August 22, 2012 – Congrats to the new Board – I lost by 16 votes.
To the Willy Street Co-op Board. The last time I did this was 2009 (three-year term). Here’s the link to my candidate infor on the co-op’s website.
Here’s the candidate statement I would have given if there’d been time last night at the annual all-member meeting & party – we got 14 candidates for four seats – yowza! so no time for each of us to make a statement. Best of luck to all my fellow candidates!
Hello, friends, neighbors, WSGC Co-op Member-Owners – Back in the spring, I told a friend of mine – someone I’ve known for 20 years – that I was thinking about running for re-election to the food co-op BoD. She knows how long I’ve been on the Board – 7 years, since 2005 – and how long I’ve lived in Madison – almost 30 years – and she said, “oh, you have to run – you’re the institutional memory”.
I thought about that for awhile, because somehow I didn’t like the idea of running on the institutional memory ticket. I realized that it was because even though both the co-op and I are getting older – the co-op’s getting on for 40, and I’m even older than that (just not saying how much 😉 – I don’t want to be the Board member who’s afraid of change and trying new things, always being the one in the meeting saying, “well, back in the day, we did it like this ….”
The biggest change that’s happened since I’ve been on the Board is that the co-op’s gotten bigger. Willy Street’s grown to three locations, 1221 Willy St. and Middleton stores, and the offsite kitchen. The membership has almost doubled, from about 16,000 in 2005 to just a breath away from 30,000 now. This fiscal year the co-op grossed around $34 million, compared to under $20 million in 2005. Even though I – like probably others of you – have had some worries about the co-op changing as it grows, I would not advocate for going back. I really appreciate the benefits that Willy St. as a big organization can provide to members and the community: supporting neighborhood festivals, like this one we’re at – the Fête de Marquette, the Waterfront festival and the Willy Street Fair; vendor loans to farmers; grants to community organizations; and close to 300 good jobs, recognized as one of the best places to work in Madison. Not to mention simply doing more of all the things we love the co-op for – like providing fresh, local, and organic foods at reasonable prices.
Willy Street Co-op is us, the almost 30,000 member owners. Even though I’ve said I’m not running on the old-fogey-stick-in-the-mud ticket, what I remember and want all of us to remember is that no matter how big the co-op gets, each individual is still just as important. And if elected, I do promise to remember the good things we’ve done, as well as where we’ve screwed up, to make sure that the good things keep happening into the future!
For this session, my assigned topic is “Cooperative Structures.” I took this to mean how grocery coops are organized – and in our case, I assumed we were really wanting to hear a little about how that organizational structure works in relation to governance by the Board of Directors. I also thought we might be looking around a little for alternative structures for the Board itself – how many Board members, what kind of committees, etc.
I decided to look at the work of the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (UWCC), and asked Ann Hoyt (who is actually faculty in another department at UW, but works on co-op research) if she might be able to come and speak to us at our May meeting. She was unavailable but sent me some references that I will list on this page – they are about co-op structures, but the examples are agricultural co-ops and credit unions, that are enough different than consumer grocery co-ops that I felt that resources, while helpful, are somewhat peripheral to us.
One recent research project that Hoyt worked on is Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives. There is a project website, where you can read the full, 76 page report – if you wish! I’d like to direct you to the short section on grocery co-ops, that I think give us some ideas for our session tonight.
Here’s a quote from the report, the first paragraph under organizational structures of grocery co-ops:
Retail food cooperatives either operate retail stores or pre-order buying clubs. Cooperatives that operate retail stores are predominantly single-store operations, but some successful stores have expanded to operate two or more stores. The largest of these is the Puget Natural Markets which operates out of nine locations. Several retail food cooperatives have expanded into non-grocery businesses. Most are restaurants and delis, but a few others include natural home products and vertical integration into ownership of farms and orchards. The store-based food cooperatives are characterized by their strong support for natural and organic foods, community activities, local food systems and environmental sustainability. Although many current store-based food cooperatives originally encouraged members to work voluntarily in the store in return for a “member discount,” most stores now hire professional management and operate the store with paid staff.
This paragraph suggests to me that it might be profitable for our meeting to take a look at the websites of some other food co-ops and see how their structures compare to ours.
Here are a couple to explore:
It’s almost embarrassing – not only was I re-elected to the Willy Street Board, I got the most votes. It’s a little nerve wracking too, since makes me worry that people will think I actually know what I am doing … although, I do have to say, one of the few good things about getting older is that I have discovered two things: 1) Being in charge isn’t really all that it’s cracked up to be – there are still tons of things that you can’t control, and you spend a ton of time guessing; 2) We’re all just making it up as we go along.
I’d like to let you know that online balloting is now open at Willy Street Coop. You need to send an email to verify your membership, and get the link to login to vote. This requires a bit of a wait … the procedure is posted on Willy Street’s site: http://www.willystreet.coop/
Thanks for voting, and thanks for your support.
I am running for the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors. I’ve compiled some of the infor I have about myself, scattered all over the web, and placed it here.
I have a Facebook page – it lists that I am a member of the Milwaukee Facebook network, but I live in Madison.
I write a blog: Deb’s Lunch.
I operate a private dining club, that does its best to serve local foods.
My “day job” is librarian – see the Work tab above.
And here is my candidate’s statement for the Board election – this link will take you back to Willy Street’s site, where you can read about all the other candidates, too.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for visiting!
I like Word Press. But somehow I can’t get myself to move my blogger blog over to it – and I can’t get myself to move my dining club web site over to it – so instead I am creating a whole new web site – well, sorta new – taking content from other ones that I have had over the years. Not sure what this means, but what the heck. It’s late.
Title: My big event
Link out: Click here
Come see this really big deal
So you type in the little box, and you can add photos, video, audio, and “media”? wonder what that is …
Strawberry Cake for Rachel Kroencke's Graduation
I think I kinda like how the images go in – they stay right where you put ’em – in blogger, they go to the top and you have to go into the html view and copy and paste to get them into the right place.