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BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Shareholder Ownership PDF Print E-mail

February 2017
by Emily Kornheiser 

Sometimes when I'm filling my jar with oats, or selecting the perfect grapefruit I forget that the Co-op is more than a grocery store. And we are. To my eyes two things stand out that make the Co-op the dynamic powerful organization of community that it is: shareholder ownership and our focus on the ends. Both shareholder ownership and our focus on the ends shapes our decisions—both as a board and as an organization­—beyond the bottom line or profit motive. Yes,

of course, we need to make enough money to pay our bills—and there are many of them—but we need to temper this need with a set of higher-wiser goals: our Ends Policies.

As a board, we monitor our progress on these ends with as much vigilance as we monitor our financial bottom line. This is one of the most interesting (and difficult) parts of our work. As Sabine noted in November's Food for Thought we've made incredible progress on many of these ends in the last year: we've significantly increased the affordability of much of our food as well as the sale and promotion of healthy, local, and organic foods. Our Co-op and board has continued to reach out into the community and welcome folks back in. We've continued to invite staff onto our board to run our cooperative. . . and the list goes on from there. . . our board will highlight each of our ends over the next few issues of Food For Thought to explore our progress and plans deeper. However, first, I want to frame this conversation beyond progress and give you some “Food for Thought”—our ends are in relation to each other. It is the balancing of this tension that brings richness, debate, and reflection to both our work and our progress. For instance: the cost of mitigating environmental impacts often means including the full price of environmental impact in the cost of our goods—that is difficult in a context when we are trying to lower the cost of food. However, for me at least—a welcoming community is one where I have reasonable access to participation. And while this language might sound circular, I invite you to bear with me. A welcoming community marketplace is one where we can each see ourselves reflected. . . however for us each to see ourselves reflected we need to compromise sometimes—you all know this—we need to balance each of our ends. Over the next few months—as you think and hear about our success in these ends, think about how they relate to each other, and to what you want from your Co-op.