Deborah Massell

Deborah Massell


Position: Board Member

I’ve been a proud Co-op member since 2000. I found the Co-op the week I was interviewing for the job I still hold at the Crane School of Music.

I have been on the Board of the Co-op for the last year as a short-term replacement, as well as on the Outreach and Fundraising Committees. Before that, I volunteered as a working member many times, but most often it was my husband, Jackson, who could be found working on the stone wall and seating area next to the Co-op, repairing the parking area after a hard winter, setting up the plant tables and watering system every spring, and working in the Bakery. He did anything and everything the Co-op needed. His stroke in July of 2017 and the subsequent loss of his physical presence in Potsdam was felt keenly by me of course, but also by many of the community projects we worked on together with his “can-do” spirit. Luckily, he is still a reliable resource for advice and loves all the food I bring him from the Co-op!

Our Co-op needs continual input and energy from as many of us in the community as possible. It is a true community institution, seeking to deliver the best, most healthy local food. Our food travels the least distance and comes from the land we live on, that we can watch cultivated by our neighbors and our friends. That passion for locally grown plants is what drives me to support our Co-op in any way it might need.

I am a teacher and a performer. I love helping individuals and our community grow, and cooking up local projects. In 2008, I brought the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD to the Potsdam Roxy Theater and introduced hundreds and hundreds of North Country residents to the phenomenon of opera. In 2012, we rescued a dash-into-the-street kind of dog, and after four years of fundraising, forest-clearing, and fencing, we finally opened the gates to the Potsdam Community Dog Park. Both projects took an understanding and galvanizing of our community resources and an ability to help negotiate with long-standing institutions.

From the moment we came into town, the staff we met at the Co-op, the food we found, and the way the whole place lifted our spirits at the beginning or end of a long day was strong motivation to be a part of something that was so embedded in the community. It’s a personal place where staff and shoppers know each other’s names and care about each other’s lives. The Co-op is the place I go shopping for the freshest fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, as well as the most diverse selection of vegan-friendly packaged foods in the entire North Country. Our Co-op is a place of community, a place for us to have a say in what and how we eat.

I want to help our Co-op to expand, to reach more people in order to provide a venue for learning and distributing the best our food system can provide. We can become a teaching institution with a focus on health and well-being. We can host wellness and cooking classes, tastings, and joint ventures with other food and beverage producers. We can be the hub of local and organic food in the North Country, and we can answer to the people of the North Country with all of our personal attention and expertise.

And since my husband is now disabled, I have a personal stake in making our Co-op more user-friendly, and easier to access and navigate. We need to become a welcoming site for everyone, no matter their physical capacity. I think the Co-op needs to be a place for anyone and everyone to shop, to cultivate understanding and knowledge. Diversity in all its many forms is our richness and we need to be at the center of promoting that with open doors.

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