Climate Change and Economic Disparity – by Calvin Dame

  | Board of Directors, News from the Board of Directors

The Brattleboro Co-op Board of Directors gathered on December 10th for our Annual Retreat.   The first order of business was recognizing re-elected members Calvin Dame, Michele Meulendyk, and Denise Glover and welcoming newly elected directors Anneka Kindler and Vanessa Vadim.

We then devoted time to exploring the particular challenges and possibilities of a cooperative enterprise such as ours: a retail grocery in a competitive market, a shareholder-owned business with 8500+ active shareholders, and a Board of Directors working within a changing landscape supported by the framework of Policy Governance. Next was a report to the Board from Lee Bradford, our General Manager, on how things are looking nine months into his time with us.  In short, good.  Lee has moved confidently to address immediate concerns and has considered longer-term trends as well.

Among the challenging trends brought to the Board’s attention are supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and inflation.  But what most galvanized me and other Board members was someone’s observation that her deepest and most debilitating fear was the reality of climate change- not as some theory hovering beyond the horizon but as a fact of our lives right now.  

At a meeting this past spring, the Board was challenged to imagine what our Co-op might look like in 15 years.  A review of the startling changes of the last fifteen years underlined the fact that change is a constant in our lives. The discussion in the spring was rich and exciting.  The conversation at our December retreat was more sober as we contemplated the dislocations of climate change and the rising threat of income disparity. 

In our Ends Policy, which describes the purpose of our enterprise, it states that we are here to provide healthy foods and products, but our purposes are broader.  Our Ends include a welcoming community, a healthy workplace, a business with a net positive environmental impact, and a sustainable local economy.  

The Leadership of the Co-op, the Board, the Management, and the Shareholders, are always called to plan and prepare for the challenges ahead.  In the coming months, we will be thinking about this.  We welcome your thoughts.

Calvin Dame