It takes some courage to present an idea to a business or organization. I was nervous to approach Concordia’s Hive Café Solidarity Cooperative but I tracked down the coordinator at the time (Jessica Cabana) and she made time out of her busy schedule to meet with me.
Jess and I met for the first time at the Hive’s downtown location. It wasn’t too busy that day and we sat at a small table in the café. I introduced myself and explained that I was in Satoshi’s class, interested in launching a social food economy on campus. I gave Jess a rundown of my idea and the background. She loved it! She said that at one time there was talk of starting something similar at the Hive to offer “solidarity food” to community members somehow. At that time I didn’t have a solid name for the initiative. I later decided that I would call it Solidarity Food Movement.
Through my meetings with Jess, I learned a lot about her work on campus and the time she invested in our social food economy. We discussed the details for SFM, everything from what food items are reasonable to offer and what the process would be for folks to buy items for someone to enjoy later. I planned to use cards that could be left at the cash and put up on the Hive’s chalkboard when those items were available. [We started off with that system but ran out of cards! The Hive staff ended up just using the board and I stuck with it moving forward]
Jess and I met a few times to talk through the process of instituting an initiative like this at the Hive. Jess offered to help me write a proposal which would have to be presented to the Hive members. The proposal would have to pass in a vote in order to be implemented at the Hive. Jess and I worked on the google doc for a few weeks and completed it in time for a Hive members meeting. I could not attend that meeting so Jess had to advocate for the proposal. It passed!
We set the launch date for January 2017 (thinking it was too late in the fall to launch something new considering that the Hive closes in the summer).
At this point, I was known on campus primarily for organizing and student leadership related to the First Peoples Studies Program and Indigenous engagement initiatives on campus. I was excited to work on something different but I was also tired of seeing my face everywhere on campus (lots of media and public attention in those days) so I kept the launch quiet. I spread news of it through word-of-mouth but for the most part, people who frequented the Hive took notice and started accessing the program. It took a while at first but it’s going well!
Solidarity Food Movement is not a vanity project or something I did for any reason other than wanting to make a small contribution to an already changing and inspiring social food movement. I call it a ‘movement’ because once you put in motion it just keeps going. I can’t wait to see how/if/when this movement is going to grow!