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Behind the Scenes of the Board

When you were a kid in grade school, did you wonder what happened in the Teacher’s Lounge? What did teachers do when they weren’t in front of their classes?

As an Owner of the Willy Street Co-op, you might wonder what happens at Board meetings. What do our Board members actually do at their monthly meetings?

This month, it’s my pleasure to take you inside the boardroom, and share what really happens at our meetings.
Besides the housekeeping, e.g. approving the previous month’s minutes and voting on policies, my favorite parts of Board meetings are the educational sessions. All Board meetings start with a 45-60 minute session, usually (but not always) related to our three initiatives:

  1. Developing green initiatives for the Co-op

  2. Increasing financial accessibility of the Co-op’s products to Owners and nonOwners

  3. Developing our region’s local food system

Here’s a recap of our most recent educational sessions, and how they’ve impacted your Board:

  • In April, personnel at the newly formed UW-Madison Office of Sustainability stopped by to talk about their efforts to green UW’s campus—everything from light bulbs to calculating energy savings. This sparked a lively discussion about how the Co-op (which already has a very active and effective sustainability initiative) can think more broadly about sustainability. One idea—based on the triple bottom line of People, Planet, Profit—was how the Co-op can think more sustainably about its people. For example, are the Co-op’s life-work balance policies—including vacations—sustainable for staff?

  • In May, my colleague Sonia Kubica and I shared a map of Madison’s food deserts—areas where residents are more than a mile away from a legitimate grocery store. Turns out, Madison has five food desserts. This came as a surprise to many Board members, and led to a discussion about how we could execute innovative strategies to bring affordable organic foods to Madison’s underserved areas.

  • In June, we’ll dive into our local food distribution systems and discuss ways the Co-op can be more involved in efficiently getting food from farm to table in the greater Madison area.

  • July’s education session will explore the true costs of organic food. Willy Street Co-op staff already receive this training as part of their orientation program, and Board members are eager to learn more about this, because we’re constantly fighting the perception that the Co-op is “more expensive” than traditional grocery stores. The truth, as we’re learning, is that local, organic produce is not always more expensive, and we need to learn how to talk to critics and community members who hold this perception.

But don’t take my word for it. All Board meetings are open to the public, and I encourage you to attend any of our upcoming meetings—even if only for the educational sessions! Our next Board meetings are listed on page 2.

  • July 17th, 6:00–9:00pm (East Community Room)

  • August 21st, 6:00–9:00pm (West Community Room)

Two more quick reminders:

  • The Annual Meeting & Party is Thursday, July 12th. Mark your calendars. This is a great place to talk to your Board members and meet new Board addition to eating and drinking with your fellow Owners.

  • Vote for your favorite representative for the Board. Voter turnout is one metric on the General Manager’s scorecard. As an Owner, you’ll receive your ballot and candidate profiles in the next Reader.

Tamar Zick, LPC

Prana Electric LLC

Associated Housewrights

Home Savings Bank

Monona Grove Nursery School