John Fieldstrom

Natural Foods Administration

Ever since I became a member-owner of Seward, I’ve thought about running for the board. I have been actively involved in natural food cooperatives, sustainable food system work, and community organizing my entire adult life. In fact, my first job out of undergrad was as the grocery manager for another Twin Cities food co-op, Valley Natural Foods. I continued working at a natural food store to help me pay the bills as I earned a Masters in Social Justice and Community Organizing (I only missed one day of work at that store because I was arrested for civil disobedience at a rally opposing cuts to our social safety net). I now work for the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association, supporting small natural food stores as they compete against corporate giants. In the midst of a world-altering pandemic and much-needed social unrest, I am more convinced than ever that this is the time for all of us to step up and contribute to the health of our community as much as we can. That is what finally moved me to run for the board.

One aspect of leadership that has always been a focus for me, especially when thinking about Cooperative Leadership, is listening. And not just listening, but also internalizing and processing the different views and experiences needed to make a responsible collective decision.

Even during the pandemic, I still visit Seward at least once a week, in part to see how proactive and adaptive the business is to our rapidly-changing world, and I am inspired simply from experiencing what it means to stand with
Seward staff, shoppers, and community through messaging, investments in infrastructure, and art around the stores. I intend to honor that tradition and remain intentional around really hearing Seward’s various stakeholders.

A healthy community is one that is democratic and justice-oriented. Now is not the time for us to stand on the sidelines, watching the world change around us. Our community-owned cooperative ought to continue to engage in the struggle to strengthen its community, and I am ready to use my energy to do just that.