While the majority of students live on-campus or in off-campus student rentals, a group of Geneseo students are exploring an alternative option: a co-op. The Genesee Valley Cooperative hosted its first community dinner of the year on Oct. 2, uniting community members and Geneseo students alike. “A co-op is basically a type of business model that places emphasis on ownership and involvement for everyone involved,” senior co-op member Tom Silva said.
The GVC, is a student-run system that is not affiliated with the college’s Student Association.
In a co-op, everyone is a “member owner,” meaning that each member has a certain amount of ownership in the property the group is living in. Eight students live in the co-op house and there is a schedule delegating responsibilities like cooking and cleaning.
“When you live in a co-op, you don’t answer to a landlord. There’s more freedom and you save money, but there’s also a lot more work in maintaining the property,” Silva said.
Most co-ops follow a set of guidelines called the “Rochdale Rules.” “We’re mainly focusing on the last rule: concern for community,” Silva said.
In accordance with this ideal, the GVC co-op hosts community dinners, the first of which was on Oct. 2.
“We hosted four smaller ones last year, but this year we received a $5,000 grant from the Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Development from the school,” Silva said. “We have a lot more funding to work with.”
Silva explained that a lot of planning went into this event, with all members of the co-op taking the lead on a particular dish and preparing it with aid from students and community members who arrived early to the dinner. In return, these individuals received the meal for a discounted price.
The ingredients for the meal––salad, couscous, ratatouille and apple crisp––were obtained locally from the Geneseo Farmer’s Market as well as Groveland and Pleasantview Farms.
With over 90 people in attendance at the Central Presbyterian Church rented out by the co-op, it seems as though this goal was met.
“We want to connect students to the town and surrounding areas,” Silva said. “Living in a college town, the population is so transient. We want to find a way to establish lasting connections and friendly interactions between students and community members.”