Board of Directors Report
by Pamela Reagan
The answers are as varied as the shareholders who make up the Co-op. However, there appears to be a common thread between the shareholders responses and the Co-op's ends policies, which demonstrates that the Co-op is spot-on in its mission.
Many of the answers can be found in the Co-op's ends policies themselves: finding community with like-minded people, supporting local food producers, supporting a regenerative business, learning about healthy foods, and getting involved and participating in the Co-op.
To find out why people have chosen to be shareholders, I set out to get some feedback from folks. Below are a few responses shared with me.
Thanks to all who were willing to share their thoughts of what it means to be a shareholder.
Reasonably priced food and products with an emphasis on healthy, locally grown, organic, and fairly traded goods
“To me, it is like the good old days, when people used to barter. We work for you and you give us a discount on your amazing foods.”
“Beautiful, organic produce… Yummy prepared food = no cooking for me when I'm exhausted!!!”
A welcoming community marketplace
“I am proud to know that my participation financially helps with community programs, and the shareholder hours I do help the Co-op keep some costs down.”
“I am part of a like-minded community-owned grocery store. It is active in contributing to the area’s non-profit organizations and supports local farms, businesses, and fairly traded companies. My voice is heard and my vote makes a difference.”
“Being a shareholder at the Co-op means that I am part of a thriving business that reflects my food values. I feel proud of the hard work that is done to bring our community the safest, tastiest, most responsible and sustainable choices for our tables!”
A regenerative business that has a net-positive environmental impact
“As a member, I'm proud of the Co-op for using environmentally friendly design elements in the building of the new Co-op. The retention ponds that allow rainwater to be absorbed into the ground slowly instead of as fast run-off in the parking lot, as well as the heat reclamation system for the store equipment, which recycles energy for hot water, being two examples.”
A sustainable local economy
“Being a shareholder gives me great pride knowing that I am helping support local industry and family farms.”
“For me, being a Co-op member is about putting my money where my mouth is. It's about supporting the ideals and business ethics I believe in.”
Relevant information about food and related products, the environment, and the Cooperative Values and Principles
“The Co-op takes an active role in keeping the shareholders updated on issues concerning the earth, health, and well-being. One example is with the Non-GMO Project.”
Reasonable access to participation in the cooperative
“Board membership is an opportunity to contribute to our vision of the Brattleboro Co-op as a successful, regenerative business that plays a vital leadership role in the community, and to be a part of that leadership. Being a board member is a way of giving, or giving back, to the community. By sharing experience, skills, time, and energy as a board member, you help improve the quality of life here and more widely. It is an exciting opportunity to be a part of constructive and regenerative change.”
Shareholders can wear different hats: besides being a customer, they can also be an employee or a local producer (or both!). All take pride in what the Co-op represents to each one. You may have a different reason from the ones quoted here but one thing we can all agree on is that the Co-op is a business we can call “our very own.”