The update in May centered around the idea of emergence. As I write this in the shadow of the horrific events in Buffalo, Uvalde, and the ongoing atrocities in the Ukraine I would like to share some thoughts about resilience. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty. In many ways it is easy to feel helpless in moments like these. What can we do that is meaningful for the parent in Uvalde whose child is never coming home? For a grieving mother in Buffalo who must explain to her children why they will never visit their grandmother again? For the survivors of war crimes who must find a way forward in a world that has crumbled around them? How many times must we be reminded of the African proverb, “The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.”?
As we struggle for answers, we must be resilient. Now is the time for us to reflect on what we can do in our own community to help prevent such needless tragedies and at the same time help us stand ready to help each other. Indeed, a sense of community is a critical part of our ability as people to weather hard times. As many of you know the Co-op is no stranger to adversity and the Brattleboro community has been instrumental in our ability to endure. Our shareholders have understood the importance of community from our inception and have institutionalized the creation of a welcoming community marketplace as one of our Ends policies.
So, as I reflect on the Co-op this month I wanted to offer my thanks to everyone in our community for all your support over the years. This support has been instrumental to our ability to survive, thrive, and continue to serve you. Perhaps most importantly, however, I wanted to thank our staff for their resilience. Alex Gyori and Sabine Rhyne led the Co-op through unbelievably challenging times and have laid a strong cultural and financial foundation for our future. Their leadership and guidance are why we are here today. Alex and Sabine, thank you! Over the years, and most recently through the pandemic, our entire team was the very definition of resilient. They worked long hours. They worked short staffed. They innovated and changed (sometimes by the hour). They persevered and did everything necessary to ensure that the Co-op remained a safe, welcoming place for the community. Thank you to our staff for all you do!
Moving forward we will bring a renewed focus to supporting our team to ensure that we remain energized, resilient, and here for our community. We are planning some exciting changes to our compensation structure for the team that reflects our current economic landscape. We are building new training and career development plans so that we attract and retain a great team. We are beginning leadership development and succession planning to ensure that we are helping build Brattleboro’s next generation of leaders. We are trying new ways to bring the Co-op to the community such as catering for local filmmakers and participating in Gallery Walk. We have tried different approaches to old favorites like our Stock Up Sale and are finding creative ways to do more with less. All of which will help maintain our financial health as we see pandemic shopping trends recede. In short, we are investing in our team so we may continue our tradition of resilience in service to the community.
In closing, to all of those who are struggling to be resilient right now, I offer this thought shared by my children from one of their favorite series:
“If you look for the light, you can often find it. But if you look for the dark that is all you will ever see.” Iroh, Avatar the Last Airbender.
May we always remember to look for the light!
By Lee Bradford, General Manager