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More Than the Sum of its Parts: There is More to Cambridge Than its Conflicts

By Kathleen Quinn


This article was submitted by a Co-op member. See below for information on submitting your own article, artwork, or photos.


If you’ve been paying attention to local matters, you will know that our community has achieved a level of infamy lately that none of us would have wanted or predicted. Who knew that the story of our wrangling over the school mascot would appear in such far-flung newspapers as The Seattle Times? Or that the reference to Mein Kampf in this year’s school yearbook would result in an op-ed in The Washington Post? Cambridge is now on the proverbial map—and regardless of where you might stand on the issues, I think we might all agree that it would be way better for all of us if Cambridge were on the map for something other than divisive issues.

In all the noise surrounding these issues, it’s easy to forget that there is so much more to Cambridge than the local, regional, and national media would have us believe. We have an abundance of kind and generous residents who would help any one of us in a pinch, no matter our views on the mascot. We have a renowned performing and visual arts community that delights us locals and attracts folks from all over to our beautiful corner of Washington County. We have the beginnings of a community forest that will connect us with the natural beauty of this place and enough local excitement to help make this a reality. We have a gem of a local bookstore which keeps us “fed” with the best of the printed word. And we have a vibrant agricultural economy producing food, fiber, craft beverages, and value-added products; and a delightful farmers market to help get those products out into the world.

Cambridge also has something special in its food co-op, too. The Co-op is one of the smallest in the country, in a small market, and still going strong after more than 40 years. Yes, it’s a grocery store, but it’s so much more than that. In a time when we can’t seem to agree on much, the Co-op is a place where we can agree on some basic truths. Like the fact that it is good for all of us when we buy what we need locally, from local producers, whenever we can. Or that it is good when the profits of a business benefit the community and not just a far away owner. Or that a vibrant Main Street makes life better for all of us. When you join the Co-op, or shop the Co-op, or even just smile at the window art when walking by the Co-op, you are shouting “yes!” to those basic truths. You are joining with others who are also shouting “yes!”. In spite of the noise surrounding our various controversies, in spite of the unfortunate national reputation our community has earned, in spite of hard work in front of us to confront these and so many other issues, our shared truths are something to build on, and something to celebrate.


The Cambridge Food Co-op welcomes articles from its members. Please consider sending us your thoughts, stories, and ideas related to food, community, co-ops, cooperation, the local food movement, and more. Please note, not every submission will be printed, but we will try our best to highlight what our members have to say! Send content to:


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