I first heard about the strike at Stop & Shop a couple of days ago. To be honest, the impact of how it was going to affect me didn't really hit me until I was putting my grocery list together for the upcoming week.
As I put together my list I was able to picture exactly which aisles I would need to travel down to find what I was looking for. That's the benefit of having a local store. It's comfortable, it's always there for you, and it feels like home. Even seeing the familiar face of an employee makes your day just that little bit better. Sometimes they even become your friend and are always available to chat and catch up on each other's families (Hi Belinda!).
But we have to remember that sometimes our local and friendly grocery store is part of a larger corporation and as we know, corporations aren't without problems. The purpose of corporations is to make money and to increase the net worth of their shareholders. Even the managing director can be sued by the shareholders if they think the director(s) haven't acted in their company's best interest.
The power of the corporation seems to be boundless. They hold all of the rights of the citizens, but they bear non of the citizenship's obligations. Robert Hinkley goes on to explain that this may make them strong citizens, but it does not necessarily make them good citizens.
Corporations can only operate with the support of the people that work for them. Employees have to do what the managers say, managers have to do what the directors says, directors have to do what the officers says, the officers have to do what the board of directors says, and the board of directors have to do what the stakeholders and shareholders says. But what happens when a cog in the wheel stops? What happens when someone says "No" and when they become transformative citizens?
The system stops functioning.
I decided to visit my local Framingham Stop & Shop to talk to the employees that were on strike. I spoke with Stop & Shop employee, Celine Blaisdell, who was leading the group.
Click on the link below to hear the full interview:
I asked Celine to talk about why the employees were on strike and what they are trying to achieve.
Blaisdell went on to say that they were striking to fight to maintain their benefits, mostly their healthcare, their pensions, and their vacations. They are also looking for a reasonable and yet modest pay raise.
Ahold Delhaize, the parent company of Stop & Shop, reported good earnings last year but still plans on cutting back on healthcare benefits, according to Blaisdell who also explained, "We are the reason they are so successful."
I asked Blaisdell what they are looking for customers to do while the strike was ongoing. She replied that they are looking for customers not to shop at Stop & Shop and not to shop at Hannafords (they are part of Ahold Delhaize) until the workers are able to get a fair contract.
What else can we do as customers and consumers, other than not shop at Stop & Shop? I say let's push corporations, the government and fellow citizens to seriously consider Robert Hinkley's "Code for Corporate Citizenship" so we that we create a society who's foundation is just and equitable.
Code for Corporate Citizenship
Like I first mentioned, I didn't truly feel the impact of the Stop & Shop strike until I was putting together my grocery list. But why was that? Why did I have to wait until it impacted me to care? This situation has taught me that I need to extend my circle of compassion a little bit more. I'm going to try to do a better job at lending my support to those that need it, without waiting to consider "what's in it for me."
So until the Stop & Shop employees receive fair wages and benefits, our family will need to find a new grocery store to go to. However, I do look forward to the day where I can go back to my local Framingham Stop & Shop where it feels like home and where I'm surrounded by family.
Keep up the good fight!
Banks, J. A. (2008). Diversity,Group Identity, and Citizenship Education in a Global Age. Educational Researcher, 37(3), 129-139. doi:10.3102/0013189X08317501
Hinkley, R. C. (2011). Time to change corporations: Closing the citizenship gap.
The Earth Protector Story
It was a cold February evening and I was sitting at my desk preparing for an assignment for my Culture & Change class. We had just read the book, Creating a World That Works For All by Sharif Abdullah and I felt like I could fly. Yes, I wanted to create a world that worked for all!
If you know me at all you know that I have about a million ideas a minute of how to change the world. Most people just roll their eyes or say, "That's just Abby," when I go on about my next big idea. I get it, I can seem a bit pie in the sky sometimes.
It wasn't until I started my Master's program in Humane Education that I felt confident enough to try some of my ideas. The program has taught me so much about the world, about animals, and about people; that I want to share it with as many people as possible. I even try and include my son with what I'm learning. It's a great way to spend time together but also a wonderful opportunity to teach him how to lead a more compassionate life. I do this by showing and modeling as opposed to telling and instructing.
James has helped me collect donations for refugee's for the Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights and even attended the "Big E" to witness how we use animals for entertainment.
Including James in this part of my life has been wonderful. It's also allowed me to become a Solutionary Parent. Solutionary parenting is parenting in a way that invites our children to be part of the solution. It is about helping them cultivate a love for our environment, the animals, and other people; so that they can be the next generation of changemakers that will design a world that works for all.
When I look at James I see so much of myself in him. He has a passion for life and incredible inner strength. So when James came to me that February evening and said that he wanted to do something to change the world, without any hesitation I said, "let's do it!"
My goal as a parent is to support his natural love and curiosity for life. I believe this can be the catalyst for social change. This will not just help form him into being a kind and compassionate child, but also what can help make him into a great citizen of the world.
I told James to sketch out some ideas and think about what his/our goal(s) were. He wanted to protect the world and the animals and the people in it so I said, why don't we be,"The Earth Protectors!" And that's just what we became.
When you have an idea, taking the first step is always the hardest. We often feel that we need to have the perfect plan in place before we can act, but that simply is just a self-imposed delay in disguise.
We could go through life having a million ideas but not doing any of them. Starting "The Earth Protectors" was a wonderful way to show James that his ideas are valuable, that children can make a difference, and that change happens when someone decides to do something.
The Earth Protectors is not an exclusive group and there are no memberships. It is simply a way of life that creates a path to compassion. It is open to any and all; no matter who you are or where you live. All are welcome.
Our compassion extends to the protection of the environment, to other people, and to the animals. We are the protectors of all that inhabit the Earth.
If you or your child has an idea of how to change the world, please don't just let it pass you by. Take the first step and see where it takes you. It may be the best journey that you ever go on.