by Jordan Green
For a long time I’ve been interested in people’s capital.
The availability and withdrawal of capital is used to keep workers from organizing for higher wages and to coerce communities into accepting enterprises and amenities that don’t enhance their quality of life. So why don’t we the people pool our resources and finance enterprises that provide employment, enhance quality of life and add value?
Coming from a different angle, I have a lot of friends who donate food to pantries, and volunteer their time to prepare meals and serve homeless people. I have a lot of admiration for those who tend to those who have been wounded and discarded in this economy. But I also weary of charity. I ask myself: What could we do to invest in a healthy economy that prevents people from getting cast out of the American Dream and dependent on charity?
So it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. I’m making a $100 payment through PayPal to become a member of the Renaissance Community Cooperative.
The cooperative is selling memberships to finance a new grocery in the anchor space at Renaissance Shopping Center, which has been vacant since Winn-Dixie pulled out in 1999. The community has been struggling to recruit a new grocery ever since. They fought successfully to keep the nearby White Street Landfill closed.
And that brings up another issue: The divestment that took place when a grocery store left, with home values falling as the area became less appealing because of lack of access to food, made the community a ripe target as a dumping ground for a city council that was intent on cutting costs on the backs of the poor.
With the landfill crisis averted, it’s imperative to build equity in the community.
Talk of another grocery store opening in the location has come and gone; an announcement was made about Compare Foods opening, but then the deal fell through. When the Renaissance Community Cooperative opens, it will be owned by the community, and its fate won’t be determined by how much profit a corporation can squeeze out or how many families earning $80,000-plus live in a one-mile radius. I’ll shop there, but more importantly, I’ll know that I have a stake in the community’s success.