The Most Interesting & Exciting Year at Our Co-op

As we come to the end of a most interesting year, although a most exciting one at our co-op, I want to reflect on what’s been going on with your Board of Directors.

As the store expansion proceeds very smoothly to its conclusion, the Board has been monitoring the progress of our new space’s construction and outfitting. Our management staff, along with the General Contractor, have stayed on target both with timing and expenses. Along the way, we have considered small changes to the plan that will enable our staff to more safely serve our customers during the pandemic. The construction should end by mid-December, and we are thinking about how to engage our Member-Owners and customers in celebration of our success.

On another front, the Board had an extended meeting in October in which we took a deeper dive into two timely areas of concern to our co-op. One of the most important roles that the Board has is to ensure that the work of the General Manager is subject to ongoing appraisal and that we have a mechanism to provide for GM compensation that is consistent, organized, and one which rewards and motivates the GM to successfully lead the organization. Thankfully, our founders and early Board members made some wise decisions about a system of governance that we are using today. Good governance enables the Board to stay focused on the most important measures of success in the retail grocery sector and a compensation planning process that reflects that focus.

The second topic at that October meeting was that of “openness” and what our Ends Statement—to meet our community’s need for a marketplace that welcomes and connects community—truly means in 2020. I think most of the Board members came away from that meeting feeling like we have only just begun to examine our personal biases and behaviors in the larger cooperative context and how they may impact our leadership of a retail operation employing 100 individuals, serving thousands of our friends and neighbors. We know that Keene and the surrounding area offer a rich and varied population. Our Healthy Food for All program is just one initiative to reach out to individuals and families with limited food budgets, especially during the pandemic. Our exploration and learning about an open and welcoming marketplace is, I suspect, a never-ending journey toward our vision that every person entering our store is treated as a welcome guest and finds fellowship as well as healthy food that exceeds their expectations.

We need to tell a more diverse story to demonstrate that “all are welcome.” We want to find ways to celebrate our community’s diversity and explore the intersections of food, race, class, and culture. We must work to ensure that our “co-op community” is truly welcoming and not be satisfied with how things are. We are exploring strategies that will create a more economically, ethnically, and racially diverse co-op and a wise and meaningful policy and action plan to get us there.  We welcome your thoughts and comments on our work at [email protected].

If you have ever thought about becoming more active in our co-op’s leadership, now is the time! We have two vacancies and are always looking for Member-Owners interested in learning more about Board service.