There are so many exciting things afoot at the Co-op that it was hard for me to pick just one about which to write. Eat Local Challenge! Middleton store progress! Neighborhood festivals! Summer is a time of change, coming together, and challenge at Willy Street Co-op. It is also time for our annual elections for the Board of Directors.

One Ownership, one vote. Whether someone shops at our Co-op every day or every once in a while, every Owner is an equal-part Owner of the Willy Street Co-op and, as such, has the right to elect members of the Board of Directors. Every August, we ask Owners to take a little extra time to act on their Co-op Ownership and vote. Cooperative boards are elected from the membership, and by the membership, and are not appointed by the board chair because of the size of their wallets or their address books for fundraising. This speaks to the responsibility of the Board of Directors: to represent the interests of fellow Owners when setting policy and adhere to the Co-op’s ends policies of sustainability and community while pursuing strategies for future growth.

Just as buying food at Willy Street Co-op helps to keep you healthy, casting your ballot helps to keep the Co-op healthy. You see, the Co-op is not a privately owned business that can decide to revamp its product selection or strategic direction on a whim. We have to be sure that every Owner has the opportunity to be heard. That is why it is important for Owners to read up on candidates for the Board of Directors, and ask them, along with incumbent members, how they plan to connect with Owners and stakeholders in our business, what motivates them to serve on the Board, and in what direction they see the Co-op growing in the future. At the same time, please share your ideas for how the Board can improve outreach to Owners and your thoughts for how you would like the Co-op to grow in the years to come.

The Willy Street Co-op has been in business for more than 35 years. As we approach the milestone of opening a second store, we are thinking strategically about the Co-op’s direction for the next 35 years. Where do we go from here? Are we on the right path? What can we do to improve our sustainability, both environmental and financial, while continuing to strengthen our ties to local farmers and community organizations and reach out to new ones? These are big questions that can only be addressed by a thoughtful and engaged Board of Directors. You own the Willy Street Co-op. Please take a little time to weigh in on who you would like to be your representative on the Board of Directors and guide our Co-op in the years to come.