Including Members in the Ends Dialogues

How is your board spending its time? It’s easy to get caught up in the delegation and accountability portion of a board’s job.  Yet there’s a whole other side to the work that is equally important, and the ultimate endeavor of the board: spending time thinking about the co-op’s desired outcomes, members and member needs. A board is accountable for results produced, but ends [...]

Co-op Fair Brings Community Together

Weaver Street Market in Carrboro, N.C. is continually working to cultivate community connections.  They host multiple events every year, and the Co-op Fair is one special event that brings hundreds of co-op owners together for a day of festive learning and activities—and voting, too.  “It is wildly successful,” said Brenda Camp, the co-op’s owner services coordinator. The first fair was launched in 2012 in [...]

What is Board Holism or Speaking with One Voice?

When the members elect and delegate the board to act on behalf of all members, the delegation is to the board, not to individual directors. This means that the authority lies with the board as a whole, and is expressed by board actions and decisions. In its dealings with its delegate, the general manager, and with members, directors contribute to a group process and [...]

Creating Board Holism in Board Communication

Here are a few examples of recurring board processes:  nominations, recruiting and elections; GM evaluation; GM compensation; board self-evaluation; setting board priorities; agenda planning; officers roles and elections; code of conduct review and consideration of conduct issues; acting on reports from management; and responding to member or customer input. That doesn’t even take into account the infrequent board decisions related to purpose, expansion, debt [...]

So Our Co-ops are Mostly White, Now What?

In the more than 30 years I’ve been involved with co-ops—student housing co-ops, food co-ops, even a worker-owned collective—almost all of the participants have been white. The same has been true for most of the co-op conferences, meetings, and trainings I’ve attended. Currently I work with food co-ops across the country in which the overwhelming majority of the directors, staff and customers are white. [...]

On Board with Participation

No chain grocery store could ever be as woven into the fabric of its community as a co-op. Boards can help their co-ops leverage this advantage by looking at their role as board members through the lens of successful relationship-building as much as through successful oversight of operations. The POP (Power of Participation) program strengthens the quality of relationships across participant groups—owner, shopper, staff, [...]

Streamline Nominations and Elections Process to Ensure Future Governance

As food co-ops add locations and post sales well into the multi-millions, it is critical that these important community assets are well-governed.  Because the stakes are higher than ever, food co-ops need people with strong leadership skills to serve on boards. Today’s boards are grappling with how to go about recruiting people from a variety of backgrounds and screening them for the necessary skillset [...]

The Value of the Co-op Cafe

It can seem difficult in our mega-scheduled lives to set aside a day dedicated to discussion about issues that are important to us in our co-ops and communities.  And when we make the time, it better be inspiring, worthwhile and awesome.  The great news is that the Cooperative Cafe events are all of that and more.  Time and again we hear from participants—all along [...]

Update: GMO Labeling Advocates Bring Opposing Side to Negotiating Table

Last year was a pivotal time for the GMO labeling movement. Federal agencies approved several new genetically modified foods, including AquAdvantage salmon—the first GMO animal approved for sale and consumption. Meanwhile, Congress debated the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (SAFLA), which was dubbed the Denying Americans the Right-to-Know, or DARK, Act by consumer advocacy groups because it aimed to block mandatory GMO labeling [...]

Leadership is Core of Effective Co-op Governance

La Montañita Co-op Food Market has long been feeling the pressure of a competitive marketplace, and their response has been to look at ways they can better grow and serve their cooperative market in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Right now La Montañita has six retail locations in three cities and their own wholesale distribution center.  Their success over the years can be attributed to many [...]