Meet a Committee Member: David Woo

On which committee do you serve? I am on Steering. What do you do for a living? I am an Historic Site Tour Guide and all around Raconteur. How did you get involved with the food co-op? I am the current President of the Board of Directors at Weavers Way Food Cooperative in Mt. Airy. I want to see a larger cooperative presence here in the Philadelphia area. Over a couple of years ago I accompanied our General Manager, Glenn Bergman to an informational meeting in South Philadelphia to present and talk about how to start a Food Cooperative and many people attended. That effort grew into a group that just didn't move forward (but the Food For All Collective sprung out of this) and stopped meeting. I then finally got onto Facebook and saw a note from a good friend, Alison Fritz who's old garlic press (she'd gotten at Weavers Way) broke and she wanted a new one from Weavers Way but wasn't a member any longer. Her appeal to a current member to get one for her struck me because Weavers Way modified our structure to allow non-members to shop but Alison hadn't known that. After connecting and updating Alison about the changes at Weavers Way I also filled her in on the efforts from the previous South Philly group and soon we traded information, contacts and ideas. That first meeting at SPOAC in April 2010 was presented by Weavers Way Board Directors Bob Noble and Stu Katz and was attended by over 60 committed South Philadelphians. The South Philly Food Co-op adventure began. Why do you want a food co-op in South Philly? I want people in South Philly to be able to access high quality food from a community owned market and strengthen the Cooperative movement in all of Philadelphia. In the end, all cooperatives benefit from a successful South Philly Food Co-op and more people can share in this economic model of cooperation. Why should people join a food co-op? I think the main benefit is going to be the resulting responsiveness this cooperative can offer the community and the subsequent "pulling" of the entire food market sector on "main street" toward the more sustainable practices already practiced by food co-ops today. You owe it to yourself to investigate and learn more about the democratic, cooperative movement. This cooperative can be a model for food stores to follow, bringing better food and health to more people in South Philly. I think of a cooperative as a large partnership, everyone involved has a part ownership of the business and the goal is to benefit these owners and the community at large. If there is profit at the end of the year it would be shared based on patronage (the more you buy, the bigger your share) and not who owned more of the company. Each owner is limited to how much equity they can invest distributing power throughout the ownership and not concentrating it with a few wealthy parties. In the end, more economic power is retained in the neighborhood with no profit going to some corporate HQ thousands of miles away. A store that is responsive to shoppers because they are owners and the reason the store is opened in the first place, not to make money for shareholders. What is your favorite meal to cook and why? I like simple rice and beans, because one can use a little imagination to create entrees, side dishes, soups from a very basic start. The waiting for dried beans to soak helps me to remember that sometimes you just have to wait for some process to do it's thing before you can move onto the next step. We all need reminders now and then.