In case you were not one of the 145 owners who registered and/or attended the Brattleboro Food Co-op’s Annual Shareholder Meeting on the evening of Wednesday, November 11th, you can get a really good sense of the content by reading the minutes that will be posted once they are approved at the December Board meeting. They are actually quite descriptive.
With such gatherings on Zoom we are encouraged to plan a “soft start” and what an enjoyable and soul-filling soft start we had! For a full half hour we listened to a local musician, John Hughes play the kora. Comments flowed in the chat window with expressions of appreciation for John’s soulful, inspiring and healing music. It was a pleasure both to watch him play and to listen.
The great thing about the business portion of the Annual Meeting was the thoughtfulness and sincerity of each speaker. Much appreciation was expressed for the flexibility of all our Co-op staff as they organized and reorganized themselves to create a safe shopping experience over the past 9 months. It was emphasized how important each and every shareholder is – the significance of staying tuned in and of shopping at the Co-op in whatever way they choose – in the store, curb-side, online. The connection of our Co-op with our local community was highlighted numerous times. The speakers brought to life the Annual Report which you can revisit here and appreciate the lively, colorful charts.
There was a hearty Q&A with plenty of good questions about financials, about Dottie’s, about bulk and discounts. Any question we did not have time to respond to was promised a response following the meeting via email.
We spent a full hour of the Annual Meeting with guest presenter, Tabitha Pohl-Moore. She described what it has meant to her as a person of color having grown up in Vermont. As a person whose family goes back six generations in Vermont, her perspective was rich and deep. Her words were authentic and spoken in conversational style as if we were right in her living room with her.
She had us move into breakout groups of 5 or 6 people each to share our perspectives with each other about the theme of our Annual Meeting: Creating a More Welcoming Marketplace.
- What does it mean to be welcoming?
- How do we know that we are welcoming? What does it look like? What does it feel like? What do you see? How do people connect with each other?
- Looking at Brattleboro Co-op now, who might not feel comfortable here?
- What can I contribute to making Brattleboro Co-op a more welcoming marketplace?
No doubt every small group was a little world unto itself. When we all were Zoomed back to the “main room,” we shared key words that arose out of our conversations. You might be seeing a Wordle – which captures and illustrates the highlight of these conversations. Stay tuned! In conclusion, Tabitha reminded everyone that so often we think the answers are “out there,” but she said, “the essence of a co-op is community leadership.” And she added, “YOU drive what the place looks like, what the policies are.” She urged us to reclaim that power within ourselves and to continue on our journey of creating our welcoming community marketplace!
By Jerelyn Wilson, BFC Board President