Ambler Co-op Pioneers Check In on the Future

With fewer meetings ahead than behind us, the Ambler Food Co-op Board of Directors stepped away from business at our Jan. 12 gathering to “check in” on everyone’s dreams and aspirations for the Co-op. January 2017 marks the five-year anniversary of our organizing effort. So we asked ourselves: Now what? What else — beyond getting our doors open — do we hope to accomplish as a co-op? 

Directors and guests at the meeting, including members of the Ambler Advisory Committee, our transition team for becoming integrated and represented within Weavers Way, wrote their answers on sticky notes.

We all agreed that it was refreshing to get our heads out of the weeds of “development” and hear about our “dreams,” especially as we gear up for increased community engagement and membership recruitment. For me, it brought goosebumps for a second time that day! The first was during a conversation with a woman from Oreland who came to join as a new member. She joined, in part, out of solidarity with a friend — one of our oldest members at 85, unable to drive, but within walking distance of our proposed store. We are equally anxious to greet her at the door — with not only healthy food, but also a wall of notices of community and education programs, working member shifts and a whole lot more.

— Kathleen Casey, President, Ambler Food Co-op 

“I want the co-op to be the heart of the community and create a strong local economy."

“An organization relevant to the community, representative of the people who live here."

“A store for all members of Ambler in their diversity and economic differences. A friendly place where customers are welcomed warmly and recognized."

“Like Ambler — a close-knit community."

“A community center that works well with other businesses and organizations. Fully integrated in community."

“Friendly, non-sterile, willing to help, compassionate but not patronizing. Broad variety of healthy food that is affordable."

“I want our co-op to feel like more than just a place we go every week as consumers. I want our neighbors to feel excited when they walk in or drive by and proud of the organization we’ve built. It should feel like a second home where we are eager to connect, participate and support one another in all sorts of ways."

“Inclusive — Anyone can afford to buy food / comfortable there, welcomed; variety of events; volunteer enthusiasm.
Community — Meeting space; involved outside store (school, events, community cupboard).
Green — Classes, zero-waste options."

“Responsive to the needs of the community and involved with the community re: food it sells, programs it offers."

“A co-op that reflects the needs and interests of the people who live there. One that is involved in the community by: Offering opportunities to creatively participate in making life better for all; providing ways to engage our young people; helping our older residents."

“I want to see programs like seed exchanges and partnerships with local organizations, member engagement, kid-friendly concerts."

“To walk into the store and feel connected — feel like staff are your friends and not just there to fulfill your needs but like they are your peers (all of equal importance = family)."

“Community center, community nutrition, active volunteer participation.

“Education, community gathering, special interests — making connections, community builder — a resource for all of Ambler."

“Like the kitchen is to the house, I see everyone gathering in the co-op. I want food that promotes health, community and environment. I’d like a lovely place to shop that is convenient to get to by foot, bike, bus or car. I see it as a place for ideas to germinate on how to make the community better. A way to tackle hunger in the community. Oh, and I’d like the food to be affordable."