by Calvin Dame
This year, the Board of Directors has become more concerned with the twin threats of climate change and income disparity and what they pose to our Co-op and to our community. We already experience their effects: disruptive weather patterns, changing demographics, transportation disruptions, rising costs, housing shortages, climate refugees, inflation.
The Co-op, by design, already addresses many of these issues. For instance, our efforts to provide healthy food and products as affordably as we can, our efforts to source locally, our commitment to provide living wages, and the support we provide to the community beyond our doors.
We are guided in our efforts by the Cooperative Values and Principles of the larger Cooperative Movement of which we are a part. Values such as Self-Help and Self-Responsibility as well as Equality. Principles such as Voluntary and Open Membership, Economic Participation, Education, Cooperation among Cooperatives and Concern for Community. Each of these Values or Principles could be expanded into an essay or column to good effect, but the point for us now is that the interests of our co-op expand beyond this month’s food and products.
We are guided as well by our own Ends Policies which begin with reasonably priced, locally sourced where possible healthy food and products and also point us to a welcoming marketplace, an environmentally responsible business, a healthy local economy and reasonable access to participation in the cooperative.
A number of our Ends Policies, as they are presently written, point us towards a concern with climate change, and our seventh Ends Policy, which calls for reasonable access to participation in the cooperative, encourages us to address income disparities as an obstacle to participation.
It is important to note that the Co-op already has in place practices and approaches that address these concerns. Our commitment to provide living wages, our efforts to source food locally, our attention to sound environmental practices, our support of the local food shelf and much more. And, we are looking carefully at our member discounts in order to shift toward a needs-based program.
The change in process, in the climate and in the economy, are beyond our control, but our planning and engagement and our response are within our control. The Board supports efforts to mitigate unfortunate circumstances, build resiliency into our operations and contribute to the health of our local communities.