NCGA Video Blog: What do you do when your story hits a wall?

Michael recaps some tips and strategies from the NCGA Conference.

  • What happens when your story hits a wall?
  • Why you have to re-examine the bigger story?
  • Where to look for that story (hint…focus on what’s missing from the conversation)?

Michael recently delivered a keynote at the National Grocers Cooperative Association conference, a leading association of 119 local grocery coops across the country.

Since the Co-op movement (jointly owned commercial enterprise usually organized by farmers or consumers) began in the late 1950′s, the story of whole, natural, organic foods has taken off! Thanks to Whole Foods Market and others, the movement’s gone mainstream. Which means local neighborhood grocery co-ops are no longer the only game in town. So how can they reclaim distinction around their brand story? The answer lies at the heart of the larger Co-op movement:

Tell the economic story of food.

Not the angry – “capitalism sucks story.” Remember, detractors already misperceived co-ops to be some “pinko commie” nonsense. Instead tell the co-ownership, co-creation, collaboration story of the Co-op movement, which has renewed relevance in today’s techno-driven global culture. People want to be a part of something larger then themselves. People want to know where stuff comes from. People want to feel more connected to their food and community. Therein lies a huge opportunity and redemptive living mythos of the grocery co-op movement.

If you’re interested, you can check out the slides of the presentation here:

Share your comments below:

I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic and continue the discussion below. Where have you hit a wall in your own story (whether that’s food co-op related or not).


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  • Elizabeth

    We are an agency that serves ‘seniors.’  We have hit a wall.

    The word/concept, of ‘senior’ came into being during the aging of the Matures (WW II generation) and is no longer relevant or appealing to today’s aging adults.  The Boomer generation refuses to identify themselves as ‘seniors’ (look at the cover shots, articles and profiles of and about seniors on the AARP magazine to understand this fully).  So the story of seniors — as a group who are retired, have time and $$ to spend, who will age independently, etc. — is, particularly in today’s economic forecast, rapidly disappearing. 

    Boomers, being beneficiaries of better technology, health, wealth, and more, are destined to live longer lives and to spend more of their years contributing to the whole.  Stats show they will not be disconnecting any time soon.  Their future vision, however, has been eroded by socio-economic waves of change, and the economic collapse of this country’s Boomer-based taxation, as well as the generation’s wealth accumulating activity is falling away faster than anyone could have anticipated. 

    The wall, as I see it, is that our agency’s need/mission is to serve a group of people who are defined by an  concept that belongs to another generation.  Yet, the issues of older adult life are still real and people still need help with them.  They are the detrimental effects of isolation, health preservation, downsizing/offloading the burdens of ownership, remaining contributory, passing the power baton, etc.

    I wonder if ‘connection’ is our new relevancy?
    Elizabeth
    Senior Services of Island County

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neil-Hilton/519973348 Neil Hilton

    I found your video very interesting and informative as I look around the for inspiration in my forthcoming blog =P I also have a strong desire to learn more about co-ops. I doubt they have any here in Las Vegas, I can’t imagine where they would be growing the stuff lol, but who knows =-P
    I have heard about co-ops before, of course, but you really hit home with being connected to the land and the people producing that food. Thank you for your time!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremy-Cassidy/633280070 Jeremy Cassidy

    I’m a co-secretary in my local residents association in London, England. There are people from all over the world living in the area, but only white middle class people really intereact with it. The story we tell is that we are just ordinary people trying to make our area a better place to live. We have started improving the run down parts of the area, by planting flowers and trees. Plans to carry out major works are getting under way.
    So … we are moving from … hey let’s get together and do something ->> to hey look what we can do by working together.
    So my question… emm, how practical to make the message, how inspirational, how aspirational, how esoteric?
    Here’s our website: http://fara.wikispaces.com/

    Talking about Co-operatives and the relationship between Land and Food… this British movement with magazine suggest that it is ALL about land, access to land, and not about access to markets as we are being told. Check their site for articles on this and other interesting topics: http://www.thelandmagazine.org.uk/