1/30/2023: An unexpected grocer

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Monday, January 30, 2023

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Chris Dilley’s influence has helped redefine Kalamazoo’s food landscape. He reflects on his most memorable initiatives as he prepares to move on. Also: Community members urge Kalamazoo Public Schools to educate parents on gun safety. And a state court has halted a minimum wage increase in Michigan.

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‘This is what the community wanted. I helped facilitate it.’

Chris Dilley standing in the produce section of the People's Food Co-op

Chris Dilley was a graphic designer with the heart of an anthropologist when his favorite grocery store, the People’s Food Co-op, asked him to work on their newsletter.

He couldn’t imagine where The Co-op Scoop would lead to 25 years later.

“Yeah, I didn’t think, ‘I’ll lay out the newsletter — then I’m going to re-envision the food landscape in Kalamazoo,’” Dilley, 52, said with a laugh.

“I learned to be a grocer but my passion and what drew me into the job was the food and community connection and the idea of how do we build a local food system that thrives and that supports local farmers and local eaters.”

He’s spent the past 20 years as PFC’s general manager. Next up, he is joining Columinate, a national co-operative consulting firm. He leaves behind not only a co-op store that is five times as big as the one he started volunteering in, but initiatives that include a remodeled and expanded farmer’s market, a thriving organization that helps new food entrepreneurs launch their products, and community work centered around addressing food inequities.

Read what Dilley says it took to grow PCF to what it is today.

KPS urged to support gun safety rules

Community members are urging the Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Education to invest in gun safety education. They especially want students and their parents to get information about proper gun storage – the use of gun locks and methods to keep guns out of the hands of children. Parent Beth Lupe is a volunteer with the Be SMART campaign. She told trustees last week that sending literature to parents would go a long way toward preventing shootings. “Distribute Be SMART information directly to your parents. Send an email home. The number of guns outnumber us, and the odds are also against us,” she said.

Gun violence has become an ever-present threat in the lives of students. Shootings are now the leading cause of death for children in the U.S. The Michigan Board of Education last year issued a statement calling for even more stringent gun control rules, including things like universal background checks, waiting periods, higher age requirements for gun purchases, and penalties for improper storage. Meanwhile, KPS officials say parents will soon be notified of plans to hold lockdown drills in the district to make sure staff and students know what to do should they face the threat of gun violence.

More News You Need To Know

Minimum wage increase blocked by court

An increase in Michigan’s minimum wage that was expected to go into effect in February is on hold after a panel of judges overturned a lower court’s ruling. That earlier ruling found that a legislative move to neuter minimum wage increases was unconstitutional. The Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed, though judges did say the move was “anti-democratic.” Backers of the higher minimum wage say they’re likely to appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.

This all stems from a 2018 ballot initiative and a controversial tactic known as “adopt and amend.” The ballot initiative gained enough signatures to put new minimum wage rules on the ballot. Instead of going to voters, the Republican-led state legislature opted to adopt the measure directly into law. Then they voted to change the details of the law to lessen wage increases. Last year, a judge ruled that unconstitutional. That would have increased Michigan’s minimum wage from $10.10 to $13.03 an hour on Feb. 19. It also would have boosted wages for tipped workers from $3.84 to $11.73. Instead, the minimum wage will remain the same and the court battle will continue. [Bridge Michigan]

Portage residents could get discounted flood insurance

Flood mitigation strategies in the City of Portage could mean more residents will qualify for discounted flood insurance. City leaders were recently informed that its flood rating had improved from a Class 8 to a Class 7 rating in the National Flood Insurance Program community rating system. In a letter, William Lesser, community rating system coordinator with the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, praised the city for actions it had taken. “These savings are a tangible result of the flood mitigation activities your community implements to protect lives and reduce property damage,” he said.

The change means homeowners in a FEMA-designated floodplain area could be eligible for a 15% discount on flood insurance. The city has participated in the National Flood Insurance Program since the 1980s. That allows homeowners to purchase insurance protection against flood damage as long as the community complies with certain standards. Those standards include conducting flood studies and maintaining open space in flood hazard areas. [MLive]

NowKalamazoo Partner Event
Junior CEO Pop-Up Shop for Youth Entrepreneurs
Parent/Kidpreneur workshop (15-20 minutes): How to brand your business on a budget
Free admission to the public
Feb. 4 11am to 1pm
The Space
320 E. Michigan Ave. Suite 101
Sponsored by NowKalamazoo

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

MY IDEA: Bringing Your Vision to Light with author Rod Tucker – Bookbug & this is a bookstore
6:30PM 1/30

ARTbreak: The Chrysalis Institute for Emerging Artists – A Model for BIPOC Creators – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
12:00PM 1/31

Author Talk–with Randall Munroe (virtual) – Kalamazoo Public Library
2:00PM 1/31

Conservation Banquet – Bell’s Eccentric Café
6:00PM 1/31

Kalamazoo Premier Chess Club – Urban Alliance
6:00PM 1/31

Lake Street Dive: Gather Round Sounds Tour – Miller Auditorium
7:00PM 1/31

Introduction to Racial Healing (virtual) – Kalamazoo Public Library
1:30PM 2/1

Books and Beers – The Distant Whistle Brewhouse
5:30PM 2/1

High Blue Sky – O’Duffy’s Pub
6:00PM 2/1

See more upcoming events here.

Suggest something to do: [email protected]

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Ben Lando

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