1. Why are you interested in serving on the board of BCS?
I feel that Bloomingfoods has the opportunity and the responsibility to be an integral part of improving people’s lives and strengthening the community in and around Bloomington. I would love to be a part of the decision-making process as well as the future direction of the Coop. I believe that I would be able to contribute a diverse set of ideas and experiences to the Board if I were elected.
2. What experience or involvement have you had with Bloomingfoods or other cooperatives?
I have been a member of Bloomingfoods since moving to Indiana, shopped there regularly, have attended a board meeting and have been involved in community activities sponsored by Bloomingfoods. In New Zealand, I helped organize community events for our local food cooperative, as well as participated in a number of local plant and food distribution efforts.
3. What has been your experience in working cooperatively with small groups of people (such as: being a member of a committee, sports team, or volunteer as part of a work group for any organization)?
I have been an active part of many teams from countless Basketball teams growing up, to being the chapter President of my sorority in college where I managed an intimate group of chapter officers in addition to the whole chapter, and have also served as a member of my University’s Alumni Board Council. I have travelled extensively overseas to Asia, Australia, Africa, and Europe and have had the opportunity to see highly effective cooperatives operate in a vast number of ways in people’s lives and I believe I can translate that experience to help direct the vision of Bloomingfoods in the community. I have also been a member of community and professional theater, where I have had the opportunity to work creatively with an ensemble of people.
4. Please share any professional, volunteer, or life experience you have had that will provide insight when serving on the BCS Board of Directors. Include knowledge, skills, formal training, and education that will contribute to the mission of our co-op.
When working as the General Manager of a small Organic/Biodynamic gardening center, Farmer D Organics, in Atlanta, GA, I learned the great importance of working with a team, particularly how important it is to value your employees and the work they do to ensure less turnover and greater worker experiences. I also played an integral part is cleaning up the finances as part of my role as GM. In this circumstance I acted on behalf of the employees to the owners, so I believe that I would be able to transfer this knowledge to work with the General Manager within the bounds of the Ends statements and Governance limits, to ensure that Bloomingfoods provides a beneficial experience not only to members, but also employees. I received a double degree in Chemistry and International Relations from Carnegie Mellon University. I have spent the last eight years teaching, travelling and working to improve sustainable efforts, run businesses and occasionally fundraise around the country and the world. I have a built a website, kriswiltsee.com for those interested in learning more about my experience.
5. How do your values and lifestyle align with the values and mission of the co-op?
I currently live on a homestead in Brown County where I spend part of my week growing food, raising poultry and bees. I eat locally grown food, buy local crafts and contribute to the local or sustainable economy whenever possible. I work as an herbalist, teaching classes on how to live and heal on what grows in your surroundings.
6. Given the stated Ends of BCS, what do you see as the primary role of BCS in the community?
I see the role of BCS in the community as three tiered. Primarily, BCS has created a venue for local, sustainable healthy food to be bought and sold, and in order to continue fulfilling that role; it needs to remain profitable; this allows for expansion and increased availability. It is also important to acknowledge that it also serves as a place of employment in the community. It can be a place where people want to work, and BCS could lead the way to creating employment wages and policies, within the bounds of profitability, that would serve as a model for the community.
7. What are opportunities and challenges you see for BCS in the future expression of these Ends?
I believe that the greatest challenge is balancing profitability, proximity and availability with the need to remain connected to the needs members, the employees and the community aspect of BCS. Secondarily, I would like to see if it is possible to increase the amount of locally produced foods into the hot bars and catering services where possible.
8. Please share any other brief statement that you feel is particularly important regarding your potential service as a member of the board.
I would really like the opportunity to see BCS become a leader in all aspects of business: profitability, customer experience and employment policies. I would look forward to the opportunity to work with the General Management of BCS in order to see how this can be achieved.