|Shareholder Forum: Thoughts on the Annual Meeting|
by Kathy Carr and Barry Aleshnik
Back in the November Food for Thought, the Shareholder Forum (SF) article was titled “Our Co-op is the Work of Many Hands and Many Dreams.” This aptly sums up the Annual Meeting which was held on November 8th at Scott Farm. With this in mind, a number of SF participants submitted comments about the Annual Meeting.
On the whole, the people shared that they were very pleased that the meeting was well attended and that “the meeting was positive in tone and collegiality.” There was also much praise for the food created by the many gifted hands in the BFC kitchen.
There was a lot of appreciation for the ‘World Cafe,’ a facilitated activity to get us all to share our ideas to tackle issues like affordability, community outreach, and making the Co-op accessible to a wider segment of the community. Many people felt that it was a very productive and effective session, and there was a palpable feeling of individual voices and collective brainstorming really being heard.
Several people commented on the affordability issue, including “[this] discussion was of interest to me… one person at our table shared… the Co-op can do all sorts of things to make [it] more affordable, but if a person is living on minimum wage, the Wal-Marts will be more affordable for them… when your income is low, you don’t have many choices… it behooves the Co-op to support Fight for 15…”
Another commented, “I really liked the Annual Meeting. I thought the exercise was good and brought folks together and created good ideas, and I liked the time-line too… it’d be nice to see local producers present and local products tabled… and more employees in attendance…”
Closing the meeting out, there was a question and answer period. Several took the opportunity to pose questions to Sabine and she fielded them with humor, sincerity, and integrity. A few comments wished for more time with the World Cafe, and also for the question and answer period. One question revealed that many people would like to hear more details about the “Code of Conduct” policy being reviewed/rewritten by the Board of Directors.
The take-away from this year’s Annual Meeting was a feeling that many are experiencing a lighter, brighter energy that is being created through the work of many hands and many dreams. By showing up, sharing our views, and listening to each other, we are creating a more cohesive community. While Co-op questions of affordability, community outreach, transparency, wages, by-laws, and, of course, the parking lot, are all ongoing issues, the feeling is that the door is open and we are all welcome at the Co-op table.