BOD Report: More Than Just a Grocery Store

  | Board of Directors, Food For Thought

I’m just completing the final year of my first 3-year term on the BFC Board of Directors, this time around. It’s very interesting to think back to my prior service on the Board back in the early 2000’s. At that time the Co-op was being lured out to Putney Rd. to fill an empty box store space. Kudos to the Cassidy brothers of BAST Corporation whose offer to sell the shopping plaza property to the Co-op turned us from renters into owners. That’s what made the numbers work in support of remaining in the downtown space. Now the Co-op is well-rooted as a downtown anchor. I for one wouldn’t want to imagine downtown Brattleboro without the Co-op walking distance from the residential and commercial core of our town. Over time it’s easy to take significant things for granted and forget the challenges we worked through to get to where we are today.

As a Brattleboro-area resident for 35 years, my commitment to this community is strong. Serving on the BFC Board is personally very satisfying to me. It increases my awareness of how much more than just a grocery store the Co-op is. There are so many ways that the Brattleboro Food Co-op contributes to the health and vibrancy of this town. And that contribution is something I’d like to make sure gets shared at our upcoming annual meeting on Friday, November 9th. As vice president of the Board, I am an active member on the planning committee for the annual meeting. I am excited about the engaging panel of Co-op stakeholders that will be a key component of this year’s event. As a rich complement to the GM and Board president’s reports on the state of the Co-op, we will be hearing from a group of people with a variety of different relationships to the Co-op. We all have our vision of who the Co-op is, but it’s probably bigger than we each know.

I think about how we as shareholders can continue to evolve our experience and understanding of who “WE” are. We are not a bunch of “I’s!” I learn this over and over again when I do my regular “tabling” in the Co-op. That’s when I sit with another Board member at a table alongside the cheese counter across from the Deli and engage with shoppers. Talking with you all inevitably broadens my perspective of who “WE” are! And I am hoping that the panel of folks we’ve invited to speak at the Annual Meeting on November 9th will raise our awareness of who “We” are.

The Annual Meeting brings up the topic of voting and the bylaw changes that will be presented to shareholders along with the slate of Board candidates. In the August FFT Beth Neher, our BFC Board president, mentioned edits to three bylaws that the Board is recommending for shareholder approval. We invite your comments.

  1. Make a global stylistic change to the bylaws by adding a hyphen to the word “Coop” so it reads, “Co-op.”
  2. Delete the phrase “to patronize the Coop on at least an occasional basis” from Bylaw Section 2.4. This was important when we were a small start-up, but now with over 7,000 members it is no longer required, and we really don’t have a good system for checking it.
  3. To add this phrase to Bylaw Section 2.2: “A legal entity applying for membership must maintain a single individual as an authorized representative.” And this phrase reflects a change from what was indicated in the August article. We’ve strengthened it by saying “maintain” instead of just “name” a single individual.

Please do vote, and please do come to the Annual Meeting on Friday, November 9th. I’ll see you there!

By Jerelyn Wilson