At the same time, it is our success that is most likely to draw the attention of larger national health food chain stores and make them interested in moving to Bloomington. We would like to maintain our excellent position in the community. One of the main reasons for this desire is the way that co-operatives work. The co-op structure gives you a vote on what we do and how we grow.
How does this work? Every spring we have two or three board positions opening up. Applications are in all of the stores right now. We need directors who have an understanding of the importance of protecting our local food system during challenging times. We need people who have skills in communicating with others and generating positive action toward the common good. We need people who have experience with business finance and management. We need people who care and have the respect of those they care about. We need people who want to make their community stronger and better.
Fortunately, we know that there are many of you with these qualities and more. If you have a strong sense of where the Co-op needs to direct its energy in the coming years or know someone who does, now is the time to fill out and mail in that board application. Your term will not begin until November, but we would like to meet you and have you meet us at any regular board meeting to get acquainted.
A board is a team. As that team, we deal with making the policies that help to form and guide the General Manager's decisions. There are very specific guidelines for monitoring these policies and making sure that our business is in compliance with them. The board does not manage day-by-day in-store decisions such as what specific brands to carry—rather, the board decides by majority vote the long-term direction of the co-op. You are invited to become a board member if you are interested in sharing your vision and expertise.
Pick up your board application packet today or talk to that friend who is passionate about making all of the BCS stores even better. In the co-op business model, it is up to you to help steer the ship. Take the opportunity.
For the Board of Directors
To assist new board members in understanding the process that is necessary for considering future expansion projects, the March meeting focused on reviewing steps that were taken prior to opening the Elm Heights store. Several years before a decision is made, ideas and inspirations are shared which generate many possible future scenarios. Eventually, a common vision coalesces.
Once the vision begins to take shape in the group mind, the real work begins. The board and the General Manager must work closely together in order for any project to be successful. The project must first of all meet the co-operative Ends Policy guidelines. The board then decides what they need to learn and/or be made aware of in order to make informed decisions.
The GM must operate within all the appropriate policy limitations. These are all clearly stated in the Policy Manual adopted many years ago which states all the rules the co-op board and GM must abide by. Adherence to these policies are monitored monthly.
Prior to the Elm Heights project, the board reviewed Ends, financial conditions and activities, planning and budgeting, asset protection, and board communication policies. We then decided to learn more about market feasibility, financial feasibility, design feasibility and internal readiness. Professional consultants were called upon in all areas and numerous studies were completed during the years preceding the final decision to "go ahead."
The board then reviewed how best to present their findings to the member-owners and gather support for the enterprise. We brainstormed possible questions the member-owners might have in order to make sure we actually knew the answers. Our aim was always to build a shared understanding of the undertaking we were embarking upon.
With the Elm Heights store, member-owner enthusiasm was very high and the project was birthed successfully. You might wonder why we need to review the guidelines for expansion projects again so soon. The answer is that it is never too early to begin to plan for possible future scenarios. It is our job to be aware of the trends in other grocery stores and continue to fine tune our niche.
We want our Bloomingfoods stores to be so well-loved by our member-owners that even with major chain stores carrying more organic and local products, we still have an edge. You, our member-owners are what create that edge. With your annual vote for directors, filling out the annual survey, and your input to store staff, you have a major say in the company. Only in a co-operative business model is this possible.
Because the GM and board members are often behind-the-scenes, it may seem that we are totally running the show without your input. Think of us, instead, as the motor, and you are the fuel. We can't do anything without you. The co-operative came into being because you, the member-owners, wanted to take charge of your food supply. All of our policies were created based on feedback over the years by you, our member-owners. Policies have changed when you let us know that certain changes were important to you and to the co-op as a whole. Now, we are over 11,000 member-owners strong. It is no easy task to keep everyone happy; we will never achieve this goal. But, we, the board, the GM and the staff, all attempt to make decisions that we think you want us to make.
It may not be as easy to feel that your voice is heard as it was when the co-op was a tiny store operated by a few hippies, but our hearts are still in the same place. We want to be "your" store. That takes co-operation from all of us. We would like to be a place where you feel welcome and at home, like an old time corner grocery. The society at large, however, works entirely against this. "They say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." Every time you take a minute to offer a friendly comment, you increase the quality of everyone's experience. Thank you for continuing to live the dream.
We can start the year off by celebrating that we are wealthy in healthy food. Having five stores filled with delicious goodies makes all of our resolve to "eat better this year” so much easier to achieve. Board members who were not snowed in like I was on the big party day in December enjoyed a scrumptious banquet catered by Bloomingfoods.
One of the perks for taking on the work of the board is getting to share a good meal together once a month before our meetings. It is easy to forget how important nutritious food is, not only to create healthy bodies, but to foster healthy minds. Sharing a meal gives us a chance to appreciate each other while we savor the tastes of the evening. We hope you have had the opportunity to share your favorite dishes with family and friends during this season.
The Board of Directors is happy to present the results of the Bloomington Cooperative Services (BCS) Board election, as announced at the annual member-owner meeting on October 21. The 2007-2008 seven-member Board of Directors will consist of the following:
Carol Bridges (re-elected)
Mary Beth Haas (newly elected)
Gretchen Handlos (newly elected)
Joann Orrange (re-elected)
Joellan Muyskens (1 year remaining in term)
Spyridon (Strats) Stratigos (1 year remaining in term)
Donna Stroup (1 year remaining in term)
The downside of a contested election is that not all candidates can win. Our thanks go out to Dr. Scott Little for his interest and participation in this election. Keep in mind that we will have three seats up for election next year.
The 2007 BCS Annual Meeting was held at Daisy Hinkle-Garten Farmstead on the late afternoon of October 21st. Music from local band Priceless kicked off festivities at 3pm. For the kids, there was ring toss, chalkboard drawing, football, sack races, and bales of straw for climbing - all on the grassy lawn of the farmstead, located at Highway 45 and Pete Ellis Road.