tab shortly that’ll have faces to go with the names and the positions in which they now hold within the Co-op.

Now for some news that may seem benign. We are one of only a few Food Cooperatives who are actively banking with another Cooperative institution, LaCamas Credit Union! This is such a simple matter yet a very hard one for many Cooperatives to achieve since most Credit Unions are not equipped to handle such small or medium business’ like ourselves. We should all be very proud in upholding one of the seven priniples of Cooperatives, Cooperation among Cooperatives!! The road blocks that other Co-ops have encounter in achieving this simple step is a current and ongoing conversation in the Cooperative world. I hope that our Co-op will shed some light with our experiences and help pave a new road.

The Azure Standard Buying Club has seen a huge success in more purchases and activity! Thank you!! And if you aren’t familiar with or need help setting up a Buying Account, come to our next Community Building Potluck! Saturday jan 15th at 5:30 Because the Buying Club has been doing so well, and thanks to the generosity of Camas Friends Church it is looking like we’ll be able to start some small renovation work in one of the Church home basements. In the basement we hope to have the Azure food dropped and stored on or in refrigerator(s), freezer and shelving. We would then have a few days a week for a few hours where this “store” would be open and Buying club members can pick up their purchases at a more convent time. We hope to have many hands in helping this become a reality and are hoping that more people would be willing to purchase through Azure due to the convince. Purchasing through Azure does two things for the Co-op, it helps us see how many committed patrons and possible members we have already active in our community and it helps raise money for the Co-ops capital finance’s needed to open the actual grocery store.

Again, thank you all for your continued support, now that the busy Holiday months are almost over you’ll see regular updates resume. And keep updated for more future polls coming your way, this is your co-op, raise your voice!!

Michelle Week

Logo Design Poll!!

Poll Closes on November 15th. Get your vote in before that date!

To identify the photo below with the titles given in the polls, click the image to view larger and look for the title near the top of the page.

Note: These logos will undergo further modification and updating after a final design is chosen. Colors, fonts and wording may be altered before final logo is used on official Co-op paper work and advertising.

Moving Forward

Good Day Everyone!

Well, The Co-op now has a tentative steering committee. If you were thinking you’d like to be on the steering committee, you are still welcomed. The Camas Food  Cooperative holds monthly meetings every third Tuesday. See the Meeting tab for more information. Meetings are always open to the public. Tuesday 19th.

If business meetings put you to sleep, you can always join us at our monthly community potlucks. They are held every third Saturday of the month. Sometimes they have themes, sometimes they don’t, but they are always fun and there will always be plenty of food for all and for all types of food consumers. Saturday 16th.

Currently, the Cooperative is moving forward on schedule according to our outlined calendar. We developed this calendar via weeks of cooperative development research and communicating with several area cooperatives. We are now editing a business plan and beginning to read through the Co-ops by-laws and articles of cooperation. This is a very exciting step! After we complete these two tasks we can then outline Co-op membership, Introduce Business in Cooperation, and open a tiny ‘store front’ where the CSA & Buying Club drops can occur and be stored for a more convenient pick-up for our members!

I know that this seems to take much longer time to start up than conventional for profit, privately owned businesses. We are building a community owned grocery store where all are welcomed and all have stronger and better food security. Where all people have access to local, organic, sustainable and conscious food choices for reasonable prices. When the Food Co-op is established, we will be known legally as a not-for profit. That means we are a business apposed to a charity or organization, but that our bottom line isn’t the money like most businesses, our bottom line will be and is our members!

I look forward to seeing many people at the Potluck!

Michelle  Week