Diaspora and Diversity

By Mercedes Redmon,

GreenStar Staff

11-06-mercedes-redmonToday I am on the hunt for something that speaks to my ethnicity. Something to recharge my roots, if you will, and I'm not talking about the Musical sensation! Something in Ithaca that reminds me of where I come from, a remembrance to take pride in.

The undertaking brought me to Diaspora Gallery on The Commons, an Afrocentric store that holds a rich variety of paintings, housing decor, oils, soaps and so on. I got to chatting with the owner, Eldred Harris, a friendly tall drink of water who was more than happy to answer some questions for this inquiring mind.

MR: How long has the store been here?

EH: This location, since March of '08.

MR: What different countries do the items in the store come from?

EH: We travel regularly to Guinea and Ethiopia, but the items come from all over Africa, really. Even South America and India.

MR: So it's not only African influences in the store but from other countries as well?

EH: Oh, absolutely.

MR: Would you say a diversely mixed group of people come into Diaspora?

EH: The clientele is as global as our products; we get tourists who travel from all over, not only the parents of students but the students as well, and of course the locals.

MR: OK, and what does Diversity mean to you?

EH: What does Diversity mean to me? It means not having to say it.

Well played, Mr. Harris, well played! The word diversity can bring up such rehearsed and generic answers, but that was the one! As we chatted more about things of an African nature, a handsome Caucasian family came in and, while the parents took a shine to the lamps made of animal hide, the children dispersed and each found an instrument of their liking then proceeded to go to town. The shop filled with the sporadic beats of children experimenting.

"Looks like you have a band there!" Eldred said, smiling at the children.

"Oh, I hope you don't mind!" The father replied with lamp in hand.

"Not at all, the store is very music friendly..."

I poked around some earth-toned beads for a moment and then realized what Diversity means to me. It means welcomed tolerance, with the room to educate those hungry for knowledge of things they may not understand. As I retrieved my bike from the end of The Commons, I smiled to myself and felt the guidance of my culture trailing behind me, strong and recharged.

Council News

  • 04.10.15

    By Dan Hoffman,
Council Member

    2013 Dan Hoffman12th Moon, Kristen Kaplan, Eric Banford, Susan Beckley, Jessica Rossi and Mark Darling finished the counting in just under four hours.

    412 Total valid envelopes

    21 total invalid = 19- no ID, 1- first of two ballots, 1- no ballot in envelope

    Also = 1- name tag, 5- 2 cent slips, 1- Member Labor Request and two wooden nickles.

    Two thirds vote required to pass.

    Q#1 = PASS

    361 YES

    12 NO

    Q#2 = FAIL

    222 YES

    147 NO

    Q#3 = PASS

    311 Yes

    61 No

    Q#4 = PASS

    331 Yes

    22 NO

    Q#5 = PASS

    340 YES

    30 NO

    Q#6 = PASS

    366 YES

    7 NO

    member-owners are the only ones who have the power to change the Co-op's bylaws, the organization's most basic and important document. There is an opportunity to do so (or not) during this month — at the Fall Member Meeting, at the stores, or by mail.

    GreenStar's Council has established an ad hoc Bylaws Review Committee, which started meeting again earlier this year, after being inactive for at least two years. Council had referred a couple of issues to the committee, which identified several more on its own. In August, Council voted (unanimously, except in the case of #2, below) to send the committee's six recommended bylaws amendments to the membership for a YES or NO vote on each of the following questions:

    1. Should the Co-op be allowed to use a withdrawing member's refundable equity contribution [which could be up to $90] to pay off any outstanding debt the member has to the Co-op (such as for bad checks)?

    2. Should all Council candidates and members be required to satisfy any requirements associated with operational licenses maintained or sought by the Co-op (such as to sell or serve alcohol)?

    3. Should Council be allowed to conduct closed executive sessions for two additional topics — possible litigation or contract negotiations?

    4. Should the composition of Council's Immediacies Committee be changed to match that described in Council policy, and that of the Executive Planning Committee?

    5. Should the use of gender-specific pronouns (such as "he" or "she") be eliminated in the bylaws?

    6. Should three "clerical errors" made when the bylaws were amended in 2010 be officially corrected?

    Much more information on the proposed amendments, including detailed explanations, pro and con statements and voting instructions, are available in the Fall Member Mailing, which all current members should receive in the mail by October 6. Members can vote up until close of business on Oct. 31 at either store, by mailing in the ballot from the Mailing, or in person at the Fall Member Meeting, on Friday, Oct. 16, at the Space.



Current Job Postings

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Membership Manager

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    The morning after our Fall Member Meeting, I'm entranced by the experience of last night. I realize how far GreenStar has come over the years, and how integral and essential a partner we are in the wider regional food movement before us. Our roots as a buying club and grain store have matured into a multimillion-dollar community-ba...



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