Celebrating Greenbelt’s Co-ops
Greenbelt is known for its cooperatives. Some of these started shortly after the town was founded such as the Greenbelt News Review (then called the Cooperator) and the Greenbelt Federal Credit Union. Others were formed as needs arose such as Greenbelt Homes, Inc. (then called Greenbelt Veterans Housing Corporation) which came into being when the federal government decided to sell the town. There have also been changes and even rebirth, such as in 1984, a new cooperative, the Greenbelt Consumer Cooperative, purchased the supermarket and pharmacy from an older entity. The United Nations has declared 2012 as the International Year of the Cooperatives, and last Sunday the Greenbelt Cooperative Alliance hosted a celebration at Roosevelt Center.
The Greenbelt Cooperative Alliance’s banner hangs at Roosevelt Center in front of the Co-op Supermarket. It says: “Celebrating Co-ops: Building a Better Greenbelt Since 1937.” Of course, the town color, green, is used for the banner.
Kevin Skolnik leads a sing along on stage in front of Lenore Thomas’s Mother and Child statue.
Skolnik leads the singing of “co-op songs” with lyrics by Cathy Statz, Education Director, Wisconsin Farmers Union. The songs have titles like “Take Me Out To The Co-op,” “If I Had A Co-op,” “Let Us Cooperate,” “Cooperation Is The Way,” “Oh, What A Beautiful Co-op,” and “Hymn To Co-op,” and many of these were written for the annual meetings of Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives (WFC) and Minnesota Association of Cooperatives (MAC). The lyrics are set to popular tunes such as “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” “If I Had A Hammer,” and “God Bless America.”
Dorian Winterfeld (left) and Amethyst Dwyer sing along.
Hymn To Co-op
Co-op, Co-op, we adore thee-
Not for profit based in greed,
Not for charity, though noble,
But to serve the members’ need.
As our nation looks to the future,
How do we shape democracy?
We can tell you—we have found it:
Marilyn Maryn Spiegel has brought this photo of her mother Bertha Maryn (front row, second from left) with the Board of Directors in 1940.
Eldon Ralph checks out the Co-op’s table.
Kim Rush Lynch (left) of Greenbelt Co-op hands out “co-opsicles” to Rowan (3, center) and Dermot (6, right) Kelly.
On stage, City Councilmember Leta Mach reads out bingo numbers as her husband Darrell Mach keeps record. Leta Mach has been involved in many co-ops in the city and worked from 1987 to 2003 as director of communications and cooperative education for National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA).
On the right is Councilmember Konrad Herling.
Elaine Jones (right) has the first bingo, and here Sylvia Lewis checks her numbers against the official record.
Elaine Jones shows one of the prizes she has just won—a polo shirt with the Greenbelt Co-op’s logo.
From left are Gretchen Overdurff, GHI’s former general manager, Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan, and Altoria Bell Ross who is on the board of the Greenbelt News Review.
Mayor Davis looks at her bingo sheet.
Maia Tooley’s bingo sheet is checked over by Sylvia Lewis, Leta and Darrell Mach.
Sylvia Lewis tells Maia Tooley to pick any prize bag.
Terri Rutledge and Maia Tooley sit at the New Deal Café’s table. Rutledge is the Café’s general manager.
For many years, Greenbelt residents wanted their neighborhood coffee house, and finally on December 30, 1995, the New Deal Café opened inside the Greenbelt Community Center. It opened on Friday and Saturday nights and was staffed by volunteers. In 2000, the café moved to Roosevelt Center and became a full-time venture. Now the New Deal Café is a thriving business and features Lebanese food, art exhibits, and an active calendar of live entertainment six nights a week.
Cary Coppock chats with Terri Rutledge in front of the New Deal Café table.
Chef Karim Kmaiha of the New Deal Café enjoys a snack outside the café.
Cynthia Comproni, general manager of the Greenbelt Federal Credit Union, sits at a table in front of the credit union’s entrance.
The Greenbelt Federal Credit Union’s charter was issued on December 13, 1937. It was the first financial institution in Greenbelt. Joseph D. Comproni, a Greenbelt pioneer, was one of its organizers and later became its first full-time manager. In 1985, Cynthia Comproni succeeded her father-in-law as general manager. Today the cooperative has more than 3,400 members and an asset over $19 million.
Joyce (left) and George Krieger work on their bingo games.
From left, Sandra Lange, Carol Griffith, and Marat Moore represent the Greenbelt News Review.
The weekly Greenbelt News Review published its first issue (then called the Greenbelt Cooperator) on November 24, 1937, shortly after the first residents moved into the brand-new city, and has not missed an issue in the 75 years that followed. It is Greenbelt’s newspaper of record and has been a major uniting force in the city.
Filling out the News Review surveys
Kristi Fletcher (left) is the chair of GHI’s Communications Committee and Sheri Swaim is Special Assistant to the GHI Management Office and Communications Coordinator.
GHI’s predecessor, Greenbelt Veterans Housing Corporation, purchased the original 1,600 townhomes from the federal government in 1952. Like some of Greenbelt’s other co-ops, GHI is run by an elected Board of Directors which sets policy and a general manager (currently Eldon Ralph) who oversees day-to-day operations. Members pay a monthly co-op fee which is used to maintain the houses and grounds.
The Greenbelt 75th Anniversary Committee also has a table with a variety of commemorative items for sale including tiles, books, posters, cups, and book bags. Sitting behind the table are the committee’s two co-chairs: Dave Mills and Carol Malveaux.
Christine Doran (left) and Jaky Lilly represent Greenbelt Nursery School. Both are Nursery School parents and Doran is on the board.
Greenbelt Nursery School serves children between 2 and 4. Founded in 1942, the school was initially housed in the basement of an apartment at 14 Parkway, later moved to the Community Church, and now is at the lower level of the Greenbelt Community Center.
There is also a table where people can give their opinions about a new cooperative in Greenbelt. The sign says: “Greenbelt Cooperative Survey. Announcing an exciting new opportunity to help establish Greenbelt’s newest Cooperative! A group of Greenbelters have gotten together to form a new Cooperative; an actual business with revenue and employees. So far, we have agreed that we would prefer a worker-owned model and that we would like the business to use ‘sustainable’ practices. What will this new Cooperative business do? We don’t know.. yet, but you can be part of the decision. What do you say? Please take a few minutes to let us know. Fill out the 3-question survey and be part of modern Greenbelt history.” Behind the table is Jane Young.
Lively conversations full of hand gestures
Dan Krieger (left) wins a shredder from Cynthia Comproni, general manager of Greenbelt Federal Credit Union, as Sylvia Lewis, a coordinator of today’s event, announces the raffle result.
Sylvia Lewis, a former GHI board president, and Dorrie Bates, a former Co-op board president
Eric (11, front left) and Evan (10, front right) Moreno enjoy “co-opsicles” as grandparents Joyce and George Krieger and father Dan Krieger (holding a shredder he won from today’s raffle) look from behind.
Sylvia Lewis (right) and NCBA’s Andrea Cumpston. NCBA’s offices are in Washington, D.C.
Folding up the tent takes cooperative effort as well.
Read more about Greenbelt’s co-ops:
GHI: Annual Meeting Part 1 and Part 2
Greenbelt Consumer Co-op: Annual Meeting
Greenbelt Federal Credit Union: Shredding Day
Greenbelt News Review: Tuesday Night and Retirement Luncheon
Greenbelt Nursery School: Annual 5K
New Deal Café: Annual Meeting
Each co-op will hold more events in October for the annual Co-op Month; for example, GHI will have a member picnic and the Credit Union will host a community shredding day.