dill pickle fundraising

Dill Pickle Food Coop Expansion: Neighborhood Night & Community Input Session


On Thursday night, new neighbors, coop members and staff, and the moss team gathered at the new Dill Pickle Grocery Coop location, 2746 N Milwaukee, to share ideas and plan for the expanded coop.  The great turnout meant lots of great community input was shared!

There was, naturally, an abundance of tasty snacks from the coop, a presentation of news and process, and a chance to review the preliminary drawings.  Moss had also prepared a number of Community Input Stations intended to gather data about who the new membership will be and what they might want out of their coop.


Here’s the crowd at the end of the evening, gathered around to hear from a few key Coop leaders about the expansion process.  The space doesn’t look like much right now … but all that is about to change!  If you’d like to do more than contribute your ideas to the project, check out the Owner Loan fundraising site here to find out how you can help finance this great new phase for Dill Pickle.

The Importance of Community Input

Moss is a great believer in the Community Input process for public projects.  We’ve worked on input sessions before: for the Lake View Area Master Plan (LAMP) we assisted with a community outreach meeting over two days, to solicit local interest and ideas.  We worked with local business leaders in a project which culminated in our LAMP Low Line proposal to reclaim the public space under the brown line as a park.  Read all about that here!

For public projects, or those with shared ownership like Dill Pickle, it is vital to make sure as many voices are included in the early design phase as possible.  At moss, we know that designers can come up with myriad great ideas, but it takes the input of the end-users to figure out which of those ideas will best serve the final building.  Knowing that Dill Pickle would be sure to include this sort of community input session was just ONE of the many reasons we are thrilled to be working with them.

Step one in planing Dill Pickle’s Neighborhood Night: sketching out ideas for the Input stations.

Mapping the Membership

sketch_mapping station

Asking for Everyone’s Ideas

sketch_postit station

Gathering all the Grocery Preferences

sketch_grocery preferences

Tweeting Out the News

sketch_twitter station

The Neighborhood Night’s Community Input Stations

We encourage YOU, reader, to contribute your opinion.  Just because you missed the evening doesn’t mean your voice will go unheard.  Share in the comments section below!

  • Where will YOU be traveling to the new coop from – and what will your preferred mode of transit be?
  • What’s most important to you in the new coop?  Which aspects of the mission statement do you prioritize?
  • What will you be purchasing from the new deli?

Here’s a rundown of some of the input gathering ideas that were finally implemented.   

How did you get here?dill pickle travel map station

We prepared a full height mapping station for the entry.

A large scale map shows the immediate area of the new coop location and a smaller scale orienting map catches the greater Chicago area.  Visitors were encouraged to mark their starting location with a sticker on the map.

Each person also got to choose a sticker color to indicate how they most likely arrived – foot, bike, skateboard, bus, car or train.  Below, Lety watches as one of the first visitors tags himself on the map.


What Features Does Your Coop Need?

In the area that will be the new community room – large painted labels marked out new spaces on the walls  – we asked people to write down what kind of spaces and activities they wanted to see in the new coop.  Post-it suggestions fell into categories like Kids Programming, Guest Speakers, Workshops, Nutritional Education, Advocacy, and other Partnerships.

community room

What should the new Deli Serve?

The new coop is going to have a generously sized back-of-house kitchen (something there was no room for in the old space) which will give Dill Pickle a whole new range of prepared foods to sell.  We asked coop and community members to tell us what items from the new deli counter they’d be most excited to order.

None of us at moss generally eat much boxed cereal, but Chris heroically took on the task of clearing out six boxes of granola in order to provide the framework for the voting boxes!

deli options

This station also demonstrated the Dill Pickle Basic Needs Basket – a program by which the coop intentionally keeps prices on basic staples low so that anyone can make it their regular grocery store.  The coop may carry some expensive specialty items, sure, but the Basic Needs Basket means that there will be every day affordable prices for staples including fresh produce, frozen veggies, dairy products and pantry items.

People placed their votes for deli choices by dropping a “Pickle Nickel” into on of the colorful boxes and the votes were tallied at the end of the evening.  Here’s Matt demonstrating the process!

deli vote

The Coop Mission Statement

The community input session also seemed like a great time to check how the Coop’s mission squares with the priorities of the membership.  With large scale prints of the statement mounted on the wall, everyone was given stickers to signal their approval.

Its clear that Local and Organic production are very popular ideas and Social Impact is a big deal for people who attended the event!

coop priorities

Tweet Yourself!

We wanted to make an opportunity to connect with social media.  This dry-erase thought bubble was a station where people could complete the statement “My Dill Pickle is …” with any conclusion they wished.

community input twitter station

People seemed to have a lot of fun with the twitter station, both writing their Coop Dreams and posing for snaps.

  • My Dill Pickle is …
  • A COMMUNITY gathering space that provides Clean, Healthy Food.  BOOM!
  • Healthy Food and Fun!
  • my hope for the sustainable future of Chicago.
  • Socially Responsible Food.
  • my go-to neighborhood spot for organic & local goodness.
  • a place where small restaurants can introduce themselves to Logan Square in a pop up sort of way
  • TASTY!

tweet it

So there you have it.  If you were there, THANKS, it was great to meet you.  If you couldn’t make it, there’s still time to make sure your voice is heard in the design process.  Comment here or contact Dill Pickle directly to let us know what you want out of the new Dill Pickle location.