Why did you join the Dill Pickle?
Hi Everyone! My name is Tatum Evans. I am a proud owner of the Dill Pickle Food Co-op. I am not just an owner and shopper. I also serve as a cashier, and, with your vote, I will also serve on the Dill Pickle Board. For me, being part of a co-op in any capacity is a responsibility. Our duty to serve the Pickle community is right there in the name: cooperative. Being an owner of the Pickle is one way I live a commitment to environmental and agricultural sustainability. I also believe in supporting our local economy by keeping dollars local. I had belonged to one Co-op in the past while living in Austin, TX. On visits to Chicago, I started shopping at the Pickle at its Fullerton location. After I moved to the Avondale neighborhood, becoming an owner was the natural next step.
How have you participated as an owner?
As an owner, 90% of my food dollars are spent at the Pickle. I bring family and friends here —whether they are local or out-of-towners—to shop and eat! In January, I organized the Dill Pickle’s representation at Soup & Bread 2019, a community meal located at the Hideout, that raises money for Chicago non-profits focused on food security and hunger relief. In May 2019, I organized Chef Abra Berens’ cookbook signing and lecture at the Pickle, where I also prepared local, seasonal snacks for attendees. As both an employee and an owner, I have attended meetings of the board. Over time, I have gotten to know many of our current board members and have communicated with them on various issues, offering opinions and suggestions.
As a Dill Pickle employee, I served on the General Manager Search Committee, and, every week, I am fortunate to engage with numerous current and potential owners. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with those who come through my register: it’s a chance to talk about the importance and evolution of the Pickle, food systems, advocacy, recipes, and what’s going on in our lives and neighborhood.
Why do you wish to serve on DPFC Board of Directors?
I am committed to the Pickle community and its values. I care about the co-op, and I care about the people it brings together around shared values. I am already an employee and an owner, and, now, I ask to share the responsibility for leading the Pickle into the future by governing in a fair, competent, and sustainable manner. I want continued success for our entire community: owners, employees, local vendors, and our fellow neighborhood businesses. As a board member, I plan to support the Pickle’s growth and evolution. With my skill set and a commitment to our values and mission, I will grow ownership, build community and help get us to financial sustainability.
What perspectives, skills, experiences, or affiliations do you hope to bring to board leadership?
I have significant skills and experiences that will serve the Dill Pickle board and our community well. For the last fifteen years (my entire professional life!), I have been involved in food systems and building communities.
I managed the Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans and was recruited to develop and run Pearl Farmers Market in San Antonio for eight years. It's now the city’s largest, year round market and the most profitable market vendors attend in Central Texas. I worked on food issues in Austin and throughout Texas, managed a diverse farm in Jamaica, and helped develop a CSA farm in Wisconsin. In the process of all my experiences supporting food systems, I collaborated with boards, local government officials, media, and community members.
As a Pickle employee, I offer an operational perspective to the board. On a weekly basis, I interact with hundreds of shoppers and review financial statements. I have also volunteered for Pickle Nickel recipients such as The Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Nature’s Farm Camp.
I’m passionate about food because it offers solutions and brings people together. How we farm, where we shop, and what we eat can nourish ourselves, while helping solve climate change, restore nature, and build resilient economies.
how might the co-op open its doors wider to prospective new owners and community members?
Growing ownership is about authentically building community, being transparent, and offering multiple reasons to gather with one another. Whether it’s an excellent hot bar, in store live music, or unique product selection, potential owners need reasons to feel welcomed, connected and to keep coming back to the Pickle. Once a connection is made, understanding why and how the Pickle is different will drive investment toward fulfilling our mission. One way for potential owners to start feeling connected is by highlighting current owners. This could be done throughout the store and on social media. It’s a way for perspective owners to identify with the Pickle community and why people become owners in the first place. I also think owner engagement should extend beyond conversation to organized community events, farm tours, and more appreciation days. New shoppers enter the store every day and/or have just moved to the neighborhood. I think the Pickle ought to be on people’s radar and I’d like to help make that happen.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I appreciate you for taking the time to get to know me, Tatum Evans, and the other candidates. Thank you for participating in our co-op’s democracy by electing new board members. I am a Midwesterner at heart. Born and raised in Wisconsin, I spent years away from ‘home’ after high school. I graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA then worked/lived in Washington DC, New Orleans, Jamaica, England, Austin, and San Antonio. With the continued decline of my father’s health, my heart brought me back home to Wisconsin, then here, to the Avdondale neighborhood. When I’m not working, shopping, or hanging out at the Pickle, I visit my folks in Wisconsin, sell flowers at the Logan Square Farmers Market, or cook with seasonal ingredients. You’ll also find me walking my pup, learning from farmers through farm visits, picnicking at Palmer Park, and exploring natural landscapes through camping, kayaking, and hiking. I look forward to getting to know more owners, to recruiting new owners and to working on behalf of y’all in pushing forward the Pickle’s mission. Thank you for your time and vote. See you at the Pickle!