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Farming at the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference
Family Farm: Oven-Roasted Chickens Hot & Fresh Nightly
Profile: Just Coffee
the Midwife: Healthy Teeth in Pregnancy & Infancy
& Drink Recommendations
Earthen Courtyard Community Building Project
a New Food Cooperative
WSGC Board Member
In my consulting work with food co-ops nationwide, I often have opportunities
to visit other co-ops. I’ve recently been to Bloomington, Indiana,
Iowa City and Bozeman, Montana, for example. It is always fun to see what
others are doing to make quality, local food available to their members.
Or to communicate with members about important issues affecting food and
the co-op world. Or to design a meeting notice so that it becomes a work
of art. Or to determine long-range priorities for the co-op that meet
the members’ needs and fulfill their values.
In Montana, for example, the co-op is considering an investment in a chicken
ranch to assure quality, hormone-free eggs and chicken. They seem to have
the beef thing down in Montana. They also have a lot of local organic
grains, but they have to import vegetables, even during the summer. In
Iowa City, the co-op is concerned about how to pay down a big expansion
loan without gouging the members on prices. In Bloomington, the board
is concerned about how to make expansion a priority before the sales growth
at the current store outstrips the store’s ability to serve members.
Returning to Shop
After being away and returning to shop at Willy Street Co-op once again,
I always feel that “I’m coming home.” I trust all members
feel that way when they shop at Willy Street Co-op because it’s
familiar, we know where the products are (for the most part), we find
the things we need and it’s part of our home base.
A Profound Sense of Pride
But lately, I have had a profound sense of pride in our Co-op that makes
me happy to say, wherever I go, that I am a Board member of Willy Street
Co-op in Madison, WI. I see the data that compares our Co-op to other
co-ops of similar size nationally, and I see that we are operated efficiently,
we pay competitive salaries, we keep overall prices reasonable and aggressively
work to make basic food prices fair for all. At the same time, the Board
and management staff are working to determine the best opportunities for
growth to help keep Willy Street Co-op the best it can be for our members.
The Best Direction for Growth
By the time you read this article, the Board and management will have
spent two days working on determining the best direction for growth over
the next few years. You’ll be hearing more about those priorities
in the coming weeks and months. I trust the careful deliberation process
the Board will undertake to determine these priorities will result in
good ideas. We look forward to testing them out on you, our members, through
the newsletter articles, our new website, through member forums and the
annual meeting on August 5.
This year, I’ve joined the Member Relations Committee, as I reported
in a newsletter article several months ago. Assuring that member relations
occurs is one of the important functions of the board. Although much of
member relations work is delegated by the Board to Anya, our General Manager,
the Board still retains an important role. As I see it, that role is to
communicate with members about the long-range directions of the Co-op
and about any legal issues that may need attention. One of the things
we will be discussing at the Board planning session is possible changes
to the Co-op’s bylaws or legal incorporating documents. I feel it
is important for the Board to take a leadership role in communicating
with you, our members, about any possible changes to our bylaws.
So, the end of this month, when I travel to Ukiah Natural Foods in Ukiah,
California to facilitate their board training session, know that I take
a big piece of Willy Street Co-op with me. And, I always look forward
to coming home after the work is over.
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