The enormity of setting up even a humble food co-op at UTS has required enormous effort over many years, not to mention an inter-dimensional journey through bureaucracy, legalities, and rampant insanity.
It all began way back in…well, to be perfectly honest I don’t know for sure which year it was, but it was definitely before 1999. Whoa man, where were we all back then?
The concrete history begins in 1999 when the Environment, Health and Safety division of UTS committed just over $5,000 for sustainable initiatives to the idea of a food co-op at UTS. The money was rubber-stamped, finalised, and…just sat in an unknown bank account for a couple of years.
In 2001 the food co-op received a much needed surge of impetus when a groovy collective sprang out from the flowers and set well and truly to the task. The biggest challenge to the co-op’s existence was the intricate wrangling undertaken with both the UTS Union and the University of Technology itself. After months a position was agreed to and committed to — the co-op could exist with relative autonomy but beneath the overarching hegemony of the Union, a stipulation that the University insisted upon. The Union, once frightened of the prospects of ‘competition’ with other Union outlets, became one of the co-op’s supporters. In addition, the Students’ Association and the Environmental, Health and Safety division of UTS were committed to supporting the co-op. In fact the co-op is the only venture to date that the Union and the Students’ Association have jointly supported! Thus with an agreement with the Union and University agreed upon, the space was refurbished and fitted out with all the funky stuff in there now.
In 2002 the co-op became embroiled in legalities once again — the whole year being more or less entirely consumed by getting the co-op registered with the registry of Co-operatives (a.k.a the department of Fair Trading! Eeek!). By this stage a year’s work had taken its toll on the devoted collective and the momentum diminished. So close, but yet so far….
But lo and behold! In 2003 the Broadway Food co-op is registered and has a new groovin’ collective, comprised of folks both old and new. It has been open for a couple of weeks and, whilst there are still teething problems, it is good to see operational problems being encountered — rather than the problem of not being able to open!
The Broadway Food Co-op’s history has only just begun to unravel, however, and the potential for a glorious epoch of organic goodness at UTS is waiting for us! Come along and get involved!
This post from 2003 or 2004 was found in the Environment Collective’s filing cabinet in the Student Association where their desk is located. We have no author and no idea of just how much wrangling was involved. If you know any of the history, please comment so our curiosity will be sated. On another note, it is very sad to see how bureaucracy can thwart community-building.