PACA Director to Speak on Co-op Racial Equity at Virtual Fall GMM Next Month

by 
Roz Dutton, Co-chair, Weavers Way Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board
Jamila Medley, PACA executive director

Our speaker for the Fall General Membership Zoom Meeting on Thursday, Nov. 12 is Jamila Medley, executive director of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance. She’ll be speaking on “Entrenching the Commitment — Economic and Racial Equity in our Food Co-op Community.”

Medley was originally scheduled to speak at the Spring GMM, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.Under her leadership, PACA provides a space where co-ops across the region come together to share resources and create a network of people power.

Weavers Way is a member of PACA, along with two other food co-ops in the city — Mariposa Food Co-op in West Philly and Kensington Community Food Co-op. Currently, there are 25 PACA member co-ops, including food, housing and worker co-ops, credit unions and others. In addition, there are four regional food co-ops in the process of opening: South Philly Food Co-op, Bethlehem Food Co-op, West Chester Cooperative, and Kennett Community Grocer. PACA member co-ops throughout the area support each other to work on economic and racial equity. Medley believes in and envisions what is possible when we work together.

Food co-ops are community hubs. They can lift up important issues and make contributions to the larger community through the growth and values of the cooperative economy. Food co-ops can operate under the principles of food sovereignty—the right for all people to have access to food that is healthy and sourced in ways that are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate.

Medley grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Philadelphia 10 years ago. Her Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics is from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a former Mariposa Food Co-op employee, a current Weavers Way Co-op member and a Mt. Airy resident. She served on the steering committee to plan the opening of PACA from 2012 -2014 and on the group’s board from 2014-16. She has been PACA’s executive director since 2017.

PACA and Medley are known to the board and staff of Weavers Way, but members should know that PACA is there for us, too. There is untapped energy among us to be part of the movement for economic and racial equity within the Co-op community and in neighborhoods surrounding the stores. With PACA as a resource and the staff, including Jamila, as advocates, translating our values (Ends) into change and transformation becomes more possible when we work together.