The Communication Struggle

How can our co-op maintain communication with its members? It should seem like a straightforward answer in our always-connected, digital world. Communicating has never been so easy, but perhaps that’s what makes it so hard. We all have thousands of companies bombarding our inbox, sending us marketing messages via text message and obtrusive ads. There is a battle waging for your attention, and yes, even our co-op is battling for your consideration. I would urge all of us to be more active communicators, even in these busy days.

Communication with our members is a crucial ingredient to keep our board and our co-op running as intended. The board serves as your representative in the decisions that will shape our store and our community for years to come. The decisions the board make are directly influenced by what we hear (or don’t hear) from our members. We can only make representative choices if we hear from you. Yes, the onus is on us to help break through the noise and connect with our members, but member participation makes our system work.

To connect with our members, we write these monthly blog articles that keep you connected with member outreach, board development, the nomination of new board members, and updates from our board president. We work with our store team to organize events so that we can be available to our member-owners so you can ask us your questions or even tell us how you feel about our co-op and the directions we are taking. We have a community dinner planned and BBQs to attend. We actively monitor our shopper surveys, but they barely scratch the surface when it comes to polling our members on more substantial topics that significantly affect us all.

We, as a board, must also remember that communication is not a one-way street. We must be prepared to act, respond to, and sometimes vote based on our conversation with member-owners. Nothing disenfranchises a community more then feeling as if their opinions fall on deaf ears.  At the core of our store is a democracy, and like any democracy, our representative ownership of this community good crumbles in silence.

It is our promise to you that we will continue to explore ways to create healthy two-way communication and to continue to be willing to share information with our members. Member-ownership of the co-op also comes with a responsibility, a responsibility to come to the table and participate for the health of the community. Please let us know if you have any suggestions on how we can better keep our member-owners better informed and engaged. Send us an email at [email protected], drop a comment the next time you are in store, direct message the store on Facebook, come to a board meeting, or see us at the next event. It’s communication and representation that makes our co-op different from other grocery stores. We must do everything we can to maintain it.