Common Good

A Local Payment Card That Creates a Funding Pool for Our Shared Dreams as a Community

Written by Christine Lindstrom  | July, 1 2019

Hi,  I’m Christine Lindstrom from Common Good — a grassroots, non-profit payment system out of Ashfield, MA which enables account holders to invest the proceeds in their communities. In addition to my passion for transforming the world of finance into something good for everyone rather than just for some, I am a proponent of worker owned and consumer owned cooperatives. Even before I moved to Amherst last August, we joined on as members of the Common Share Food Co-op.

I enrolled because, like most other folks who live in the Amherst downtown/East Amherst area, I want to get to an abundance of healthy, nutritious food more easily than I can right now. But more importantly, I appreciate what the cooperative model for a grocery store can do for a community. It’s possible for a group of people banding together to get what they want in a marketplace, specifically the flawed food market, which can lead to many positive impacts. We can increase our area’s food security by purchasing from local, independent farms around here. We can increase access to healthy, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods in places that have limited access.

And yes, through competition, we can lower prices together, on key goods. Although in the many conversations I have had about the food co-op with my Amherst friends and neighbors, I have pointed out that I appreciate paying a bit more for food produced locally when it means supporting the kind of community I want to live in. For me, that means one in which my friends and neighbors produce great bounty locally, and everyone around me eats well, with little social and economic cost. But right now, the economic and social barriers to building the community of our dreams are high.

That’s why, right now, when the barriers are high, it’s important for you to opt in to the Co-op.

At Common Good, I’m working with a strong community of justice minded people who are all in. We just launched a Food Fund pilot, which enables account holders who are food secure to pay a little extra with each food related purchase they make, so that our food insecure members can get a credit of $20 to spend at Simple Gifts Farm in North Amherst. Driven by our members who want to band together to have a greater impact, we have built this incredible platform to ensure that those with means can use those means to help their neighbors.  We may not succeed, but I know, with this group, that we’ll simply learn from the failure and try again in a more informed way.

Another way of putting it is that they are ignoring that little voice inside their heads that says “This is never gonna work and I’m a sucker for agreeing to give it a try.”

Similarly, the board of the Common Share Food Co-op has stopped listening to doubt and uncertainty, or the many rationalizations that can be made that the Co-op won’t work, or won’t be built. Instead, aiming to build a community around a store that ensures we leave no neighbor in need of nutrition and wellness in their everyday lives, they keep showing up, doing the work, and making it happen. Now the membership drive is over halfway there.

So, I urge all co-op members to talk about it with their friends and persuade them to join.

Ignore your little voice, and, just like the members of the Common Share Food Co-op board, let your hopes and dreams lead the way!

Article written by Christine Lindstrom, a Common Share Food Co-op Member Owner. 

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