A few weeks ago I was faced with a tough decision while in the produce department. The conventional red bell peppers looked “perfect”: they were big, symmetrical and a deep, bright red. On that day, the organic peppers that I normally buy were a funny shape and dark red and green. I happily snapped up some conventional reds and headed home. To my dismay, when I got my peppers home and cut them up, I found my “perfect” peppers to be watery and lacking in flavor compared to the organic peppers I am used to.
“…community is the optimal condition for human fulfillment.” – Sidney Pobihushchy
End 1: The BFC exists to meet its Shareholders’ collective needs for reasonably priced food and products with an emphasis on healthy, locally grown organic and fairly traded foods.
One of the most common shopper concerns board directors hear when we table is the cost of items at our Co-op. Some people, however, have discovered ways to shop at the Co-op without experiencing sticker shock. Whenever I talk with someone who has budget concerns, I recommend they get information about the Co-op’s growing Food For All program. If our conversation lasts a little longer, I share some shopping tips with them. I also talk with those whom I see frequently about buying strategies, recipes, better options, or I make recommendations about what to buy.
It’s late January. I was elected to the Board two months ago and have taken a deep dive: two BFC Board meetings, two tablings, committee meetings, a daylong retreat with my Board colleagues, and another full day training entitled Cooperative Board Leadership (CBL) 101 at Keene State College.
Well it’s been a journey. After a second try, I am now a board member of the Brattleboro Food Co-op. The Co-op is a place I have shopped with my children their entire lives—starting as a cashier while pregnant with my son who is now about to graduate high school!
In November I had the opportunity to spend a day at Keene State College as a prospective BFC board candidate attending a Co-op Café sponsored by CDS Consulting Co-op and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), a federation of more than 35 New England and New York Co-ops. NFCA represents over 144,000 members, combined annual revenues of $330 million, $90 million in purchasing of local products, and 2,300 jobs valued at $69 million. There is power in numbers.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was a workshop led by Dr. Jude Smith Rachele on November 3, 2018 at the Shaker Museum in Enfield, NH.
If you haven’t been to the Shaker Museum in Enfield, it’s worth a trip! Eight of us from the Brattleboro Food Co-op joined about 40 others from a number of regional co-ops for a workshop on diversity held at the museum. Represented were people in diverse roles: general managers, human resource managers, board members, Co-op staff, one staff member from Neighboring Food Co-op Association, and one Cooperative Development Services (CDS) consultant.
I have struggled for weeks trying to write this December Food For Thought article. My intention is to write about my experience as an employee-board member, as well as to explain why I am choosing not to run for a full term.
The Brattleboro Food Co-op recently agreed to take part in a pilot program using the principles of restorative justice with our partners for retail theft. I was curious about restorative justice, and I found out that it has been around for at least 35 years around the world. The extent of the program varies from country to country, and from application to application. It has helped when prison overcrowding is prevalent by working with low level offenders to repair harm done, addressing other root causes when possible.
RSVP for the 2018 Annual Shareholder Meeting and Community Panel Discussion!
6pm @ NEYT
100 Flat Street
I’m just completing the final year of my first 3-year term on the BFC Board of Directors, this time around. It’s very interesting to think back to my prior service on the Board back in the early 2000’s. At that time the Co-op was being lured out to Putney Rd. to fill an empty box store space. Kudos to the Cassidy brothers of BAST Corporation whose offer to sell the shopping plaza property to the Co-op turned us from renters into owners. That’s what made the numbers work in support of remaining in the downtown space. Now the Co-op is well-rooted as a downtown anchor. I for one wouldn’t want to imagine downtown Brattleboro without the Co-op walking distance from the residential and commercial core of our town. Over time it’s easy to take significant things for granted and forget the challenges we worked through to get to where we are today.
by Mary Bene