Earlier this year the Co-op unveiled its new vision statement: Cooperating for a Sustainable Future. While our Board felt that our vision was concisely held in this statement, two questions arose: What is a sustainable future? How do we cooperate for a sustainable future?
While opinions of what a sustainable future looks like were diverse, the visions provided by the Board were very complimentary. We will serve our Owners’ needs. We will be financially sound and growing—a co-op that will be there for our children and their children. We will build a more sustainable food system in our region. We will be a fair and joyful workplace. We will support our suppliers. We will grow the cooperative movement.
These statements paint a future for the Co-op that is hopeful, but how we pursue our vision in the long-term is a more complicated question. Will we continue to expand retail operations? Will we open a farm? Will we follow co-ops like Spain’s Mondragon and Venezuela’s Amigo Café to build a local democratic economy? Our Owners will answer these questions as time goes by, but they energize us as our vision guides us forward.
To turn our vision into short-term action, the Board established the Mission Committee and expanded the vision into these goals for the next year:
- Identify second retail site to open in FY2010
- Develop long-term plans
- Improve meeting process for more effective Board meetings
- Improve Board-Owner communication
The Board adopted this mission at our April meeting and we will evaluate how well we follow this mission as the next year unfolds.
One of the advantages of being a cooperative is that we have many varied opinions and perspectives leading our organization. Our vision for the Co-op was created by pooling our diverse perspectives but each Board member’s contribution was vital. This illustrates one of the strange contrasts of a cooperative: the group makes all decisions but individuals can be very influential. For example, our adoption of Policy Governance and the Dane County Living Wage grew from the interest of individual Board members.