by Doug Johnson, WSGC Board Member
It may not seem quite as exciting as all of the recent expansion talk, but there is another committee of the Board that has also been engaged in a process that will play an important part in the future of the Co-op. This is a group of directors and staff members who have been examining the bylaws, with an eye to recommending some changes that might be necessary in the light of our current greatly-increased size and our possible future expansions, whatever they may be.
Our goal is to propose a new set of bylaws that are clear and easily understood while continuing to serve their role as a means to provide member oversight and control over the activities of the Co-op.
We want to end up with bylaws that guide the Co-op in operating in a sound business manner, maintaining a balance between growth and stability while allowing for efficient decision making. We want to ensure that we operate in accordance with the cooperative principles and with our commitment to manage the Co-op in an open and democratic manner. We want to continue to reflect the rights of the staff to participate in the management of the store and to protect your powers as the member/owners of the business.
We also want to be aware of the complications and opportunities that may arise if we were to become a multi-store operation with many more members. We don’t expect to unnecessarily complicate the bylaws now in anticipation of that, but we do want to be able to have a smooth transition to a different structure if that becomes necessary in the future.
It is becoming clear, too, that this discussion about bylaws needs to be part of a larger discussion about membership in general, including what kinds of memberships we have and what the rights, responsibilities and benefits of becoming a member are.
This revision of the bylaws won’t be happening in a vacuum, though. There will be multiple opportunities to weigh in on the proposals and to contribute to the discussion over the course of the coming year, with an expectation that we will have a draft to present to the entire membership for a vote in 2006. If you have any ideas about how this process should go or have any suggestions for changes, please let us know.