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Co-op Community | Fall Quarterly 2022

Business Sense: Resiliency in the Time of COVID

Featured Community Article

Co-op Member

The following article was submitted by a local Co-op Community Member and has not been edited for content. The views expressed within 
do not necessarily reflect those of North Coast Co-op. If you would like to contribute an article, please email coopnews@northcoast.coop for 
more information. 

Collectively, we have endured and experienced much during the last two, almost three years now. We carry upon our psyche a shared trauma that has included financial hardship, shortages of product essential to our daily lives, disruption of industries across the board, and worst of all, the deaths of many around us. Yet, we endure. We pivot, we adapt, we create and redirect our energies to keep things moving in a way that is more familiar with each passing day.

One of the things Humboldt has always done well is to support our local economies of trade, of industry, of resources. I feel personally blessed to call the Co-op home as we have endured as an entity, as a community cornerstone, and as a creative and collaborative force here for nigh on 50 years! We have endured with you and found ways to minimize the supply chain and labor shortages that have affected larger multi-state and national businesses. Well, “found” is a strong word. With locally-based independents like the North Coast Co-op, Wildberries, Eureka Natural Foods, Murphy’s, Chatauqua Natural Foods, and others; we operate in ways that have allowed more flexibility when it comes to sourcing food and sundries for our communities.

While we do deal with some of the same larger distributors as chain stores based outside of our communities, we can adapt by purchasing from smaller regional and local distributors and dealing directly with vendors, producers, and farmers in our daily operations. Many of us lend great degrees of importance to buying and selling local, and aside from being flexible, therein lies one of the more important keys to regional and local resiliency in challenging times and emergencies.

Buying local can mean many things. It can mean that you choose to shop at one of the grocers I listed previously. It can mean that you go to farmer’s markets and craft fairs to purchase local produce and goods made in Humboldt. Perhaps, for you, “local” means Humboldt, Del Norte, and Trinity; or maybe you put California first, and that is what local means to you. Whatever your definition, that is where one of the key facets of community resiliency is based.

By spending your earnings locally, that money goes towards employing local workers, paying local utilities where available, outsourcing repairs to local specialists. By putting an emphasis on local resources as a retailer, it puts your money via our checkbook towards even more local labor, local farms, local truck drivers, etc. These are conscious decisions we make as individuals, as businesses, and as a community.

When it comes to food, putting your money where your mouth is translates quite literally, and feeds not only you, but those who you just purchased from, those who brought the food to those stores for you, those who made or grew the food that was brought to the stores for you. There is an entire unseen chain that links the food on your table to those around you, and the stronger and tighter that chain, the less we feel the shortages brought about by COVID and any other challenges to come.

There are many in Humboldt working individually and collectively to build a gareater network of resources to be prepared to respond and keep our communities uplifted in times like these. When we speak of a “new normal,” I hope that others will keep these things in mind, for resiliency is not response. Resiliency is preparedness in action through our daily lives and choices, and we all play a part.

Emiliano “Emi” Lee (They/Them) is the Arcata Store Manager for the North Coast Coop, a Voting Member of the Humboldt Food Policy Council, and Board Member of the American Cheese Society. You can contact them at emilee@northcoast.coop

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