On the afternoon of the first Co-op meeting, I went to Cathy’s house while she and Summre sat drinking chai tea from one of those tiny chinese tea kettles. Her kitchen is gorgeous – modest in structure but full of old glass jars full of pasta and beans, and so many windows letting in the light, like a metaphor for what was to take place that evening.
We talked business, went over the agenda, and Summre (cook and former owner of one of my favorite breakfast places in Bethlehem) wowed us with ways we can use technology to help get things off the ground (okay, it’s official: iPads are pretty neat). In between moments of productivity, we talked about kids and perfume and books.
(I was sharing natural remedies/strategies for coping with anxiety and panic when Cathy got up, went to a bookcase, and handed me a copy of “Comfortable with Uncertainty” by the beloved Pema Chodron. Cathy had no idea that one of Pema’s books, “When Things Fall Apart“, helped to save and then reshape my life and self-identity two years earlier.)
Once we wrapped up, I walked home with a mind spinning about the possibilities that are available to us – here and now – in this community, in this town, in the present.
Later, at the library, as people began entering the room, it soon became evident that we were going to run out of chairs. “This is perhaps the best problem we could have…” I said, addressing the issue at the start, no one seeming to mind and folks quickly finding floor space to share with neighbors and nodding between bites of homecooked food from the potluck table. Summre’s daughter made a picture on the chalkboard welcoming everyone, along with a tiny cartoon man with a speech bubble proclaiming, “I love the Co-op!”.
If this all sounds a little too romantic, a little too Small-Town-Where-Everyone-is-Friendly-and-Shares-Food-and-Thoughts-in-Public-Spaces… I recognize it; except, well, that’s how it happened.
Some other local bloggers did really fantastic jobs of capturing the feeling of the meeting itself, so I’ll point you over to their blogs for recaps: Colleen of FromHereNow writes the new official Co-op Blog and (name withheld to remain anonymous as per his blog) from The El Vee has a very detailed review and excellent photos of the people and food.
Surprisingly the meeting ended nearly 25 minutes before expected, but that didn’t mean anyone was done talking. An hour later attendees were still standing outside on the library steps talking (squealing?) with ideas and plans to move the Co-op forward. They say nothing brings people together like food, and a food store “by the people, for the people” seems to reinforce that notion.
Feeling exhausted but too excited to sleep, a few of us met at Summre’s house to attempt to find a way to close the evening, but even an hour later as we finally left to go to our own homes, the air felt electric, enough to power all the twinkle lights that have started to pop up around the city.
Back at home, I was rooting around the dresser for pajamas, Ryan (unable to attend) asked how it went. I pulled the cardigan around me, scratched Pierogi’s ears, and found I was unable to put my feelings into words. And that oddly, after a night of such positivity and action, I felt a worrying in the pit of my stomach.
I’m not sure I have identified the feeling entirely, but it may be in part: if somehow this doesn’t happen, or if it happens and it doesn’t do well, are we failures? Will it be my fault? Is it narcissistic of me to think that something I helped create has enough of an impact to affect people anyway?
… there was that panic again. So I went to my bag to get the book Cathy loaned to me. I opened to a random page, and found this:
A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next. We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not-knowing is part of the adventure. (“Comfortable with Uncertainty”, by Pema Chodron)
This not-knowing is part of the adventure.
I do know this: the meeting was more successful than we could have hoped, and we left having lots of people volunteering to be on various committees. We have a more direct path on the process (what will likely take a few years) to make this a reality. We are coming up with a cohesive vision for our own food Co-op.
It will take a tremendous amount of time and work, but the foundation has been set and it’s strong.
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To anyone unable to make the first meeting, a second meeting is set for Sunday, December 11th at 4pm at Jumbar’s in Bethlehem. GO HERE FOR MORE INFO on the Make Up Meeting. (You don’t need to attent this meeting if you were at the first – it won’t be new information at this time, though you are welcome once again to join us.)