September 9. 2012
Anniversary Month for the Syracuse Credit Union and Food Co-op!
Submitted by Sam on Thu, 09/06/2012 – 10:26
This month, two of Syracuse’s proudest and most community-based institutions, the Syracuse Cooperative Federal Credit Union, and the Syracuse Real Food Co-op, will be celebrating their 30th and 40th anniversaries, respectively.
The SRFC, founded in 1972 as the beginning to an alternative to the “war economy” by a dedicated group of Westcott-nation residents will celebrate its 40th anniversary this Saturday, September 8th. From Noon untili 5 PM, the 600 block of Kensington Road will be closed off to host a party that will feature live music from Sophistafunk, Those Ghost, and Earth Jam, as well as a Beer Garden, activities for kids, and a wide variety of delicious food and drink, prepared by a bunch of vendors, including Alto Cinco, Dinasour BBQ, Recess Coffee, and many others. For ordinary shopping, the store will still be open.
Cooperative Federal, founded in 1982 to respond to unmet financial needs of the community, as well as for a means to divest of savings in institutions doing business in South Africa under the Apartheid regime, will celebrate its 30th anniversary, on Saturday, September 22nd, at a gala at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo from 6 PM until midnight. There will be dinner, dancing, and a silent auction. Tickets are on a sliding scale from $20-$40, with all proceeds going to the Cooperative Federal’s financial education and counseling programs.
For more information on ticket sales, and to buy tickets online, check this link: http://www.cooperativefederal.org/en/annivtix
May 4, 2012
A blue tarp kept the mud at bay during the groundbreaking ceremony for the South Side’s Eat to Live Food Cooperative Friday morning, as organizers and local officials voiced their support for the project. Linda Littlejohn of Syracuse University’s South Side Initiative said the day reminded her of the lyrics to a Sam Cooke song:
“It’s been a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come,” she announced with a smile.
The Cooperative, affectionately known as The Co-op, has been in the works since 2006. It is intended to address the lack of accessible grocery stores on the South Side by creating an affordable source of fresh fruit, vegetables and other staples.
Speaking to the crowd at the groundbreaking event, Mayor Stephanie Miner said that pro-bono work by volunteers has saved the project hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Without the volunteers, this would not happen,” she repeated.
In addition to a number of community members, many SU professors and students have been involved in the planning and design. Sekou Cooke, an associate professor of architecture, created the design and incorporated ‘green’ elements to improve the building’s efficiency. These include a roof designed for solar panels, a water reclamation system in the basement, and pourous pavement to allow rainwater to seep into the ground instead of runoff into storm drains. Cooke says that working on the project made him feel that it was important.
“It opened my eyes up to a lot of the realities that were happening here on the South Side. It makes me feel like I need to be involved in more projects here,” Cooke said.
The new $3,000 building will occupy the vacant lot at 2327 S. Salina St. Organizers expect construction to begin this month so the Co-op can open for business by January of 2013.
Community members will have the opportunity to buy shares in the cooperative for $100 and receive a percentage of profits at the end of the year. Amatullah Yamini, a longtime South Side resident and owner of Salina Shoes, says she has already purchased a share.
“I was shopping here when they were on the corner,” she said, remembering how volunteers began testing the viability of the project by setting up a fruit and vegetable stand throughout the year.
“It’s come a long way,” she added. “I’d go there and get greens, oranges, bananas. If I didn’t see it, they’d try and get it next time.”
Looking out at Salina Street, Co-op board member Howie Hawkins pointed out where grocery stores used to stand on the South Side.
“Up here on the corner of Brighton there was a grocery,” he said. “The last one left in 2009. That’s why they call it a food desert.”
He says that the co-op model, where members have the opportunity to purchase shares and have a stake in the profits, is significant.
“It means we own it. The community owns it. It can’t decide, like P&C did, to just shut down.”
The Eat to Live Food Cooperative is a project of the South Side Initiative and the Southside Community Coalition. The South Side Stand is a similar project. Funding for the Co-op has included grants from the CNY Regional Economic Development Council, Syracuse University and local non-profit foundations.
In celebration of the United Nation’s 2012 declaration of the International Year of the Cooperative, we are organizing a summit of Upstate New York cooperatives – banking, grocery, housing, agricultural, worker. The summit will be held in Syracuse on Saturday, March 31 from 10 am to 5 pm at the South Side Innovation Center (2610 South Salina St, Syracuse, NY) and include presentations and discussions with inspiring cooperative organizations and members. The event will be an opportunity to
- Build relationships among the cooperative community around New York State
- Educate and inspire entrepreneurs and workers about possible cooperative control of their economic lives
- Give existing cooperatives greater exposure to each other and the public, and
- Assemble a database of organizations and individuals interested in cooperatives, for state-wide organizing.
We invite you to get involved! Our organizing group, led by the Onondaga Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is looking for sponsors to help make the event free or low-cost to attendees, for businesses to showcase themselves through tabling, and for support in promoting the event to constituencies throughout NY. This money will help pay for space, lunch, printed programs, and audio-visual resources.