Reflections on the value of membership in Three Rivers Market…
When I first moved to Knoxville in 2011, Three Rivers Market (TRM) was just taking up residence in its new location here on Central Avenue. At that time, the co-op had just navigated the challenges of moving the store to a new, larger location. By strategically growing our cooperative we invest in our core values including building the community and strengthening the local economy. I remember taking my Dad, who lives out of town, to my first TRM annual meeting in 2012. Jacki and her staff were sharing plans for shrubs and flowers that would line the parking lot. When we returned the to the co-op later that week, my Dad remarked, Jill, how are they going to get any flowers to grow here? I admitted the hardscrabble and concrete seemed rather daunting.
Eager to be a part of the Knoxville community, I ran for the TRM board shortly after my move. While we see the cooperative principles at work every time we walk into TRM, serving on the board gives a ‘look under the hood’ at how our policies and the vision of our members ensure that TRM remains a force for inspiration and empowerment in our community. It was a whirlwind watching TRM blossom at its new location and I was proud to share in that growth. Whether you’ve been in Knoxville for a few months or a lifetime, you can attest that Knoxville is changing and growing city, seemingly overnight, every night.
Returning to the board to fulfill a term this summer has been a reminder of why I value my TRM membership and how important being an active member is. Member engagement is the key to a healthy, successful and vibrant co-operative. Being a co-owner at Three Rivers means that I am a part of Knoxville’s growth. My ownership in TRM is rewarding because together we prove that our shared values of equality, equity and solidarity are a successful business model. That resilience, healthy food and a healthy and sustainable environment are reasonable expectations for your grocery store. Membership demonstrates our community’s commitment to our health and our future.
Today, as I left TRM, I was distracted by an adorable bee getting its nectar in the lush and colorful collection of native flowers that border and decorate the parking lot of our community co-op, Three Rivers Market.
Jill Mikucki, Director, Three Rivers Market Board