August 2018 Newsletter

Hey there,

I'm Jillian. I produce this thing and make sure it gets to you every other week. Want to learn more? Contribute? Have a hot tip? Write me at: [email protected]

Scroll on for Owner Number 1's take on site selection, one woman's take on Community Engagement, and the announcement of our new Volunteer Coordinator. And as always, we can't do it if you don't....

Become an Owner


Letter from the Board


Site Selection is just around the corner

A question I'm frequently asked is “Why is it taking so long for the Co-op to open”? When I attended my first training to learn about organizing a food co-operative, I learned that it can take between 5 to 9 years to open a co-operative grocery store. A co-operative is a grassroots community organization and it is also a business, and development of both parts take a lot of time. The Rogers Park Food Co-op incorporated in May 2014 and many meetings had been held prior to that time to put together an organizing group. We currently have 318 owners. To reach this number we have spent many hours reaching out to the community. The co-operative is a “We” project, we need everyone to make this happen.

When we reached 200 owners in 2017 we conducted a preliminary Market Study that indicated that there is market for a full-service co-operative grocery store in our neighborhood. Site Selection is the next step! In order to move forward on finding a location we need to raise capital by increasing our owner count to 450. This will enable us to secure a site for the co-op. Neighbors, we are getting closer!

This is what Owners can do in August to help reach the goal:

We need you to bring your friends and neighbors to the following events and sign up to become owners of the co-op:

* Rogers Pork, Saturday, August 5th, noon- 5p.m. Jarvis Square

* Glenwood Arts Festival, Saturday, August 18 and Sunday August 19th, 11a.m. Glenwood Arts District

* Join the Make It Happen Team on Thursday, August 16th at Unity in Chicago, 1925 W. Thome, 7p.m.-8:30 p.m.

* Attend our Board Meeting on Thursday, September 6th, 7-9p.m. Unity in Chicago, 1925 W. Thome, we want you to come, you are the solution. If you are not currently an owner please join at

Owners, please become involved!

If you are already an owner, please join us in talking with neighbors and friends about becoming owners, please bring them to one of our upcoming events. We will have a table to sign up owners at Rogers Pork, August 5th and the Glenwood Arts Festival on August 17th and 18th this year. All Owners are welcome to attend our Board meetings on the 1st Thursday of the month at

7p.m. at Unity in Chicago, 1925 W. Thome. Join our Community Engagement Team on Thursday, August 16th at 7p.m. at Unity in Chicago, 1925 W. Thome.

If you have not yet become an owner of the co-op, now is the time, you will make a difference by joining now. Household, not-for-profit organization or business ownership is $250 and we have payment plans of $ 10, $25 or $50 per month. We also have a sponsorship program for community members who may need help paying the full amount. Join at

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions or ideas you may have, I would love to hear from you.

I love this phrase by Hellen Keller “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – it very much applies to the message I am crafting.

Mary Meyer,

Founder & Board Membe

[email protected]


Mary Meyer

What is Community Engagement?

Kathryn Grzebieniak, owner #264, considers her role

There was a definite moment, at the start of my new job, that I questioned my passion for Community Engagement.  My job title is People & Office Coordinator. It was billed in the job description, and by the interviewers, as the “culture cheerleader” of the company.  They wanted someone to come on board to engage the community of employees they had while also doing light office management and HR/Recruiting coordination.

“Finally!” I thought.  I would be able to engage employees in the workplace.  I would be able to make all employees feel useful and great about their work.  After working at a very small retail wine shop with four employees and 0 culture or engagement, I was so ready to follow my heart in a job that I was passionate about. Well, that’s where things turned a little pear shaped.

I have always been interested in Community Engagement.  I interned at a small art museum in Davenport, Iowa named, The Figge, during my senior year of college in 2009-2010.  I was their Art Education Outreach Intern. That continues to be one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had to date.  The joy it brought me to see the community and families brought together because of art was immense. I knew I wanted to work in a field and a role that allowed me to bring communities together but I wasn’t sure how to do that.

Over the last 8 years of my life, I had been working at a small wine shop in Northbrook.  I was their Operations and Client Relations Manager. I was growing more and more tired of the environment by the day.  Originally, the wine shop was supposed to be an interim job for me. I was going to do something big in art. I was going to engage art communities in Chicago...just as soon as someone would hire me.  I realized that maybe the art dream had burned out by my third or fourth year at Knightsbridge. I lost my way for a brief period of time and then (with a little push from Jillian Jason) I started to figure out what truly interested me.

I thought about my art dream and what was at the core of that dream.  Community. Bringing a community together. Community Engagement? Of course! Community engagement was the general term I had been looking for.  I wanted to be able to bring a community of possible strangers with similar interests together. I wanted to be the person introducing neighbors who didn’t even know they were neighbors to each other!  It all made sense to me. Because Community Engagement is such a broad term, I related it to my own work struggles.  I was mistreated and disengaged in my role. My bosses weren’t advocates for my professional growth and it became harder and harder to go to work.  The market looked bright for workplace community engagement. Trying to engage employees and make them feel appreciated? I could definitely do that!  No one knows better how to NOT treat employees better than me, right? Well, I interviewed for almost a year and finally found my current job. What a dream!

It turns out that people who are used to stellar treatment at companies aren’t grateful for that treatment, they feel entitled to it.  Instead of being a “company and culture cheerleader” I find myself being more akin to a glorified babysitter. I get complaints on a daily basis about what we don’t have in the office and what we should have in the office.  The free Tuesday lunches that I order are sometimes met with suggestions or criticisms. The free snacks and drinks aren’t what everybody would like, where’s that free peanut butter and why in god’s name isn’t it creamy instead of chunky??

My view of community engagement darkened.  “Maybe I just don’t have the patience in me to work with people?”  I thought. Worse yet, “Maybe I just don’t even like people that much?” In comes, the Rogers Park Food Coop.

Jillian and I first saw the people of the RPFC at Social one evening about a year ago.  We were grabbing a drink and we saw Sprouts and Social. Jillian signed up to be an owner that day.  Since then she’s been a driving force behind the coop. So much so that she’s even involved me in tiny tasks for the coop.  One Saturday morning, during my existential “do I even like people and why in the world did I think Community Engagement was for me?” crisis, I helped her deliver food sponsored by the RPFC for the Artists’ of the Wall festival.  It made me feel warm that members of the RP community were coming together to create something unique and beautiful for their friends and neighbors. AND they weren’t complaining about their free lunch.  These were just people who came out to support their community.  Families, friends, neighbors - all together for a cause. I saw that and commented to Jillian how great it felt to help out with the cause.  At that moment and with the help of my better half, I realized that all hope is not lost for community engagement and me. Maybe I just need to engage a different community?  One that is working together to bring their friends and neighbors together and who are grateful for a free lunch or engagement activities where they can get them.

Thanks to the RPFC (and Jillian) I have found my way towards community engagement again!


Hi, I’m Cris, and I am thrilled to now be supporting the co-op as Volunteer Coordinator! Let me tell you a little about my history with the Co-op: I became an owner in July 2017, started volunteering to help with outreach and events, and was elected to the Board of Directors in March (read my full bio here).

You may have seen some of my recent messages about our volunteer needs…but if not, here’s a recap:

We’re looking for all kinds of talents at all levels of commitment. Whether you have 5 minutes to spare or can join a committee, become an active part of this awesome community and help us realize our vision of opening a co-operative grocery store!

Here are just a few examples of the support we’re looking for:

  • Video editors
  • Event hosts
  • Community engagement ambassadors

Can I count on your help? Check your email for a summary of upcoming volunteer activities, or just email

[email protected] with your interests! Not sure what you can do to help?

Just reach out! I’d love to chat about the things you love doing most and see if we can find a match for you!

New Owner Spotlight

Sarah and Kirk Lashley

"My name is Sarah and I am a resident of Rogers Park and a small business owner in Evanston. I believe in supporting local and small businesses and believe that a local owned grocery store could give us fresh food at reasonable prices and a sense of ownership and community."

Thank you, Sarah and Kirk, and welcome to our community of neighbors who are building a grocery store together!

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