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Jessica Surma

Owner #1863

Why did you join the Dill Pickle? How have you participated as an owner?

I joined the co-op because I am deeply committed to the sustainable food movement and environmental justice. I try to do all that I can in my personal life to take steps to put my beliefs into action. The coop's values are very much in line with my own, so even though it was a significant investment for me at the time, I knew it was worth it.

I have participated as an owner by regularly shopping at the store and staying informed of coop business. Recently, I have organized a Spanish language meet-up in the community space of the cafe. I choose this space, not only because its convenience, but also to do everything I can to introduce new community members to the space.  

Why do you wish to serve on DPFC Board of Directors?

As a non-profit program manager, I believe I have excellent administrative and organizational skills I could bring to the Co-op Board of Directors. I have sufficient time to be a diligent contributor and someone who would follow-through on projects and commitments.

As a resident of Logan Square since 2013,  I am interested in making deeper ties to my community, and I think this would be a great opportunity to do so.

What perspectives, skills, experiences, or affiliations do you hope to bring to board leadership?

Currently, I manage a program called Chicago FarmWorks at Heartland Alliance where I am a practicing urban farmer and also support our participants in workforce development. I would look forward to contributing my perspective on sustainable food production in the Chicago food-shed and bring connections to Chicago's urban agriculture movement.

Working with participants striving to overcome barriers to employment such as extreme poverty, food insecurity, and homelessness has anchored my commitment to social justice. I would have this perspective at the forefront of carrying out board business and trying to further the values of the co-op.

Over the course of my career in the non-profit sector, I have also built skills in budgeting and financial management, outreach, communications, social media, fundraising, and group facilitation which I think make me a strong candidate for the Board of Directors.

In light of our recent expansion, how might the co-op open its doors wider to prospective new owners and community members?

I would be very interested in working collaboratively with board members and staff to brainstorm ways this could happen. I have a few initial ideas:

First, I think it is important to go out and meet people where they are already gathering. It was great to see the Dill Pickle tabling at the Logan Square Arts Festival. Continuing to do things such as this, as well targeting other community groups the co-op would like to involve, such as presenting at schools, churches, and other meetings could be beneficial.

Additionally, doing outreach which emphasize the different values could connect with new owners and community members. That could take form in lots of ways,  from classes offered in the community space, to greater visibility of the values for the shopper coming into the store.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I am excited to have the opportunity to contribute my time and effort to the co-op and continue to help it be a friendly, community-linked space that will be financially-stable institution in Logan Square for years to come!