Why I am grateful for being a board member of the Brattleboro Food Co-op
by Jon Megas-Russell
In July of 2012 I attended my first Brattleboro Food Co-op board meeting as a shareholder interested in running for a board seat in that November's election. I was welcomed with open arms and smiles by a group of people who had never met me. During that first meeting, a guest speaker made a presentation on the importance of the Co-op continuing to be a regenerative community hub. This turned into a board discussion about future plans to continue the Co-op’s growth as a center for recycling, composting, renewable energy, organic/non-GMO food items, supporting local vendors, with the intent to positively impact downtown Brattleboro. What hit me during this conversation was the warmth, honesty, and genuine authenticity each board member brought to the table throughout the meeting.
It felt like both a professional and a family atmosphere, and a place that one could contribute to the strategic vision of the Co-op through diverse perspectives. This was an inspiring evening for me. I was already an evangelist for sustainability, but I did not yet fully understand the concept that a cooperative grocery store could impact the community in a regenerative manner. That evening, I left excited and decided that running for a seat on the Brattleboro Food Co-op board was something that I wanted to pursue. I view that event as a microcosm of my time on the board, which has been an authentic experience every time I walk into a meeting. It is truly fulfilling to be a part of a board of directors in which each director brings their true self to every meeting and sincerely cares for our shareholders and their opinions. I am grateful for the authenticity of the Brattleboro Food Co-op Board of Directors.
From my first meeting as an elected board member in December 2012, I have always been encouraged to ask questions and speak my mind. Being my first time on a board of directors, it was quite empowering to know that I could come to each meeting and contribute as an active member. I was shocked to hear recently that there are perceptions that the board shuns opinions and operates with a group-think mentality. This notion is far from the truth. At board meetings, I experience lively discussions filled with honesty, passion, and integrity, and with great diversity of opinions. From conversations about monitoring reports, to setting the strategic vision of the Co-op, and even to inquiring about financials, there is a culture of open communication. To be able to experience the board of directors’ welcome and diverse perspectives, honest dialogue, and critical thinking truly exemplifies our yearning for a sound democratic process. I am grateful for the open communication of the Brattleboro Food Co-op Board of Directors.
It is very powerful to witness and participate in the Co-op working towards being a force for good in our community. From providing educational programs in our schools, implementing programs that make healthy food more accessible to all people, providing a space for families to bring their children to play while they shop, and even hosting gluten-free and vegan potlucks, the Co-op is making a meaningful impact for the people of this community. With large-scale composting, a bulk food section, and solar panels on the roof, the Co-op is creating a road map for a sustainable and regenerative grocery store that weighs its impact on the surrounding community and ultimately the Earth. While as a board member I do not partake in the day-to-day operations of the Co-op, I still get to engage in such wonderful projects as defining the 100-Year Plan or working on outreach for our Food for All program. I am grateful for the impressive community impact of the Brattleboro Food Co-op.
If you may be interested in running for a seat on the Board of Directors, come attend a meeting on the first Monday of every month at 5:15pm. If you’d like to speak with a board member to learn more about the Board of Directors, please reach out to me, Jon Megas-Russell, or another board member, and we would be more than happy to meet with you.
The Board of Directors will be tabling on Saturday, March 22 from 2 to 4 pm in the store. Stop by and have a cup of tea!