In this issue of the Co-op Commons Winter 2015, get the latest from the Co-op Board: new study groups, elections, and our path of evolution — exploring the long-range needs for our Co-op’s facility. Learn about the versatility and nutrition of mung beans, beets, how to make soup, and what makes our register receipts better than ever. Read about Beans for Bags, laugh at bean jokes, and enter to win a $25 Co-op store card by guessing the number of beans in the jar located at the front of the store.
January 20th, 2015 by Mindy
January 16th, 2015 by Rachel Williams
What qualities do you most value in a Food Co-op facility?
On January 5, The Food Co-op held a member meeting to talk about the evolution of our facility. Whether or not you came to that meeting, you now have a chance to weigh in online with this advisory poll.
The Board will soon make decisions that impact the short and long range use of our facility, and we want your input. Some members have asked, Why do anything? We love it as it is! We love it, too, but the store is getting squeezed, especially in the back rooms where much of the work is done. We need to fix our current problems and set the stage to meet our future needs.
So, to begin, the Board wants a clear idea of what our members value in a co-op facility. A prioritized list of those qualities will help guide us when hard choices need to be made. And, alas, hard choices, or at least creative ones, are going to be necessary because we’ve looked for the easy solutions for years without success.
At the core of the hard choices we must make is the fact that we all love our location AND it suffers from multiple limitations such as inadequate room to expand either the parking, loading dock area, or building footprint; it is subject to flooding because of its low elevation and problems with city storm water drainage; and it is vulnerable to earthquake and/or tsunami. What to do?
At the January 5 meeting, about 80 members created a list prioritizing the qualities they believe should be a part of the long-range facilities solution, whatever that might be. Now it’s your turn to give feedback, telling us how you would prioritize the choices. (For a more complete write up of the meeting, please see the prior blog post News for the Board – Jan 2015.)
You may notice that staff safety is NOT on our list of things we want your opinion on and that’s because to us, staff safety is non-negotiable. And while our current worksite is crowded and inefficient, we work hard to ensure our staff are well trained and follow all established safety guidelines.
This advisory poll allows each member to select five top facility priorities. If you believe that a desirable quality is missing from the list, you may suggest it as a write-in, and we will periodically add suggestions to the list. In real time, the list will be automatically updated and arranged so that selections with the greatest support rise to the top. Over the course of the two weeks (January 19-February 1) that polling is open, you may change your selection—up to 10 times—if you change your mind or if a new choice is added that you believe is more important. Only your last selection counts. (You can return to the poll from the main Co-op web page.)
Thank you very much for participating!
January 14th, 2015 by Rachel Williams
Discussion Groups are coming!
Thought Provoking ~ Fun ~ FREE
This winter The Food Co-op is kicking off a series of study and discussion groups, hosted by board members. The sessions will be held on Monday evenings at the Co-op Annex, 2482 Washington Street. Dessert and tea will be provided. See below for topics, dates, and additional details.
What Does It Mean To Be a Co-op Today?
Hosts: Monica le Roux & Lisa Barclay
Monday January 26th, 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Co-op Annex 2482 Washington Street, Port Townsend
Our first discussion will explore the role of the Cooperative in today’s communities and economy. We’ll begin with a screening of the film Food for Change. This excellent documentary shows the role cooperatives have played in different eras in U.S. History, from their role in addressing the problems created by the Great Depression, to the re-emergence of cooperatives in the 1960s, and finally, how cooperatives continue to be used by consumers and farmers to gain more control of their local economies.
Following the film, we’ll have 45 minutes of discussion. This will be an opportunity to make connections between historical co-operative movements, starting with the Rochdale Pioneers in the United Kingdom in 1844, and our current needs, challenges, and opportunities.
- Screening of the documentary Food For Change at 6:30
- Discussion from 7:45-8:30
Contact Monica le Roux if you have questions: 643-0821
How Can We Be Ethical Consumers?
Host: Janet Welch
4 week series: Mondays from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, February 2, 9, 16 & 23
Co-op Annex 2482 Washington Street, Port Townsend
In order to receive reading materials, pre-register by emailing Janet at email@example.com
Through the month of February, we’ll discuss the hurdles and opportunities to ethical consuming, using readings from the Northwest Earth Institute’s course Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability. We encourage participants to commit to all four Mondays. By signing up in advance for the entire series, you’ll receive a copy of the coursebook. It is also possible to sign up for one or more individual sessions and receive the readings via email the week prior to each session.
February 2: The Bigger Picture behind Food Choices
February 9: A Healthy Appetite
February 16: Respect and Compassion in the Food Chain
February 23: Eating for the Earth
Contact Janet Welch to register or for information at firstname.lastname@example.org
January 13th, 2015 by Mindy
by Janet Welch, Board President
Facilities Visioning Meeting Recap
In case you missed it, on January 5, the Coop Board held a member meeting at the Uptown Community/Rec Center to talk about our crowded facilities. Eighty or more members showed up to tell us what is important to them in a Co-op facility. We wanted to brainstorm ideas in this opening stage of what we are calling our Co-op Evolution—Where do we go from here with respect to our facilities?
We’ve all experienced times when the parking lot is full, the aisles are congested. But there is more than meets the eye of the average member. Kenna, our General Manager, showed photos of the back room that most shoppers never see, a small, crowded space that is difficult for the staff to maneuver in. Photos of the outside receiving area showed the pallets of food that have to be moved into the store at night and then back outside during the day. Lots of inefficiencies! Our minimal back room space also makes us dependent on daily shipments to keep product on the shelves, which in turn makes us more vulnerable to disruptions in supply. I then presented other issues that impact our options. We are built out to the limits of our property and any increase to the building footprint would mean a smaller parking area. Options for a second story aren’t promising because the building won’t support the load, and the parking issue would simply get worse. Space constraints forced us to move our offices and meeting rooms off site years ago, adding to inefficiencies. One of the most significant constraints is the low-lying topography of the area and issues having to do with city stormwater drains. Did you know that the city has to pump stormwater up to the bay for discharge? When faced with the size and topographic limitations of the existing site, one obvious solution would be to relocate. Unlike the 2001 move from Uptown to our existing location, however, there isn’t a nearby property that has the size and zoning for a store like ours. The most likely option would be in upper Sims Way, out by the Goodwill. And therein lies the problem: we love our location and we love the scale of our store, and retaining those things doesn’t provide many options for relieving our crowding.
Next Steps - Advisory Poll Coming Soon
Much thought and many discussions about these issues have not so far resulted in an obvious solution; it appears that any change must be arise from thinking creatively and making conscious tradeoffs. And that is where the member meeting came in. At that meeting about 80 members worked to create a list prioritizing those qualities that must be a part of the long-range facilities solution, whatever that might be. The plan is to use that list to seed a discussion among a larger group of members through an advisory poll, which you can access either through email—if we have your email address—or in the store. This poll allows each member to vote for the qualities you believe are most important in a facility. If you believe something is missing from the list, you may add it as a write-in, and then it too may be voted on from that point on. In real time, votes will be automatically counted and arranged so that selections with the greatest number of votes rise to the top of the list. Over the course of the two weeks that voting is open, you may change your vote–up to 10 times–if you change your mind or if a new selection is added that you believe is more important. Only the results of your last vote count. If you do not have access to a computer, one will be available in the front of the store near the Board’s board.
December 26th, 2014 by Rachel Williams
Co-op Facilities Evolution—You Can Help
If you shop in the Co-op around lunch time or mid afternoon, you may have noticed that it can get a bit crowded in the store and in the parking lot. What is less visible to shoppers is that the back rooms (receiving, storage, prep, etc) are even more crowded. The challenges and opportunities that this presents are not new. The need has been apparent and ideas have been percolating for years, hemmed in by various factors: we own our building and land, we don’t own the neighboring land (making expansion difficult), we are located on a low spot (drainage issues), the building wasn’t constructed for expansion, etc. Meanwhile many adjustments have been made to optimize use of the space that we have.
The Food Co-op leadership team is embarking on a process to identify our facility needs and assess options that will set us up for success long into the future. We need your help! The first phase involves asking the question: What does the ideal co-op facility provide? To arrive at a useful, thorough answer, we need input from our members, staff, farmers, producers—everyone with a stake in the Co-op. We have lots of opportunities for you to participate including in the store, at a stakeholder meeting January 5th, and online.
In the store:
Stop by the alcove to talk with board members and share your thoughts during the next week at the following times:
Friday, Dec 26th 3-5: Patricia, Henry
Saturday, Dec 27th 12-2: Monica, Henry
Wednesday, Dec 31st 12-2: Henry, Janet
Thursday, Jan 1st 12-2: Monica, Lisa
Friday, Jan 2nd 3-5: Patricia, Janet
Saturday, Jan 3rd 3-5: David, Lisa
At a special stakeholder meeting:
Listen Like Crazy II
Monday, Jan 5th from 7-9 pm at the Uptown Rec Center (upstairs)
On January 5, we will have a stakeholders meeting, which we are calling Listen Like Crazy II (after a Co-op brainstorming event in 2007). We are inviting all Co-op stakeholders to participate. That means you! General Manager Kenna Eaton will give an overview of the issues and challenges of our current facilities. Board President Janet Welch will review the outcome of the previous Listen Like Crazy as a starting point for this discussion. We’ll use the majority of our time to break into smaller groups to brainstorm answers to the question: What would an ideal co-op facility provide? Finally, we will gather back into one group to discuss and prioritize the ideas that were generated. Carrot cake and vegan chocolate cake (everyone’s Co-op Deli favorites) will be provided.
Member Advisory Poll
We are planning a member advisory poll (both online and in the store) for mid February, to engage a wider group of members in responding to the ideas and priorities that that were generated at the January 5th meeting. Look for updates in your email, on the Board’s board at the front of the store, or check back here on our blog for details on how to participate.
Please stop by to see us in the alcove, be sure to come to the stakeholders meeting on January 5, and look for the opportunity to participate in the poll in February. These are just the first steps in a process that will involve lots of hard work and creative thinking by the Board and management to reconcile the vision and values that you help us shape with the practical possibilities defined by geography, zoning and budgets, so be sure to stay tuned for further updates as we move through this process.
November 21st, 2014 by Rachel Williams
The results are in from the member vote on adopting a Patronage Dividend System. Members had the opportunity to vote, during a 25 day period beginning October 25 and ending November 19th, whether or not to adopt changes to The Food Co-op’s Articles of Incorporation that would allow for Patronage Dividends. We are pleased to announce that the initiative passed with 94% in favor. A total of 973 votes were recorded, with 915 Yes votes and 58 No votes.
Board Vote December 2 on By-Law Amendment
The next step in the process of establishing a Patronage Dividend system is for the board to approve changes to The Food Co-op’s bylaws. These changes will bring the bylaws into alignment with the new Articles of Incorporation, and further specify how Patronage Dividends will be implemented. The Board will vote on adopting these By-Law changes at the December 2nd 2014 regular meeting. The By-Law Amendment can be downloaded below and is also posted on the Board’s Board in the store.
Thanks for taking the time to be an engaged member of The Food Co-op!
October 22nd, 2014 by Mindy
Our own in-house line of supplements is made by Vitamer, a fourth-generation family-owned company. After many years, we updated our old golden labels with a fresh green color and new design featuring our heron.
Look for the new green labels – and, until October 31, you can buy two of any sized bottles of Vitamin D and save $5.
New Look – Same High Quality
• Amber colored recyclable glass bottles preserve freshness
• Labels list all ingredients to avoid consumer allergic reactions to unnamed ingredients
• Best By dates guarantee freshness
• Full body, tamper-evident sleeves ensure consumer safety
October 20th, 2014 by Rachel Williams
PATRONAGE DIVIDEND SYSTEM
MEMBER VOTE BEGINING OCTOBER 25
The Board is proposing to implement a patronage dividend system for The Coop. The system would allow us to re-allocate some of our end of year profits—money that otherwise would be paid as taxes! This option is a benefit open only to cooperatives, as a way of redistributing profits back to the membership. Though the amount any member owner might receive is small, the cumulative effect of bringing thousands of dollars back into our community is significant. In order to make this change, a quorum of the membership must vote whether to amend our Articles of Incorporation to include provisions governing how the system would be implemented. And because our original articles were actually filed under the wrong statute 42 years ago, this also gives us the opportunity to resolve that old history.
A 25 day voting period will begin October 25, 2014. Members should look for an email with instructions for voting online. Alternatively, members may vote by paper ballot in the store during the voting period.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Download and read the full text of the proposed and existing Articles of Incorporation.
Find answers to frequently asked questions about Patronage Dividends:
Attend a Special General Meeting on October 25, 2:15pm-4pm at the Senior Center/Rec Center in uptown Port Townsend. All members are invited to come and learn more about the proposal.
Talk with members of the Board and/or the GM in the Store Alcove during the following days/times: Friday Oct 24, 11am-2pm, Monday Oct 27 2:30-5:30pm, Saturday Nov 8 2:30-5:30pm, Monday Nov 10 2:30-5:30pm & Monday Nov 17 2:30-5:30pm.
Review an article on Patronage Dividends from Board Secretary Lisa Barclay (originally published in the Spring 2014 Commons):
Read an “opposing view” submitted by a concerned co-op member:
ACTIVE MEMBER BY-LAW CHANGE APPROVED
At the Board Meeting Tuesday October 7, 2014 the board voted to adopt an amendment to Article II Membership and Article VII Capital of the By-Laws. The amendment updates and clarifies the definition of “Active Member” status, which determines eligibility to vote in co-op elections. These changes will be in effect for the upcoming Patronage Dividend vote beginning October 25th.
- Voter eligibility will be determined at the end of the day before voting begins. This is the biggest change from our previous policy. Members will no longer be able to pay CI during the voting period to become eligible.
- Members will need to have shopped at The Food Co-op at least one time during the previous 12 months in order to be eligible to vote.
Thank you for taking the time to be an informed and engaged member of the Food Co-op!
Members may contact the board at email@example.com.