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This is REAL.

A few hours ago, I sat, somewhat stunned at the huge turnout, in Bethlehem Public Library at the first meeting for the Bethlehem Grocery Co-Op. What seemed like a far fetched dream several years ago as I hauled my groceries on the bus or waited for a ride to get to the nearest grocery store now seems like a real possibility. As the chairs filled and people spilled into the hallway to hear information about the history of co-ops, the realistic steps towards opening one, and the principles behind one, the energy in the room was practically as visible as fireflies. Jaime, Cathy and Summer did an excellent job organizing the meeting and keeping us enthusiastically on task. When we broke into brainstorming groups, I could feel the wealth of ideas filling the air, and there was no shortage of people signing up to volunteer on different committees.

First Meeting Crowd

Both the crowd and the excitement were too great to contain in the room!

I have somehow wonderfully ended up with the task of keeping a blog as a record of the progress we all make in the long, surely arduous, yet amazingly satisfying process of creating a grocery co-op in Bethlehem. As this is a co-op (meaning cooperative), please don’t hesitate to leave your comments and suggestions about the blog, offer to help with content generation as needed or share this blog with anyone and everyone. Your voice will be heard!

I came home so energized that I couldn’t bear to not jump right in and get this blog up, so here we have it! In the next few days, look to find the handout information and more details from the first meeting, and keep your eyes open for scheduling information about a meeting to accommodate those who could not attend tonight. In coming weeks, I’ll also be adding content from the co-op Facebook group (click here to join!) and tweaking the layout to suit the needs of the group.

In the meantime, friends, foster that enthusiasm as fuel to keep us going so we can make this happen! This is REAL.

-Colleen Marsh

P.S. For a super quickly posted more detailed account of the first meeting, take a look at The El Vee blog coverage.


4 responses »

  1. Could you give us a brief background of the co op concept? I have heard of a “garden” co-op but am intriged to learn more of the grocery concept.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Mia, a grocery co-op (or cooperative grocery store) is an independent, democratic organization, owned, operated and financed by its members, committed to the people it serves and the communities to which it lives. The store would provide wholesome food at reasonable prices and would most likely be located in downtown Bethlehem or southside (which currently lack walkable grocery stores). At the meeting last night, many people also generated ideas about community education/outreach, prepared foods, etc.. A clearer picture will emerge as the process continues, with the best part being that each member would get a say in what is created! When I receive the documents from their respective creators, I’ll be posting the information handouts/FAQs from the meeting on the blog. You can also attend the meeting for those who couldn’t attend on 11/30 (12/11 from 4-7pm at Jumbars).

      Hope this helped!

    • Also, we got our own domain name today, so for the most up to date info, check


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