On Saturday, March 10th, please join Mariposa Food Co-op for our Board and Officer Elections, Membership Meeting, and Potluck Lunch.
The lunch and meeting will be held at Calvary Center on Baltimore Avenue and 48th Street.
The pre-meeting Potluck Lunch is from 12-1 pm, and the Membership Meeting, including elections, is from 1-3 pm. Child care will be provided.
This is your opportunity to determine who will be on your co-op’s board of delegates, including the co-op’s convener, secretary, treasurer, and delegates representing committees and the membership at-large. Although many major decisions are made by our whole membership, the board is also responsible for enacting membership and shopping policies that affect you.
A number of candidates have written statements about their backgrounds and goals. The names of these candidates are links you can click on to read their statements. We’ll add statements as they come in, so check back!
Committee nominees are ranked by preference of the relevant committee. The staff collective has yet to nominate delegates.
Food Justice and Anti-Racism
Education and Training
Shari Berger Kulanu
Sarah Szymanski and Mica Navarro-Lopez, convener and co-convener nominees
What experience would make you a good convener? Szymanski is currently the Member Accountability Team delegate, and has worked in the co-op as a cashier. Szymanski served on the board and finance committee of the student housing Inter-Cooperative Council in Ann Arbor, and has attended a board training hosted by Weaver’s Way, as well as multiple NASCO conferences in the past.
Mica is a current at-large board delegate, and has been a storekeeper, note-taker, member of FJAR, and the fundraising committee. Mica participates in the WePAC (non-profit that opens school libraries) board meetings and strategy sessions as a staff member.
What do you hope to accomplish as convener? Some major goals that we would like to focus on in the coming year include:
- Greater community awareness of and engagement with the co-op, including communities of color and communities of immigrant experience.
- Improving inclusivity all around, creating opportunities for participation and collaboration, skill and leadership development in working groups, committees, on the board and outside our formal membership boundaries by partnering with community organizations.
- Continue to build a strong relationship and collaboration between the staff and board. And create an intentional framework for personnel policies and ways to support staff as the co-op becomes a larger employer in the neighborhood.
- Make a priority of food justice advocacy, and grow participation with the Food Justice and Anti-Racism committee.
- We would like to spend time on long-term planning for the co-op, examining priorities/values and investing resources in those areas.
- Improving communication between the board and the membership, as well as between all the various projects members are working on, and improving documentation and continuity over time.
Why is Mariposa important to you? Mariposa is owned by its members. Unlike so many institutions that I interact with on a daily basis, the co-op is a place where we, as a community, can determine how we want to use the amazing resources we have and how to best meet our needs. As the co-op grows, our resources and potential are growing. As a large community organization, this self-determination can be very powerful, but only if we are completely (and actively) inclusive and invite everyone into the democratic process. Food is an incredibly important part of daily life, and it is important to me that everyone is able to access fresh, healthy, culturally-appropriate, non-toxic food.
Genevieve Tung, secretary nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good secretary? I joined the co-op in the fall of 2011, not long after I moved to West Philadelphia from New York. Although I have been a member for only a short time, I’ve had the opportunity to be present for multiple meetings of the board of delegates. Since November 2011, I’ve acted as “scribe” for these meetings and taken notes under the direction of the current Secretary. I read minutes from other meetings to get informed about Mariposa goings-on and strive to record accurate and useful information.
What other experience would make you a good secretary? I do not have prior experience as a board member of any organization. I am, however, an advisor to the board of a small charitable foundation operated by several members of my family (focusing on funding post-doctoral fellows in biomedical research and supporting science education). Becoming a member of Mariposa has been my first formal foray into organized cooperative organization and food justice work, although I have long strived to live in a mindful and environmentally conscious way.
Why is Mariposa important to you? I joined Mariposa because I wanted to support and benefit from having high-quality, responsibly-sourced and reasonably-priced food available in my neighborhood. I also wanted to become part of a like-minded community and build friendships and connections with my neighbors. By shopping at Mariposa and encouraging my friends to join, I hope to sustain what I feel is an irreplaceable part of our local economy. I am very excited about the new store and its potential to increase the food options for everyone in West Philadelphia. I hope that Mariposa continues to become ever-more welcoming and rooted in the community–thriving as a business and as a symbol of cooperative values.
What do you hope to accomplish as secretary? My background is in information science; as secretary I would hope to ensure that all members have clear, easy-to-understand and easy-to-find information about what is going on in their co-op, available when and how they want it. I’d like to continue the tradition of transparency and web-friendliness that I’ve encountered as a member.
Ben Jordan, treasurer nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good treasurer? I joined Mariposa last year and have just completed my first year as Treasurer. I believe I had a successful year in this role and am looking forward to continue. We focused on a few key tasks including improving the boards understanding of our finances, providing the finance manager with improved excel modeling tools to manage the expansion and ongoing expansion planning, drafting the coops first financial policies, creating stable and well attended finance committee meetings and improving the budget review with the membership. We made improvements in all areas, but there is still work to be done around financial education and the finance policies as well as setting some new goals.
What other experience would make you a good treasurer? I am currently a marketing analytics manager for Burt’s Bees and bring 10 years business strategy and data modeling experience to help the finance manager and board make more informed decisions. While not an accountant, I have a good working knowledge financial tools and participates in the Weavers Way coop board training this past year.
Why is Mariposa important to you? Understanding the source of food and controlling its quality is crucial to a healthy life and community. I’m thrilled to have the coop here and be a part of providing for our neighborhood.
What do you hope to accomplish as treasurer? I’d like to continue to improve our financial planning capabilities and make sure the expansion is a continued success.
Molly Roth, facilities delegate nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good delegate? I have been involved in helping raise money for and advising on the expansion and signing up new members for almost two years. Most recently I have been serving on the Finance Committee. We first joined the coop in 2005.
What other experience would make you a good delegate? I have extensive management and governance experience with nonprofit organizations (which are different in some important ways from coops but share some issues). I have also served on several boards of directors, including—currently—that of Fair Food.
Why is Mariposa important to you? It is very important to me that there be a place to get real food and sustainable household products in my neighborhood. The fact that it’s also a cooperative and the focus for a community and an institution that can help underpin a sustainable local business community is like a winning the jackpot.
What do you hope to accomplish as a delegate? In the short term, I hope to be able to help the new store operate smoothly. In the longer term, I hope to be able to help in thinking about the future of the co-op and what it should do with the tremendous growth I think the new store will bring.
Clare Hyre, food justice and anti-racism delegate nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good delegate? Immediately after moving to West Philadelphia I joined Mariposa and I have been a member since 2011. After a few times of doing an in store work shift I joined FJAR (Food Justice and Anti-Racism) working group and have attended meetings monthly ever since. I also do various things beyond attending FJAR meetings , including attending events outside of Mariposa that focus on food justice and anti- racism. Likewise , I worked with Esteban Kelly to facilitate the process of having youth membership as a part of the co-op. Beginning this fall I joined the board as the replacement FJAR board delegate and enjoyed being part of the board so much I wanted to re-run for FJAR board representative this spring. I have attended several board meetings and stayed up to date on any meetings I have missed.
What other experience would make you a good delegate? I have been a member of Weavers Way Co-op in Mt. Airy since 2011 and run the farm education programs through the Weavers Way Community Programs at W.B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences. I work with around 140 students a week teaching basic farming principles, nutrition and healthy living, and business management skills. I work closely with citywide farm education and nutrition programs and in 2011 I ran farmers markets throughout the city for the Food Trust. I graduated from Guilford College in 2008 with a degree in Peace Studies, Religious Studies, and minor in Quaker studies. I believe my experience in youth education, food advocacy and work with FJAR will be all be useful to Mariposa Board of Delegates.
Why is Mariposa important to you? I joined Mariposa initially because of it’s proximity to my home and the because it created an opportunity to enjoy fresh food in the city. After attending a Mariposa orientation and attending FJAR meetings I realized that I also joined Mariposa for it’s cooperative principles and for it’s initiative to be more than just a food store. What is most important to Mariposa to me is it’s ability to provide people’s basic food needs at a reasonable price while engage itself and the community in conversations about food justice, youth, and anti-oppression work. As it expands I believe Mariposa continues to need to engage in anti-oppression training and workshops, practice diversity, and focus on growth in a sustainable way. I believe it can do this while remaining a safe space for a variety of customers and retaining a sense of community.
What do you hope to accomplish as a delegate? As a delegate I hope to represent the FJAR working group and make decisions and suggestions to the board based upon FJAR’s beliefs of what will benefit Mariposa, especially around anti-oppression and food justice. I plan to engage board members in a variety of conversations about race, class, gender, etc. and to encourage on going sessions/trainings which increase our capacity to learn, process, and grow around these issues. I plan to act as a reminder to Mariposa of our commitment to social justice as we grow as a larger center for food distribution. I will continue to work the FJAR committee and Esteban Kelly to enable youth to join our co-op, as well as update the board and the membership about educational events in the community and at Mariposa that relate to food justice and anti-oppression work.
Emily Gunther, member accountability delegate nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good delegate? I have been a member of Mariposa since I moved to the neighborhood three years ago. Since I started, I’ve had a lot of different workshifts, including Storekeeper, Cashier, Fundraising Committee and am currently a member of the Membership Accountability Team (MAT). Having worked many different shifts, I’m very familiar with the different ways that members are involved and have also seen a lot of the day-to-day operations at the store as well as the behind-the-scenes work that goes on. Mariposa was one of the reasons I moved to and have stayed in this neighborhood and I can’t imagine life in Philly without it.
What other experience would make you a good delegate? I have spent the last four years working for Fair Food, a non-profit organization here in Philly that promotes humane, sustainable, local agriculture and helps foster the wholesale connections between local farmers and buyers in our region (like Mariposa). I have worked on almost every aspect of running our business, the Fair Food Farmstand, located in the Reading Terminal Market, from purchasing directly from over 90 local farmers and distributors, to trouble-shooting equipment failure, to staffing, to bill paying and financial reporting. I have also consulted with many chefs and buyers to get them connected with local farms. I have great relationships with many of our regions farmers and a strong knowledge of and respect for our region’s agricultural production. Having spent many days stocking shelves, managing inventory, helping customers, and creating and implementing policies, I understand the nuances of running a small food business in Philadelphia. Additionally, I enjoy getting a little dirt under my fingernails – either from soil, spreadsheets or condensors- and I’ve spent time volunteering on farms in the US, and abroad. I have a tiny plot in the Woodlands Community Garden and am ServSafe certified.
Why is Mariposa important to you? Access to fresh, affordable and culturally appropriate food is necessary not just for our physical health, but for the mental and emotional health of our selves and our community. Everybody eats and everybody has their own food culture and history. Given the choice, I prefer to shop at an independent, cooperatively run store, where everyone has a voice and where decisions are made not by a corporation but by the people who are affected by and genuinely interested in the outcome. Mariposa is not just a store, it is a community.
This time of transition is an incredible opportunity to improve the store and open its doors completely to the neighborhood. I look forward to all of the opportunities that a larger store will bring to Mariposa, such as: non-working membership, a wider selection of items (including more bulk items), and especially a wider selection of local meats and cheeses! There is some incredible meat and dairy that is being produced in our region and I want to be able to buy it at Mariposa.
What do you hope to accomplish as a delegate? As the delegate from MAT (the Membership Accountability Team), I hope to represent MAT accurately and honestly, and vice versa. As a member of the Board, I would also want to look out for the staff of Mariposa. They have been working tirelessly on the expansion and its important for any business to appreciate its staff so we don’t lose them! I would also like to work on shaping policies that will help the store and its membership run smoothly, respectfully, and sustainably!
Irit Reinheimer, education delegate nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good delegate? I have been a member of Mariposa for over seven years and active in committee work for over five. I started out working in-store shifts as a opener and store keeper, and later decided to join the Orientation Working Group and the Education Committee. I was involved early on when Mariposa started fundraising for the expansion and helped organize one of the first fundraising events. As an orientation leader, I have worked on revamping the member handbook as well as rethinking orientations in light of the expansion. I currently act as the liaison between the Membership Coordinator and the orientation leaders. This position involves convening the Orientation Working Group’s quarterly meeting, relaying new information from staff to the working group, and training new orientation leaders. I’m already part of a close-knit and committed group of members who are working to ensure that new members feel welcomed, empowered, and informed; I think working with the Board of Delegates would be a natural extension of this work.
What other experience would make you a good delegate? I have been involved in a variety of social justice organizations for over 15 years (feminist, anti-racist, queer justice, labor justice, anti-globalization, anti-gentrification and media justice). Many of these organizations had collective or non-hierarchical structures and used consensus decision making. I have experience facilitating meetings, workshops, and groups. I am also versed in media production and currently work in communications at a local arts organization.
Why is Mariposa important to you? I am concerned with food justice, particularly how food is grown and the connection to labor justice, and it’s important to me that Mariposa makes some of its buying decisions with these concerns in mind. Another thing that makes Mariposa important to me is our attempt to maintain an alternative business structure through our commitment to community ownership of the store and direct democracy within our governance. Being a member over the past seven years, my connection to the Co-op as a community has strengthened and my relationships with other members are very important to me and my life in Philly.
As a delegate, I would be interested in improving communication between the Board and the membership and looking at how we can further involve and educate Co-op members and the surrounding community. I believe highlighting ideas about the importance of local economy, direct democracy, community ownership vs. corporate ownership, and how crucial it is to support local/cooperative businesses as part of sustainability would be one way to fulfill Mariposa’s mission. I would also be excited to find ways for more/new members to get more deeply involved in the Co-op.
In this transitional period, I think it is important for Mariposa to reaffirm our commitment to social justice, and I would like to work on integrating our social justice values into more of our practices. I want to make sure we maintain a connection to our roots while also not being afraid of change. I would also like to ensure that we maintain our horizontal staff structure even as we expand the staff because I think it is important for us to model this as a sustainable alternative.
What do you hope to accomplish as a delegate? As a delegate from the education committee, my role would be to focus on the educational component of our policies and decisions and think about how we communicate/teach new information to the membership. I am excited to work collaboratively with the rest of the Board to push for positive growth within the Co-op, and look forward to contributing to the further growth and shaping of our Board as well. I am also committed to ensuring that all the sub-committees of the Education Committee are kept up to date with Board discussions and decisions and that insight/thoughts/concerns from the committees are relayed back to the Board.
Ari Rosenberg, at-large delegate nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good delegate? I’m a recent transplant to Philadelphia. I joined Mariposa this past December and have been lucky enough to have time to help a little bit with getting the new store ready.
What other experience would make you a good delegate? I co-founded a housing cooperative with three friends in Maine. I served as a co-financial officer with that co-op for four years and still support them when needed. I have been learning how to grow and produce food for the past ten years working on family farms in Virginia, Maine, and Nepal. I also managed five urban gardens and ran children & youth programs for over five years at Lots to Gardens, an organization committed to creating a just, sustainable food system in Lewiston, Maine. I’ve served on the board of a few non-profits in Maine as well as City committees and taskforces. I have a lot of experience with consensus models, grant writing, growing, preparing and eating food, and developing creative programs. I love spreadsheets and am very organized.
Why is Mariposa important to you? I joined Mariposa because I believe the cooperative model is an important structure to support community and defend ourselves against capitalism and unbound profit growths. I believe that a shared ownership structure is important because it puts power into the hands of the people who utilize the services. Beyond it’s value as a cooperative, Mariposa is important to me because without it I would not be able to acquire regionally produced foods in my neighborhood.
What do you hope to accomplish as a delegate? As a delegate on the Mariposa board I plan to help support initiatives to make Mariposa more accessible for people of low-income and people of color. I look forward to working with other delegates to come up with cost saving techniques that will encourage low-prices in the store while paying staff a living wage. As the membership grows I believe we can come up with creative ways of using workshifts to develop value added products and grow food that will later be sold in the store – utilizing more skills of our member base. I look forward to getting to know other members and listening to their hopes for Mariposa as we move forward together.
Bryan Green, at-large delegate nominee
My name is Bryan Green, I’m an independent filmmaker. I work at Scribe Video Center, a community-oriented non-profit video production office in West Philly. While I have lived and have been an active member of the West Philly community for nearly a decade now, I am an INCREDIBLY new member to Mariposa. I joined the co-op in fall of last year as a working member. My workshifts have been exclusively in the old store [re-stocking, inventory, ext...].
To be perfectly frank, the food justice movement is something I am also relatively new to. Only in recent years have I come to realize the importance locally-grown food and sustainably produced products. And it was only this past summer when I discovered that Mariposa even existed.
I think I would make an excellent addition to the board because I know, with the recent expansion and outreach initiatives, that Mariposa is acquiring more and more members who are just like me. Brand spanking new to the entire concept of food justice, but eager to learn and ready to get involved. In addition to that, I know that there are many like me who have lived in the West Philly Community for years but still have yet to discover Mariposa. Now that the movement into the larger retail space is nearly complete, further outreach into the immediate surrounding neighborhood would be a focal point for me as a board member.
As a filmmaker and freelancing artist, I don’t have the time to make food justice a career. But I definitely acknowledge the importance. I feel like there are many new members and potential members like me, and I would like to be a voice for them.
Ed Avery-Natale, at-large delegate nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good delegate? I have been a working Mariposa since 2005. During that time, I have done the opening shift, been a member of FJAR (and was one of FJAR’s earliest members), and most recently have been doing a storekeeper shift. These varied experiences have led to have a fairly strong understanding of various elements within the store.
What other experience would make you a good delegate? I have just recently (as of last month) resigned as the AFT staff organizer for TUGSA, a union that represents graduate students at Temple University. This experience has given me good organizational skills, both in organizing / recruiting people and tasks, and also required that I be able to interact and work with many different groups of people toward common goals. I also served on the board of TUGSA in the past as both treasurer and co-president.
I have also been a member of The Wooden Shoe Book Store and have done some work with LAVA Zone, both of which are collectively run organizations. I also have and continue to work with Occupy Philly.
Why is Mariposa important to you? Mariposa is important to me because I believe that buying habits can represent more than just a way of acquiring the goods one needs in their day-by-day life. To me, working with a local cooperative business means supporting a form of organization that is, to me, deeply political and revolutionary. In addition, I highly value access to locally produced goods and foods as well as environmentally sound options on shelves. In regards to the latter, I would like to see Mariposa not only carry more products that emphasize environmentalism (including expanding our bulk bins), but I think we should find a way to make very clear how products are produced so that people in the store can be conscious of the environmental impact of their purchases. Similarly, I would like to see us carry a larger selection of locally produced dairy products. We already do well on this, but I think we could do better.
What do you hope to accomplish as a delegate? Obviously, we are about to move into our new store, and I suspect that delegates will have many important decisions to make as that process continues and after we are in the new store. As a delegate, I would like to ensure that the new store is accessible to everyone in our neighborhood. By this I do not only mean physically accessible to the differently-abled, but also that we are carrying products that are culturally relevant to such a diverse neighborhood, but that also maintains our goals as an institution by keeping a lot of high-quality, organic, and local precuts on the shelves.
It is also very important to me that Mariposa be as democratically structured and decentralized as is possible, while recognizing that at times achieving perfection in this regards is pragmatically impossible. With that in mind, I bring my personal politics to everything I do, though with a willingness to negotiate and compromise to meet any shared goals with others, and would always look at Mariposa through the lens of radical, anti-authoritarian, and anti-capitalist perspectives.
Kaz Uyehara, at-large delegate nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good delegate? I was born in West Philadelphia and have lived here my whole life. My family has been a member of Mariposa for as long as I can remember and I have been able to see it change over the past 20 years. My experience as a local resident and longtime member gives me some perspective on Mariposa’s potential and how it fits into the community. I have never been involved in board or membership meetings, but I am hoping to get involved now. The expansion has given us a significant opportunity to make Mariposa even better.
What other experience would make you a good delegate? I am a high school science teacher and I received a bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental studies. I currently serve as a board member of a local environmental justice organization (EQAT), the assistant scoutmaster of a local Boy Scout troop, the East Coast youth representative in a national civil rights organization (JACL), and an adviser to the development of a peace museum in Philadelphia. I am also involved in organizations within my high school, including: the diversity committee, religious life committee, and a student committee that looks at possible school reforms.
Why is Mariposa important to you? I value Mariposa because it has been my primary source for food since my childhood and it can serve an important function within the local community. I would like to expand the impact that Mariposa has on the surrounding area in terms of access to healthy food and community building.
What do you hope to accomplish as a delegate? I would like to represent the membership fairly and work towards improving Mariposa!
Kripa Dholakia, at-large delegate nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good delegate? I became a member of Mariposa in december of 2011, and last week, attended orientation. I look forward to serving as an at large delegate on the Mariposa board. I have not had direct experience at Mariposa, but have appreciated that they have partnered with community organizations such as Mill Creek Farm, where I have volunteered over the last four years. That is where I first heard of Mariposa.
What other experience would make you a good delegate? I started as a volunteer at Mill Creek farm in west Philly four years ago. In the second year, I interned at the farm, and have thereafter continued to volunteer there. During the summer of 2010, I participated in a summer certificate program in International Food Policy offered by Slow Food International. I have also been pursuing an MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution at Arcadia University, with a goal of learning about food access in refugee camps, the dynamics of food aid in war torn areas, as well as understanding post-war reconstruction as it relates to food access. I have not served on any board prior to this instance, but am interested in gaining experience in working for a non profit, such as this experience would provide me.
Why is Mariposa important to you? I believe in collective power having the capacity to steer societal voices into action. A coop, such as Mariposa demonstrates this. My choices in food and about how I live my life are of utmost important to me and becoming a member of Mariposa, is in alignment with this choice.
What do you hope to accomplish as a delegate? I would like to have the opportunity to serve as a delegate, to enhance my experience and my level of involvement with a organization which is run as a cooperative. I hope to bring a new set of ideas to the organization, to work with other delegates to support collective goals and engage with the members of the coop, as their representative.
Lauren McEwen, at-large delegate nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good delegate? I recently joined Mariposa as a working member in December 2011. As far as I understand, the March 10th membership meeting will be the first held since I became a member just after the December 10th meeting. I have read the minutes posted online for that last meeting. I am committed to a stock/bulk work-shift — currently Mondays from 2-4pm in the old location, and changing over to Week B Monday’s from 3:30-6:30pm in the new location.
What other experience would make you a good delegate? I was a member of the East End Food Co-op for two and a half years when I lived in Pittsburgh. East End offers all of the products of a full-service grocery store, and I did the bulk of my shopping there. My co-op share was divided between myself and two other housemates. It was my first experience with a cooperative food store and I loved shopping there especially because of the great bulk food section.
I am currently involved with the Pennstate Extension Master Gardeners program and am a founding member of the Bartram’s Garden Community Garden. The mission of the Penn State Master Gardener volunteer program is to support the Penn State Cooperative Extension by utilizing research-based information to educate the public on best practices in consumer horticulture and environmental stewardship. We do that by answering questions, speaking to groups, working with 4-H horticultural projects, participating in civic beautification, maintaining demonstration gardens, teaching plant sciences and horticulture. Master Gardeners educate individuals and groups in gardening topics such as plant selection, composting, vegetable and flower gardening, pruning, and food safety and preservation.
I also served on the board of the Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers for two years. The first year I served as an at-large delegate and the second year as vice president. I was the head of the Annual Exhibition Committee and the Member Directory Committee. While on the board, we underwent some major changes as a Guild including building renovation and retooling our goals and identity as an organization.
Why is Mariposa important to you? When first moving to West Philly, I was shopping at the Clark Park farmers market for all of my produce, but realized the convenience of Mariposa’s hours and location made it a vital resource. Now I can by fresh produce multiple times a week on a as needed basis–thus reducing the chances of wasteful spoilage.
I place importance on supporting local businesses and understand that having access fresh food from trusted sources is currently a rarity. Becoming a member was a key part of taking control of where my food comes from. Mariposa is a place where, as owners, our voices can be heard.
I had initially been hesitant to join because the on-shelf variety was much much smaller than I had been used to at the East End Co-op in Pittsburgh. I liked the idea of bulk ordering, but knew I personally probably wouldn’t use that option very often. When I heard about Mariposa’s plan to move and expand, I knew it was time to finally join. I would like Mariposa to offer all of the products of a full-service grocery store, but keep the local and organic focus.
I would also like to see Mariposa become a more inclusive and friendly place. It has a reputation of being exclusive and insular. I believe opening up the store to nonmembers will go a long way in fixing that, but I think completely changing the reputation will take continued time and serious effort on the part of the entire membership.
What do you hope to accomplish as a delegate? As an at-large delegate, I hope to help Mariposa smoothly transition as it settles into the new location. I would like to use my organizing experience to set up some of the anticipated community meetings, workshops, and seminars in the physically larger space. I have helped build and maintain community gardens as a Master Gardener volunteer and would like to be involved in the second phase of construction when Mariposa will add roof access, including a rooftop garden and beehives.
Marian Dalke, at-large delegate nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good delegate? I am a new member of the co-op and only recently joined in mid December. Since joining, I have held a number of workshifts at the current and new store locations. Though I am a new member, I am eager to get involved with the co-op and have gotten a positive feel from the staff and general members.
What other experience would make you a good delegate? I was a member of the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA) for 3 years while in college. During this time I learned a lot about cooperative structure, especially from attending the NASCO Conference twice. As an OSCA member I was involved on the hands-on level of cooking and cleaning the co-ops, as well as on the leadership committees. I served on the Nicaragua Sister Partnership committee for two years and was the coordinator of the committee for one year. I also served on OSCA’s board during Spring 2011 and was active at all weekly board meetings. Through these experiences I gained a great deal of skills in facilitation and group decision-making. Outside of “official co-ops” I have lived in several collective houses and worked on farms in Ohio & Maine. I am deeply engaged and committed to sustainable farming, food justice, anti-oppression and social justice. I am responsible, kind, and funny.
Why is Mariposa important to you? Mariposa is an essential part of my political & spiritual commitment to live out my beliefs of a just, healthy world. As a co-op member it is important for me to participate in the co-op’s progressive vision of open, democratic membership and one member, one vote. These principles are an impressive and necessary intervention into the neo-liberal capitalist economy that destructively governs much of our world. I am also proud of Mariposa’s commitment to buying local, fresh food. As a person who is dedicated to local food and regional economies, this is an additional advantage of being a member. Finally, I am grateful for the co-op’s function as a community space of relationship building, organizing, and support. Mariposa represents the creative outcome of dedicated people!
What do you hope to accomplish as a delegate? As a board delegate, my primary goal would be to represent the membership’s concerns and ideas. I want to voice the needs of the current membership while looking ahead to ensure the well-being of the co-op as a whole. In the near future, I hope to help the board assist the membership and staff to make a seamless transition to the new storefront. Additionally, I want to work to improve outreach to neighbors so that Mariposa is an inviting and inclusive space for all West Philly residents. Lastly, I would love to develop communication and programming with other national and international co-ops to build alliances with people who are also engaged in the cooperative movement.
Peggy Kovich, at-large delegate nominee
I would like to express my interest in running for the Board of Delegates for Mariposa Coop. My husband, Todd and I are currently members and have been members for approximately 35 years. I believe that I can be helpful with the transition from a member type co-op to a co-op that is open to the community. My background includes teaching in the School District of Philadelphia both as a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher as well as a Culinary Arts teacher. Currently, I work as a Food Safety Specialist with a private company that conducts food safety audits for a number of different food service establishments.
Having access to nutritious food is one of the primary reasons that we joined the co-op. There just wasn’t many choices for buying quality food nearby in the past. I also loved and still love the idea of being able to walk around the corner to purchase good quality food without a lot of excess packaging. I support the co-op’s effort to purchase food locally.
Getting the word out about healthy food choices has been a basic part of my professional teaching career. Another aspect of my background that would be helpful for the co-op during this transition is my knowledge related to Food Safety. I presently have a current ServSafe certification. I have conducted food safety audits at a number of different types of institutions and restaurants in the past 2 1/2 years. In addition to promoting healthy food, the coop must have as a mission to provide food that is also safe to its members.
We have supported the co-op in this expansion effort by hosting a house party, increasing our equity and extending a loan to the co-op. I have been impressed with the efforts of the co-op leadership in the co-ordination of this immense effort to raise money for the co-op.
My interest in running for the board also relates to the viability of Baltimore Ave and the Cedar Park community in general. Over the years, I have been active in a variety of ways in Cedar Park as I believe that it takes a lot of volunteers to keep a community going and growing. Recently I have served as a board member for both the city’s Community Health Center at 43rd and Chester and the Calvary Cultural Center. In addition to buying healthy food, I also enjoy growing healthy food and have done so for many years at Warrington Garden. I successfully wrote a grant to Philadelphia Care Share to get rain barrels for the garden along the side Calvary United Methodist Church. I have also been involved in maintaining that garden. This past year, I worked with Cedar Park Neighbors in producing the Centennial Souvenir Book celebrating the 100th anniversary of the public park, Cedar Park, as well as the 50th Anniversary of Cedar Park Neighbors.
Shari Berger Kulanu, at-large delegate nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good delegate? I became a member of Mariposa after moving to West Philadelphia to attend Drexel Law School. I am currently in my final semester of law school (graduating May 2012), where I am focusing on animal law and public interest environmental law.
Although school has been my priority since moving to West Philadelphia, I have kept apprised on the co-op’s inner-workings and development by speaking with members, staff, and friends on the board. As I near the end of my time in law school, I am ready to become a more active member of the co-op and would be delighted to offer my skills and experience serving as an at-large delegate to the board.
What other experience would make you a good delegate? I moved to Philadelphia in 2009 after living in Oakland, CA for fifteen years. During my time in Northern California, I gained extensive experience in non-profit administration and education. I was also closely affiliated with a housing co-op, and briefly lived at the co-op when my living situation was in flux.
In 2005, I earned an MBA in Sustainable Business from New College of California, a cutting-edge, liberal arts college in San Francisco and Sebastopol. Unlike other MBA programs, the Green MBA was deeply rooted in triple-bottom line analysis, where economic profitability was measured in terms of social and environmental impact. As a graduate student I had the opportunity to develop business plans, help launch a sustainable food delivery company, consult with People’s Grocery in West Oakland (an organization that seeks to improve the health and economy of West Oakland through the local food system), and launch a rhythm-based music education program that brought affordable music education into Oakland elementary schools. I also worked for a California State senator to launch a civic engagement non-profit. In that capacity, among other responsibilities, I oversaw outreach and member development. Currently, I am the President of the Drexel Environmental Law Society and Outreach Coordinator for the law school’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund.
One of my greatest assets is my ability to work effectively with a wide range of people and my commitment to environmental and social justice. In addition to my academic and professional experience, I am a multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter and have training in sound production and web development. I would bring to the board a range of skills and experience that I believe would be useful at this critical time of the co-op’s development.
Why is Mariposa important to you? Throughout law school, the co-op has been an incredible resource for me, both in terms of community and access to nourishing food. Upon moving to West Philly I was disturbed at how unavailable groceries and fresh food are to most of the people in our neighborhood. As a co-op member, I am thrilled the co-op is expanding to the new store and will soon be open to the public. I believe that access to affordable fresh food is a basic right that all people should have, and I am honored to be part of the endeavor that is bringing this to the West Philadelphia community.
What do you hope to accomplish as a delegate? As a delegate, I want to develop more interaction between the board, the membership, and the local community. I also want to strengthen the co-op’s presence in the neighborhood by collaborating with other businesses and organizations, and working to support urban gardens and access to fresh food in our communities. I will also contribute my legal, business, and leadership skills to the board and the co-op as a whole.
Sonia Williams, at-large delegate nominee
What experience at Mariposa would make you a good delegate? I joined the co-op in 2008, and have done the cashiering workshift since joining. From August – December 2011 I continued to work as cashier staff for the co-op after the switch to a more intricate cashiering system. Working as a cashier has given me an enhanced view of the co-op’s daily process, since I interact with every customer and assist in answering calls. This has necessitated that I maintain a clear understanding of co-op policies.
I have also gained an appreciation for the constant work involved in maintaining a space that is organized, regulated, and consistent, while at the same time inclusive and flexible to the needs of a diverse community. Cashiers are also uniquely privy to the emotional experience of members while they are shopping. I’ve watched new shoppers wind shyly around groups of chatting regulars, seen people find a sought after product and put it back due to price, fielded complaints from members about various account and supply issues. No one policy is going to best suit every member, and trying to navigate that reality in a way that makes members feel appreciated is not always easy – especially when there is a line of other members waiting to make their purchases.
What other experience would make you a good delegate? Nearly all of my work experience in Philadelphia has revolved around direct social service. Most of this work has been in the area of public interest law, where I’ve worked as a paralegal and legal counselor. Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of clients. Each has their own set of legal and emotional needs, which vary widely based on their individual personalities, the communities from which they come, their past experiences with the justice system, etc. I understand how difficult it can be to meet the needs of a large community. I also believe strongly that, in the face of this difficulty, an organization cannot use it as an excuse to settle comfortably into one set of practices or ideals, but must rather use it as motivation to regularly rethink and restructure.
I currently teach yoga, and am involved in a PhARE (Philadelphiand Allied for a Responsible Economy). To me, both of these endeavors are about agency: agency over one’s personal outlook, and agency over one’s own financial wellbeing. I aim to help bring power into the hands of the wider community, a large piece of this involves the transformation of the decision-making process into something where individuals have the opportunity to be informed and heard. This same ideal is represented by the Mariposa Board. Mariposa facilitates agency to decide what we put into our bodies and where it comes from. The board is a body that helps ensure the co-op’s efforts are representative of the communities needs.
My experience with food systems is less extensive; however three years ago I co-lead an effort to refurbish a dilapidated greenhouse space in Simon Gratz high school in North Philadelphia. My co-leader and I partnered with a passionate teacher to bring high school and college students together. We cleaned out the space, fixed doors, constructed tables, shelves and light-boxes, and planted the first seeds the space had ever housed. This experience taught me a lot about group participation, working around the red tape, etc., but what stuck with me most is how much untapped desire there in this city to participate in its health, both bodily and environmentally.
Why is Mariposa important to you? I joined Mariposa for health and environmental reasons. I wanted to know where my food came from, so I could make responsible choices. I now want to join the board to help promote the other element of the co-op, which is collective empowerment. Growing up in Quaker schools, I have always believed collective empowerment is crucial within any organization,a nd I think Mariposa does a great job of not only listening to the needs of the community, but also actually working to incorporate those needs (a less common occurrence one might like to think). With the expansion comes added complication to this process, but also added potential.
Of course there is always room for improvement. For example, the co-op could improve in how it showcases products. This is especially the case for products that may be seen as unpopular, or even somehow taboo in the Mariposa “culture.” In my time as a cashier, I did not ring up a single package of meat, though the co-op has offered meat for months. I personally am not a vegetarian, and seeing the first meat ever sold in the co-op tucked into a lower corner of the fridge caused me to hesitate. Placement was likely a matter of available space, but as we grow and become more inclusive, it is crucial that we mark each addition in a celebratory nature.
The expansion is also a perfect opportunity to diversify the creative expression in the space. We should be reaching out to the wider West Philadelphia community not just for membership, but also for artwork, logo designs, etc. The co-op is so much more than a grocery store because it offers a sense of ownership for each member (beyond the fact that each member technically owns a part of it). One aspect of honoring collective ownership should be recognizing that types of creativity the co-op present now are not culturally neutral, and acting accordingly.
What do you hope to accomplish as a delegate? As an at-large delegate, my responsibility is to represent the larger community as accurately as I am able. I don’t claim to “know what’s best” for anyone. I can only speak to what I have experienced and witnessed, and I am confident I can do so in a way that is impartial and positive.