Last year I wrote my first Co-op article on the topic of a welcoming community. To recap: In that article I spoke about my move to Brattleboro. It was a difficult time in my life, and I was seeking ways to make connections and find affiliation. One of my first decisions was to become a shareholder at the Co-op. I learned I could receive a discount by working two hours a month. Still groping to find my way I worked on average ten hours a week! I didn’t have other commitments and The Co-op was my “go to” place; I developed cordial relationships with Co-op employees, especially with those working the front end. I not only received a discount for my Co-op shopping, I also began to find the connection and affiliation I was seeking. Now I am a Co-op Board Member!
As of this writing, I have completed nine months of BFC Board service. A couple of months ago, I became chair of the Shareholder Engagement Committee. The Shareholder Engagement Committee, which includes Mary Bene and Tamara Stenn, meets monthly between regularly scheduled Board meetings. Often Sabine Rhyne, the BFC GM, and Jon Megas-Russell, head of Marketing and Shareholder Services, join our meetings and we discuss how we can be supportive of, and responsive to, the General Manager’s efforts and initiatives. Our meeting notes are part of monthly Board packets, are included in the agenda and are discussed at the full Board at each meeting.
Writing the September Food For Thought article by the end of the first week of August feels odd. I feel like summertime with all that means and involves is slipping away and soon it will be time for people to return from their holiday and for school to start. This summer seems to be going quickly.
A few years ago, I accepted a part time job running a fledgling program. It seemed perfect! I was committed to the mission, liked the hours, and was intrigued by the opportunity to build something from the ground up. Eighteen months later, the program was operating seven days a week, I was working full time with two staff, and the program was growing explosively. I jokingly told people I was the victim of my own success.
Looking for something cheerful in the 2020 election season? Run for the Board of this shining beacon of hope, the Brattleboro Food Co-op!
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.