By Carol McFarland
Vice President, Moscow Food Co-op Board of Directors
Working on the Board of Directors at the Moscow Food Co-op is a true privilege and a dynamic experience. A lot has happened with both the Co-op and the Board in the year since our last fall retreat. We’ve had some loss and a lot of growth. We’ve been happy to bring four new directors in, and I’m so proud of how quickly they have come into their roles! We’re all getting on the same page and putting some deep consideration into our job of forward thinking for the Co-op – and just in time for our fall retreat!
This year we felt we’d all get the most out of our first off-site Board retreat in several years. We went to a training and cross-pollination workshop in Portland that was hosted by the consulting co-op Columinate. While attending, we were able to meet board members from five other co-ops in the Pacific Northwest and hear about their experiences. The topic of this event was a deep dive into looking at our “Vision of ‘We’” and our first Cooperative Principle of Voluntary and Open Membership. We spent our time scrutinizing how we can ensure that the way people experience our Co-op reinforces the prominent sign on our storefront that proclaims, ‘Everyone Welcome.’ We discussed efforts to become truly inclusive of all members of our community, and how that looks on the Palouse.
An insightful national survey for food co-ops was shared with us and shed light on different levels of engagement with the Co-op that can be broadly broken out into three categories: Owners, Non-owner Shoppers, and Potential Shoppers. Within these categories are Co-op Loyalists, Uninvolved Owners; “Why join?” Shoppers, Specialty Shoppers; Unaware Prospects, Aware Prospects, and Negative Perception Prospects. This launched a discussion on how to connect with people in our community who are at these levels and support them toward a higher level of engagement.
We want to do what it takes for everyone on the Palouse to know they are welcome at the Moscow Food Co-op. Working towards that goal includes unpacking what it means to be accessible to racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse groups. We were also able to acknowledge that inclusivity is something the management team already works toward every day, and celebrate the big boost to the FLOWER program, which is intended to boost Co-op accessibility to those affected by food insecurity. We are excited to use the momentum from this retreat to keep visioning our Co-op at the heart of the community we love.
It was an honor to attend this workshop with our group of thoughtful and committed people. Everyone was so enthusiastic that our driving times, breaks, and meals were all spent discussing how we can be our best as a Board. We are unified by the desire to help our Co-op keep serving good food to all the good people of the Palouse.
As we continue our discussions on this topic, please know that we would love to hear from you! What is your current level of engagement with the Co-op? What would be supportive on our end to help you ‘level up’ your engagement? Do you feel welcome in the Co-op? Do you have friends that might not? Our goal is for the whole community to love the Co-op like we do! Email us your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.