Balancing consistency and change: that’s what keeps us all healthy and vibrant—familiar ground to stand on with a good measure of growing, learning and challenge. This is true for the Brattleboro Food Co-op as well! Your newly seated 2018 Board of Directors embodies this balance. For consistency, we have 5 of 9 members with a combined Co-op board service of more than 18 years. Our five new members, elected this past November, bring to the Board expanded perspectives, a new set of experiences, and fresh ideas. With new people there is the healthy change in interpersonal dynamics and a shifting of roles. That’s invigorating!
At our first monthly meeting of the new board in December, we all felt the absence of four key board members who had finished their terms or stepped down, and the reality of moving forward without them. To our great advantage is the fact that every one of our new board members had been attending monthly meetings in the fall, so their orientation to the work was already well underway. Our board meetings are open to the public, and we invite our shareholders to get involved. Come and see who we are and what we do!
And your Board of Directors doesn’t leave the growing-learning-challenge part up to dumb luck. In December we spent a precious Saturday-just-before-the-holidays day together getting to know each other better, asking important questions, learning about the retail industry and structuring our committee work. An instructive timeline exercise gave us the opportunity to reflect on the history of the Brattleboro Food Co-op from its 1975 digs in the basement of High St., to the lower level of the Emerson Building on Flat Street (where the Brattleboro Center for Photography is now located) in 1979, to the 1988 move to the P&C food market in the Brookside Plaza, to the 2010 groundbreaking ceremony of our current new storefront. We each shared when and how our personal lives intersected with the Co-op. For two of us, it was very recently; for one it was back on Flat St. as the first Food For Thought editor; for another it was hanging out as a toddler in the children’s room of the Flat Street location as his parents put in their member hours.
After the retreat Sabine Rhyne, BFC General Manager, expressed her impressions of the historical timeline exercise:
“In looking back at the long and eventful history of our Co-op, I was amazed and grateful for all the hands that have helped shape the organization that we have today. So many leaps of faith, surprising highs, and tragic lows, all of them have molded us into a more engaged and interwoven community of people that continue to reach out to and through so many others. It is clear that Brattleboro simply wouldn’t be Brattleboro without the Co-op, and this pushes us forward to be the leader that we can be in our community.”
One of the Board’s goals for 2018 is to deepen our—the Co-op’s—relationships with other local organizations. The Co-op is about so much more than selling good food. It’s about strengthening the fabric that is our community. Our commitment to being an active partner in the community is seen through the Bag-a-Bean donations distributed to over 35 non-profits each year; supporting the position of Education and Outreach Coordinator to work with local school children; engaging with the Groundworks Collaborative around the impacts of a population struggling with addiction; inviting non-profits to set up information tables in the store in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day; and offering shareholder work hours for volunteering with our local non-profit partners—to name just a few.
Are you on the board of a local non-profit? Consider inviting one of us to an upcoming board meeting. We want to know more about your 2018 goals and priorities, and to learn where the synergies and intersections are so we can weave together a community that takes best care of its people. Together we can do that. Now is the time. Please contact me, Jerelyn Wilson: Jerelyn.Wilson@gmail.com.
By Jerelyn Wilson