Grace & Groceries 4: But should we really give up on competition?

THIS WEEK, our guest writer is Lynne Meredith Schreiber, a community innovator
whose stories describe a feeding program that may interest you wherever
you live. (Read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.)

BY THE GRACE OF A GROCER, Part 4
By Lynne Meredith Schreiber

4 Suspicious neighbor peeking out Where do we go from here as Americans? We’re humbled. Millions are hurting. Yesterday, we talked about the potential of cooperation—but I also want to stick up for the American value of competition, as well.
    Among the many initiatives and innovations we are launching to set Hiller’s apart from the rest, I may offer entrepreneurship classes, free-of-charge and open to the community, to teach others how to build a program to help those in need.
    I’m envisioning a binder of steps and information to explain our Grace Groceries-Mitzvah Meals trajectory and give our corporate blessing for other congregations to reach out even to Hiller’s competitors in an effort to spread the wealth, and the dearth. Hiller embraced the idea. I offered my time. For we are only worth as much as our reach and in a challenged economy, that reach is closer than we think.
    We are going to offer classes in entrepreneurship, Jim Hiller told someone the other day. Hiller’s will empower the community to be responsible for its own salvation. Our salvation is in our hands. He’s fond of the George Bernard Shaw quote, “My life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.”
    “A strong man, a good man, is one who recognizes and uses the power he has to help others,” says Hiller. “We’re seeing generous families ordering food for those who need it in an effort to preserve their privacy and maintain their integrity.”
    Now, I told you that today’s part of the story was about competition as well as cooperation. Entrepreneurship is about forging one’s own self-sustaining and hopefully successful model for developing a business. That means making space in the marketplace, forming new partnerships among the already existing networks out there—and empowering individuals to reach within and use their greatest strengths to provide income for themselves and feed the economy while providing products and services that people need.
    Competition as well as cooperation are core values in our work.

    So, tell us: What do you think that balance should be? How do we keep alive American energy around building new business models—with cooperation to help communities?

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