Dear Co-op Community,
I can only begin by expressing my dismay and sorrow over the death of George Floyd and my sympathies for the victims of racism and racist violence in our country, as have been so poignantly exposed in the events of the past two weeks. As a middle-aged straight white guy, I only know that my privilege leaves me plainly ignorant of the reality of being a person of color in the United States. Indeed, most of us can only try to understand the frustration and anger that Black Americans live with every day. The murder of George Floyd reminds us that systemic racism is pervasive in this country. Vermont is certainly not immune; this study shows we have the highest rate of adult black male incarceration in the U.S.
But let me be clear on this point: our co-op stands in opposition to bigotry, inequality, and violence in all forms, both direct and indirect. Racial justice is paramount to our country and must be a fundamental pillar of a just and equitable food system.
What can we do? We can educate ourselves and reflect on our individual privileges. We can check in on our friends and coworkers. We can support groups doing important work to dismantle racism in our community. We can listen. We can realize that there is much to learn and commit to taking action. The challenge is daunting but we must move forward together.
As Co-op staff, we will continue with implicit bias trainings and other conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Co-op Council is also focused on equity and how to help the Co-op be a place where everyone is truly welcome. We will seek outside resources to gather information, best practices and ideas about how we can create a more diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist place to work and shop. We welcome our members’ thoughts about other actions the Co-op can take to be more inclusive.
Cooperatives are based on values of openness, inclusion, equality, and equity. The seventh Cooperative Principle is Concern for Community: “While focusing on member needs, Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.” Of course, effective policies must lead to meaningful actions and our work as a cooperative must include helping to create a more just society.
Thank you for being a part of our co-op. Together we will continue to move forward through these challenging times. We do have hope and I hope that you and your loved ones are well.
Kari Bradley, General Manager
Face Masks with Valves
Thank you for wearing a facial covering while at the Co-op! If you use a mask with an exhalation valve, please know that most respirators with valves are not effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19, because the valve allows unfiltered exhaled air to escape. This is the finding of Cornell University whose standards are used in New York State.