Once upon a time we had beautiful table tops in our cafe seating area, each hand-painted by local artists. So long ago, in fact, that they were there when the seating area was just a few tables in front of the registers. Time and sales growth saw those tables removed in favor of a larger, more uniform seating area, but shoppers and staff members alike still fondly speak about them. Art impacts us. We remember it. The table tops told the story of who we were as a community at the time.
We feel this year, being the force that we naively did not anticipate in December 2019, is the perfect time to capture who we are right now. We have all experienced disruption, and in some instances complete upheaval, on global, local and intrapersonal level in 2020. Our experience at the Co-op has been no different. As ongoing injustice was exposed as food insecurity continued to disproportionately impact communities of color; our own community notwithstanding, we were called back to our roots in food accessibility with the understanding that now we must take further action to show up for our community in ways we have not before.
While we are engaging in food equity work, we wanted to draw in local artists of color to get their perspective on the intersection between access to food and community in the form of a mural that we hope to have placed on our external cafe seating area walls. This mural represents our recommitment to our co-operative principles and a celebration of what makes our Co-op possible, our community.
To accomplish this we are going to be working with the CHROMA Guild through Erie Arts & Culture. The CHROMA Guild “advances opportunities and access to resources for creative and cultural professionals of color in Northwestern Pennsylvania.” This partnership exemplifies all that is wonderful about being a food co-op under the cooperative principles.
The Co-op Board of directors voted to contribute $6,500 to this project, but we’d like to do even better to support artists of color in our community through this project. This is a call to action to our member-owners to contribute to this and own a piece of this art, by donating to Erie Arts & Culture on Erie Gives Day.
Please consider supporting raising up the voices of POC artists as they work to tell the story of our Co-op; food, community, social justice.