Thinking “Outside the Walls” of the Co-op

If you garden, a lack of rain puts you in touch with the power of the Earth over your life. We adjust to these weather changes as best we can and trust other trends will be in our favor. If one crop suffers this year, maybe another one will flourish.

Humans are pretty malleable and can be especially creative when push comes to shove. At this time in our society there is increasing awareness that more forces than just the weather are affecting our food system. Grocery shelves would empty quickly if transportation from distant distributors were disrupted due to economic challenges or environmental disasters of which we are ever more aware. Locally, we are lucky so far.

Life is good here. But it takes more than luck to keep it happening. We who are elected by the owner-members of BCS know that we have to be well-informed and well-connected to as many other groups of people working to enhance the quality of life in our area as we can, in order to keep not only our food system functioning well in our three grocery stores, but all the systems which make life here healthy, ecologically sane and enjoyable.

With that in mind, we feel it is imperative, as George Huntington our general manager has said, “to be everywhere important.” That is, to be thinking “outside the walls” of the co-op and present at events that raise the energy of the town. With this in mind, we recently visited the new Middle Way House Food Works kitchen to discuss with Donna Storm how we might benefit each other’s operations. We talked with Maggie Sullivan who works with the Local Grower’s Guild and other organization to create a Bloomington Kitchen Incubator to help producers add products to their food lines.

BCS also facilitates new co-ops in other cities with their start-up plans and is the major food service vendor at much-loved events such as Lotus Festival. Our purpose flows far outside the boundaries of our buildings to encourage cooperation in all forms. With this focus, we are very pleased to have a board of directors who each take these same principles out into their own personal lives and spheres of influence.

Re-elected this year are Art Sherwood, who co-owns LIFE Certified Organic Farm, teaches small business entrepreneurship at Indiana State University, and trains boards of other co-ops throughout the country. Janice Lilly brings her expertise in economics to our table and has served IU and the Bloomington Farmer’s Market. Donna Stroup is a full-steam-ahead organizer working with homeowners organizations and IU Radio and Television Services. Continuing their terms on the BCS board, Mary Beth Haas dedicates her non-board hours to controlling the finances at Bybee Stone Company, a major local business, and helping others create healthy lives. Tim Clougher is part of the team at the Community Kitchen, feeding the hungry for free in Bloomington. Carol Bridges (that’s me) continues teaching, writing and making art with a vision of a loving world.

The entire board has solid business experience as well as years of practice communicating with groups of people. We are very glad we get to put our skills together with the support of our 8000+ owner-members to make not just BCS but everywhere we all go just a little bit better for our having passed through.

And please remember, even though we take an uncontested election as a sign that you are satisfied with the direction we are going, you are still welcome to take a more active roll yourself by joining the team. Let us know if you might like to run for the board next year. You may have a set of skills and a circle of connections to make our community-building even stronger.

We are grateful for the bounty of food we share as well as the wealth of experience and friendship that we can draw from to keep our “luck” happening while we glide through the changes that the planet has in mind. When you sit down to your next scrumptious meal, let your thanks spread out to all the growers, packers, truckers, organizers, shopkeepers, cleaner-uppers, cashiers and creators – as well as the Earth itself, soil, rain, sun, compost, seed and shovel. It takes all kind to make the world.