Education Recap for 2012

2012 is coming to a close and it is incredible how much we have accomplished, as a Co-op and as a community. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the generosity and inventiveness that I have encountered in our Co-op’s owners in the several months that I’ve been in the Education position.

 

We’ve broken records for sales, and stayed on target with our projected deadlines for our expansion project, we’ve pulled together as community to make possible a challenging, exhausting, rewarding expansion that feels monumental to so many people who have lived in this community for decades, and a huge number of new faces as well to add to our complex and exciting owner base.

 

Here are some of the big things we did in education this year:
Classes and Events: We held more than 70 Common Ground classes and educational events this year, from Urban Chickens to Cheese 101 and beyond. We also presented Grow On programs in a handful of classrooms, and talked to dozens of children and parents about food and nutrition at three different wellness and environmental events.
Expansion: Expansion means the opening of the Flatlander Classroom, a space that will enable us to offer diverse and exciting class experience to the entire community and also work towards our Ends! Check out the Flatlander story here!

We have developed a new set of class policies for the new year to ensure a fair wage for our instructors and the best classes for everyone. We offer classes on a trimester basis: information about the classes we will offer January-April, May-August, and September-December will now be available on the first day of the respective trimester.  As we start the new year we will be going online with our class sign up process!  Customers may still come into the store to sign up, of course!

Food For All Educational Grants: In an effort to make sure that our classes and educational opportunities are accessible to folks of all different incomes and financial situations  we are expanding our AWESOME Food For All Program to include Educational Grants. Anyone in need is eligible. It will be easy to use in-store and online!
Local Media and Community Engagement: Local media consulted Common Ground for numerous articles and stories. We are proud to be a community resource on food and sustainability issues. We also sent representatives to conferences on the health and safety of our food, and  given presentations and workshops for community organizations. We have a representative on the Local Foods Policy Council (that’s me!), and are always innovating new and effective ways to stay involved in our community and effect change.
Newsletters: We sent out twelve editions of our monthly e-newsletter, From the Ground Up, to well over 3,000 community members. In addition, we sent out 4 e-newsletter Action Alerts about national-level food issues.

 

Here’s to an even more productive and educational new year!


Classroom!

The Flatlander Teaching Kitchen and Community Classroom will be opening this month! How exciting! The Teaching Kitchen, in Common Ground’s expanded store represents a space for community to thrive and for educational programming that empowers people and teaches them invaluable life skills. We are grateful for vision and financial support from the Flatlander Food Foundry, born out of Dan Schreiber’s dreams for our community. Our Co-op’s Ends, which represent the vision that our owners have for the future of our store compliment Dan Schreiber’s conviction in support of education as a tool to make food a community asset and empower people to feed themselves and their families well and we hope to work with you, our community, to build the most exciting and effective educational programming that we can.

Many of you have heard of the Flatlander story, some of you never have. In June of this year our General Manager, Jacqueline Hannah, wrote a thorough and illuminating article that told the story of Dan Schreiber, for whom the Flatlander Community Kitchen/Classroom space is named. Check it out here.


Room for Growth

In the middle of August I had the pleasure of sitting in a small chair in a classroom of the middle school I attended a handful of years ago, presenting our Co-op’s classes and educational opportunities to a room full of dedicated educators. What I came away with was a wealth of ideas and passion that these hard working teachers shared with me. Our children’s future is looking bright in these hands. During the session they shared a need for healthful food choices and food education for the young people they work with every day and their families.

As we get back into the swing of the school year we have a lot to look forward to here at Common Ground. We are continually working towards our cooperative Ends and, as many of you may know, education is a huge part of these Ends. We have the opportunity, as a Co-op, to push new boundaries and redefine what it is that education means to our community.

It is no doubt apropos that this month is Local Foods Month, because the entire expansion project aspires to strengthen the local economy and bolstering local producers (check out the Expansion Update, below, for details). The opening of the Flatlander Community Kitchen classroom here at Common Ground  represents an opportunity for our local foods community to thrive and expand as, like all social consciousness shifts, education is paramount.
So here comes the challenge:  How do we work to serve the needs of our loyal long-term customer/owner base but also reach out to communities that we have never worked with before? How do we build a community based educational initiative that enriches and expands our engagement with local and global food policy? How can we continue to push the boundaries of what we define as ‘possible’?

Oh the potential!  The investment that our Co-op is making in education enables us to chart a trajectory that moves us closer to our Ends. Charged with this work we prioritize  making the “Co-op the center of a vibrant, inclusive community,” and “serving as an educational resource on food issues.”

We can continue this work by utilizing the explosive knowledge that we have right here in this town. To make the most of this resource let’s forge a culture of mutual education. Teach and be taught. Learn from our neighbors, and build partnerships with community organizations. We can gain perspective from considering what education means to families who can not make ends meet. We can help make healthy eating  an attainable goal regardless of circumstance. We can make eduction a tool to improve the health of our community, our world, and our environment.  We can see what it means to make a priority out of one another.

I am looking forward to collaborations that strengthen our local economy and building a Co-op community with a foundation in education. We are embarking on so many exciting projects, I’ll do my best to keep you all abreast of new developments!

In Cooperation,
Maya Bauer
Education Coordinator Common Ground Food Co-op
commonground.outreach@gmail.com