LaKeisha Thorpe

1. Why are you running for the board, and what skill sets do you bring to the table?

The idea of running for the co-op board is not one that I take lightly. It was something that I milled over and then realized I had a desire to be further invested in the co-op because everyone deserves access to good food. Not only access to good food, but also to food that inspires them, speaks to their culture, and to their traditions. Those sensibilities are ones that I adopted while working on my doctorate in transformative studies. I have looked at different ways to promote linkages in culture and found that storytelling through food allowed me to see and learn about different cultures, ethnicities, and most importantly, myself. Hunger is understood universally, lack of food can also mean a lack of connection to one's culture, which hinders psychological well-being. If food can do all of that and if I can help to bring food to my community in the hopes of all that I have mentioned, then it is something that I must try to be involved in at its core.

In terms of what skill set I bring to the co-op, I have been on the education committee for about a year now and I have helped to develop additional programming to widen the reach of the committee, and thus the co-op, into the community. I have spent the last decade moving up both administratively as well as academically in higher education. I am currently the Assistant Dean of Graduate and Adult Studies at Moravian College. My experience in higher education has given me strong background in structural mapping, large scale event planning, lesson planning, accreditation work, marketing, and community outreach. All of these pieces will be of use to me as a board member and to the board in its future project planning and community outreach.

2. What do you believe is the value of cooperative enterprise in today's economy?

In today's economy and with the current political landscape, affordable and proper food and food choices can be difficult to obtain. Obtaining proper food is not, nor should it be, an individual venture. Being a part of a cooperative is giving service directly back to one's community; it is taking the needs of the community and the co-op members into thorough consideration. Part of that consideration means building services that will not economically burden the community while simultaneously uplifting the community; it is a delicate balance, but not an impossible one. Access to healthy food is imperative for a healthy community, and keeping prices reasonable while safeguarding members from exploitation from private businesses is paramount in this project. In other words, it is utterly invaluable.

3. What aisle can we expect to see you shopping in when our co-op opens?

Truthfully, I will be found in each and every aisle of the co-op. I have my favorite foods, of course, but one thing I love to do is look through the aisles for something new each time I go food shopping. It helps to introduce me to a new culture and to a mini-adventure into someone else's perspective of good food. This often starts conversations mid-aisle about how foods are cooked, stored, and celebrated; to me, that is just plain fun.

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