Fall Planning in a Socially Distanced World

During this pandemic, I have had the opportunity to reflect on how the rhythm of the seasons marches on unaware of our human struggles and concerns. The snow melted, the grass grew and has recently turned downright crispy. Typically the summer is a time for planning for many of us on our Co-op Board. We look to October and start to get the gears turning in preparation for what I consider to be the store’s social event of the year. The annual meeting has always been a fun and exciting event. It’s a time to see people you may have not seen in ages, enjoy a meal, and get a feel for the community that helps support our store. It is also when we all get to hear how our co-op has done over the year and what the plan is going forward.

It will likely not surprise anybody that this year planning this gathering has been challenging. Concerts have been canceled, restaurants locally are just beginning to test the waters of safe environments, and many of us have had to come to grips with the logistics of navigating once familiar routines as if they were part of a new world entirely. Personally, I know I’ve asked myself more than once: “Is this safe?”, “Should I wear gloves?”, “Is my mask the right kind of mask?”

Without a clear way to create a guaranteed safe environment for our member-owners to gather in the scale as we have seen in the past, we have decided that the best path forward for our annual meeting is to plan on it being a socially distant experience. In its most basic form, what we are discussing is a webinar. Members will log in from home and get the same content we have been planning, but without the crowded room or line for food. This is the safest option we could figure out while fulfilling our obligations to our member-owners. It is not necessarily the most fun option and there are a number of elements that I personally will miss with this compromise.

With the decision made, the Member Linkage Committee has started to work on two questions that we feel are core to making this year’s meeting valuable.

  1. How do we elevate this from a simple screen time type of experience?
  2. How do we make sure that moving this to a technologically focused gathering is not a barrier to access?

We want members to attend, feel heard, and feel engaged. We also assume that many of you may have feelings, advice, or feedback that you would like to share with us. We are inviting just that and are willing to listen. Please feel free to share them with us here: [email protected].