by Holly Fearing, Board President
Hello and welcome to July! I know it’s hot and muggy at times here in July, but summer is truly my favorite time of year in Madison. I often joke that it’s impossible to move out of this part of the country because in winter, who would be crazy enough to try moving during whatever wicked weather we might get on any given day; but then in the flip of a switch we have full-on summer, and who would be crazy enough to move away before enjoying all that we have waited out the winter for, like our neighborhood festivals. We’re fortunate to have so many thriving community events.
Speaking of thriving community, I want to thank you all for being part of the Co-op’s and by way of that, my, life for the past six years that I have been a member of the Co-op’s Board of Directors. I am terming off this month and making way for new voices to drive our Co-op forward. I have learned so much and have been grateful for the experience of serving for this great Co-op. A few key themes about the Co-op have emerged for me.
Everything starts with your vote
Every vote has a big and small impact. I will never forget when I was walking into my first Board meeting, I ran into an Owner who said, “Are you Holly? I voted for you!” That small gesture meant so much to me and really put into context the responsibility that sat on my shoulders from there on.
The cooperative structure exists to maximize equality and fairness across the stakeholders of the business. Owners have the responsibility to elect Board members; Board members have the responsibility to represent the voice of Owners in directing governance and delegating operational duties of the business; and the Operational teams have the responsibility of working toward achieving that vision. The system all starts with Owners placing their vote for Board Directors. That’s a big deal, and nothing happens without it.
All Owners are called to that responsibility right now! As my fellow Board Director, Stephanie, mentioned in her article last month, voting for Directors begins July 1 and runs through July 17. You have 17 days to read through the candidate statements that are printed in this Reader (and online) and to select the three candidates you choose to carry the Co-op forward in the best interest of all stakeholders fairly and equally. You’ll have an opportunity to hear directly from candidates and place your votes during this year’s Annual Meeting & Party on July 12.
We do great things
At a recent Board meeting, we spent some time focusing on “generative governance”—the practice of looking forward and asking the right questions about where we are going and where we want to go as a Co-op. We started with a quick statement from everyone answering the question, “If you can shop anywhere, why choose the Co-op?” No answers were unexpected, yet all were humbling and inspiring. We all had similar sentiments about the efforts this Co-op makes to reinvest in community, create relationships between people and our food, grow health in individuals and groups, give voice and opportunity to all, work together for something greater than the sum of our parts. All of these reasons and more were standing behind our choices to be part of the Co-op despite other options. It caused me to reflect on the big picture. We may not do everything 100% perfect every day, but the Co-op has a vision, a shared outcome we aim for and work toward with genuine effort day in and day out. That is pretty cool to see in action.
We are made of great humans
From Co-op staff to Owners to Directors to farmers, vendors, producers and every human involved in the work we do, there is an energy around what we are doing. We agree that this Co-op matters and that we’re better with it than without it. I have personally worked and interacted with many of these people over the years, and the passion for what the Co-op does is always evident. We may not always agree on everything, but it’s clear that we show up and we speak up because we care to do our best and keep it going. I want to thank you all once again for showing up and caring about the opportunity we have to affect positive change in the world through our Co-op. And please remember that it all starts with your vote.
I hope I will see you July 12 at the Annual Meeting & Party!