Could we remember who we are?

Dear fellow Coop Members,
The attached article spoke to me of the community I know we have been and still are to one another. With all of the conflict currently poised to tear us apart, I wondered if remembering the messages in this article might be helpful. We are a diverse, complex, creative, skilled and loving group. When all the current turmoil ebbs we still want to be able to greet each other in the aisles. Friends and strangers who can see beyond our differences. If fear can be overcome connection follows.
Chris Colarusso
Proud Working Member in the Meat and Seafood Department
Proud Member Owner of the Honest Weight Food Coop

Gate A-4 By Naomi Shihab Nye
Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”
I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.”
We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life, patting my knee, answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies— little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts— from her bag and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single traveler declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo— we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.
Then the airline broke out free apple juice and two little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they were covered with powdered sugar too. And I noticed my new best friend— by now we were holding hands— had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that gate— once the crying of confusion stopped— seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

 

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7 thoughts on “Could we remember who we are?

  1. Mary Ann McNamara

    Yes very nice. I was so pleased yesterday when, despite our differences, you gave me a cheery hello and then laughed at my silly joke. BTW are you loving your renovations at home??

    Like

  2. Colleen Putnam

    Chris – I couldn’t agree more! My wish has been for us to come together, in a cooperative manner, to talk like, and with, the reasonable people I know we are. Can you imagine if that was done at the onset, with a plate of powdered cookies, instead of it becoming so entrenched and divisive?

    I’d like to believe that ALL of our hearts are open. Truly open. See you in the aisles…I’ll be the one with the smile and my hand out to greet you!

    Peace — Colleen Putnam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chris Colarusso

      That would have required an open, honest and transparent presentation from the Board and the rest of leadership to treat the Membership with respect. They have silenced each other and have withheld information we needed to maintain a respectful and open sharing. The insistence on confidentiality among the few who were given information has created the divisions. I absolutely want to work to make the changes that might possibly return us to a collaborative, cooperative community. The Letter to the DOL sent weeks ago and withheld from all of us is clear expression of the intent to take action that will be damaging to the Coop without fulfilling the Bylaw regarding the need to keep the Membership informed and respecting our right to vote regarding the very issues they have taken into their own hands.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Board just email blasted us with a link to the previously secretive letter. However without a password, which I requested weeks ago, we cannot see the letter after clicking the link. I believe we need to remove the Board and management team, and then we have to come up with a plan to reduce the debt, lower the prices, and eliminate some of the top heavy salaries that are currently being paid. We need to give our individual section managers more room to order for their departments, which right now they have no control over to my knowledge. We need to come up with a financial plan that gets the coop out of debt, and brings back the poorer community to shop at Honest Weight. And finally, we need to increase our member labor opportunities, and decrease our paid employees. Jules

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for sharing this. This is the spirit of the co-op I joined almost 10 years ago. I miss those days. I want to see us bring that back. A co-op where everyone cares about each other and their wellbeing – not just the bottom line. The corporatizing of our co-op is sickening. I come to work at the co-op because I BELIEVE in the co-op model. I work long, hard days in the corporate world and while it sustains me financially, the 3 hours I work at the co-op sustains me in so many other ways my 40-60 hour corporate job cannot – the connections I have with other working members, staff members, and most of all our loyal customers that I see week after week – THAT is why I work at the co-op. It’s because those relationships sustain me week after week. THAT is why the co-op has gotten as far as it has. And THAT is how the co-op will move through this and come out shining on the other side. It’s all about our connections and relationships. I don’t know how we’ll do it, but I know – I BELIEVE – that when we all have our hearts in the right place, something wonderful will come out of all of this. Only love and appreciation of everyone else and the unique gift they are to our world will conquer the fear and disconnection that has infiltrated our co-op. Let’s do this, folks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for sharing this. This is the spirit of the co-op I joined almost 10 years ago. I miss those days. I want to see us bring that back. A co-op where everyone cares about each other and their wellbeing – not just the bottom line. The corporatizing of our co-op is sickening. I come to work at the co-op because I BELIEVE in the co-op model. I work long, hard days in the corporate world and while it sustains me financially, the 3 hours I work at the co-op sustains me in so many other ways my 40-60 hour corporate job cannot – the connections I have with other working members, staff members, and most of all our loyal customers that I see week after week – THAT is why I work at the co-op. It’s because those relationships sustain me week after week. THAT is why the co-op has gotten as far as it has. And THAT is how the co-op will move through this and come out shining on the other side. It’s all about our connections and relationships. I don’t know how we’ll do it, but I know – I BELIEVE – that when we all have our hearts in the right place, something wonderful will come out of all of this. Only love and appreciation of everyone else and the unique gift they are to our world will conquer the fear and disconnection that has infiltrated our co-op. Let’s do this, folks.

    Like

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