Fall has arrived and with it we have some new faces on the Board. Congratulations to newly elected Board members Jeff Bessmer, Wilson Majee, and Raechel Pundsack. These new voices will add diverse experience and fresh perspectives to the leadership of the Co-op. It’s also important to acknowledge the work and dedication of outgoing Board members Buck Rhyme, Deb Shapiro, and Steve Silverberg. They served diligently in helping implement recent changes such as the revision of the bylaws as well as the ongoing process of opening a second retail store.

Smooth transition

It’s the sign of the health of the Co-op that we have a process that allows for a smooth transition when new Board members are elected. The first thing that happens is a Board orientation where new Board members learn about Board process and their role as Board members, in particular the difference between governance and management. Each Board member is also assigned a mentor, so that they have a sounding board as they begin to understand the current issues that the Board is addressing on behalf of the Co-op.

Food and energy costs

The Board takes seriously the economic issues that are affecting owners and staff, most notably the increase in food and energy costs. The Midwest is a hotbed for discussion about how these two important items are interconnected in many ways, not just conventionally as in transportation and production costs, but also in the increasing pressure to produce energy from corn in the form of ethanol. These waves of change are transforming food economics. Finally, our own personal experience with the spring floods and the damage visited on many of our Wisconsin farmers reminds us that good weather is not something we can take for granted.

These price pressures are not going away any time soon as fuel prices will continue to increase. We believe our job at the Board is to understand these and other trends in the Co-op’s business and adapt—working with management to assure the continued success of the Co-op.

Core values

We will continue to adapt to change by relying on our core values. In fact, our values are quite aligned with the future and will keep us resilient in the coming years. Our focus on increased energy efficiency, healthy eating, and building local food networks will serve us and the community well. While we cannot rest on the past, it is a good indicator of owners’ desire to remain in front of change instead of behind it. So the Board will continue to ask questions and work with management to be part of creating a more sustainable food economy for the benefit of you, our members, and the community.

Thanks as always for your support of the Co-op way!