April is election time at the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society, aka the Coop Food Stores and the Co-op Community Market. I hope members will consider voting to reelect me to the Board. Here's why:
People who came before us have given us a great gift. It is one of the most powerful economic engines in our community. It provides a decent livelihood to hundreds of people. It anchors the local food system. It’s a hub for people to gather, to act collectively, and to make a difference.
To paraphrase President Obama in his first inaugural address, the job of the Board is to refuse to let the journey end – to keep eyes fixed on the horizon, to lift up the Co-op, and to deliver it safely to future generations.
I wish I could say it will be easy. But the reality is that the Co-op faces challenges like it’s never faced them before.
The good news is that the Co-op is stronger than ever. As someone who served on the Board for a decade, left in 2013, and came back four years later, I can testify that the changes that occurred in my absence are startling – and good!
The Co-op has new management, so the place is run on a day-to-day basis by folks who are smart, compassionate, transparent and visionary. The Board culture has likewise been completely reset, so we have a governing body that is constructive, collaborative and friendly.
The problem is that the grocery business is in a race to the bottom. What does that bottom look like? We’re all couch zombies, buying groceries online, having prepackaged meals delivered by UPS, while all of the wealth and spirit is sucked out of our communities.
In that dystopian Amazonian hellscape, there is no Co-op.
I refuse to let that happen. That’s why I am running for reelection to the Board.
Here’s the world I want to live in: There’s a thriving Co-op, its shelves brimming with healthy local food, at stores that are community hubs – places where people hang out -- to learn, to meet their neighbors, and to feel connected. And there can be no thriving Co-op without thriving employees – people who earn a good living, are treated fairly, and feel like the Co-op’s future and their future are the same thing.
Making sure that’s the world we get – lifting up the Co-op, delivering it safely to future generations – that’s a very, very difficult job. But, as President Kennedy said at his inaugural address, I do not shrink from that responsibility – I welcome it.
This year there are eight excellent people competing for the four available seats on the board. So, whatever the outcome, the Co-op will be in good hands. My hands are those of experience, and of a deep love of what the Co-op is – what sets it apart from other businesses. So I hope you will consider casting one of your four votes for me.