As we wind down the calendar year, do the customary reflecting on what’s passed and set course for the year to come, the Co+op looms large and bright in my mind. This year has been a roller coaster ride, mostly careening in the downward direction in many arenas, when considering the struggles of fellow humans, the integrity of our institutions, and all the dangers to our environment. But I have loved connecting with the amazing people of the Co+op and pushing together in an upward direction, and thanks to this work I find reason to stay positive.
It is no exaggeration to say that our position is immensely improved from this time last year. This staff has worked extremely hard, made sacrifices and difficult decisions to bring finances into the black for the year, and has infused the store with energy, positivity and that community spirit that sets cooperatives apart. General Manager Nagisa Suzuki and the management team have some big things in the works that will change the look and feel of the store, improve efficiency and better meet the needs of Co+op owners and all our customers.
Continuing on the board after the October Annual Owners’ Meeting, we have Dael Goodman, Siddeeq Shabazz, Xochitl Torres Small, Spenser Lopez, and myself. Congratulations to Irene Holguin and Ron Fitzherbert on their election to the board, and thank you for joining us! I’m excited to work alongside these fine people, all passionate, principled, hard-working individuals who care deeply about our community and the place of the Co+op at the heart of it. We thank and applaud Claudia Piper as she steps down - a dear friend who has served with distinction for twelve years, and whose warm, sometimes gruff, always engaging presence will be missed! But the search for directors isn’t over – our by-laws require a nine member board, and allow for the two vacant seats to be filled by appointment. Interested folks should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The board, of course, exists to make decisions and act on behalf of and in the best interest of the owners. The main gig is to provide oversight of the General Manager’s performance in such areas as financial conditions, adherence to cooperative principles, and staff treatment, by means of policy governance. The board does not get involved in day-to-day operational decisions, but is meant to provide guidance and lend vision to the direction the Co+op takes. For instance, when a store remodel was decided on to address increased competition in the natural foods market in 2014, the board worked with management to undertake an owner loan campaign. Now, as our financial condition has stabilized since early this year and is trending upward, we are reaching out to those lenders to keep them in the loop and plan for the repayment of their loans beginning in 2019. And we are excited to rededicate ourselves to the truly gratifying work of being on a board, envisioning the possibilities of what more the Co+op can be and do, opened up by a return to profitability. ¡Adelante!