Board News

Cooperation is a State of Mind

ImageWhen asked recently:  “Which of the cooperative principles attracted you to the co-op?”  I realized that long before I knew there was an actual list of International Cooperative Principles, I noticed there were people who cooperated with each other to make the world a better place. A lot of these people back in the 1970s seemed to hang out at the local co-op grocery store.

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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.

Where We Are Headed: A Message from Our Board

Where We Are Headed

Each year, the Bloomington Co-operative Services board of directors goes on retreat for two days to discuss the big picture for the organization as a whole. We ask questions based on what is happening in the world, in the lives of our member-owners, and with the local, regional and national food systems. With the help of our excellent facilitator, Michael Healy of the CDS Consulting Co-op, we come up with what might be called a guidance system which can be followed by our General Manager.

Our General Manager,George Huntington, and many of the Bloomingfoods staff must make thousands of decisions each year that will, to the best of their knowledge, keep the Bloomingfoods stores operating successfully. With over 8000 member-owners and hundreds of employees, this is no easy task. It is the job of the board of directors to provide both inspiration in a given direction and a set of limitations that prevent things we absolutely do not want to occur.

We fill our obligations by creating policies which the General Manager must follow. These policies are examined each month, a few at a time, to make sure they are still relevant and that the GM is in compliance with them. One of the important policies we make is called the Ends Policy. This is a short description of what we want the GM to work toward in the foreseeable future. This year’s retreat focused on re-wording that Ends Policy.

Our Ends Policy now reads: “Because of BCS, people in Bloomington and South Central Indiana will have:
* a market for local, organic and healthy products, meeting the needs of consumers and producers,
* increased cooperative ownership that strengthens the local economy and community,
* a model of sustainable, profitable business,
* increased understanding of the local food system and its importance.”

These goals are what we perceive to be the reasons our member-owners shop at Bloomingfoods. Our conversations with you, your votes choosing directors, and your input in filling out the Annual Survey are some of the ways that we glean information about what you want BCS to achieve in the community. The more you participate in a conscious, caring way, the more we can fulfill your highest hopes for creating the kind of world you want to live in.

We realize that we can’t change the whole world just because we hold some high ideals, but we can make our daily world experience something which is nourishing, engaging and co-operative in the businesses and social situations we are part of. We figure that if you know our priorities and those priorities have been based on your input, we will all be helping each other to reach our mutual goals. Thanks to all of you, staff, member-owners, and customers, who, even in the smallest ways, make shopping at Bloomingfoods more than just getting some groceries.

Carol Bridges, Secretary
Board of Directors

Where We Are Headed - Ends Policy

Each year, the Bloomingfoods/Bloomington Cooperative Services (BCS) board of directors goes on retreat for two days to discuss the big picture for the organization as a whole. We ask questions based on what is happening in the world, in the lives of our member-owners, and with the local, regional and national food systems. With the help of our excellent facilitator, Michael Healy of the CDS Consulting Co-op, we come up with what might be called a guidance system which can be followed by our general manager.

Our general manager, George Huntington, and many of the Bloomingfoods staff must make thousands of decisions each year that will, to the best of their knowledge, keep the Bloomingfoods stores operating successfully. With over 8000 member-owners and hundreds of employees, this is no easy task. It is the job of the board of directors to provide both inspiration in a given direction and a set of limitations that prevent things we absolutely do not want to occur.

We fill our obligations by creating policies which the general manager must follow. These policies are examined each month, a few at a time, to make sure they are still relevant and that the GM is in compliance with them. One of the important policies we make is called the Ends Policy. This is a short description of what we want the GM to work toward in the foreseeable future. This year’s retreat focused on re-wording that Ends Policy.

Our Ends Policy now reads:

Because of BCS, people in Bloomington and South Central Indiana will have:

• a market for local, organic and healthy products, meeting the needs of consumers and producers;

• increased cooperative ownership that strengthens the local economy and community;

• a model of sustainable, profitable business;

• increased understanding of the local food system and its importance.

These goals are what we perceive to be the reasons our member-owners shop at Bloomingfoods. Our conversations with you, your votes choosing directors, and your input in filling out the Annual Survey are some of the ways that we glean information about what you want BCS to achieve in the community. The more you participate in a conscious, caring way, the more we can fulfill your highest hopes for creating the kind of world you want to live in.

We realize that we can’t change the whole world just because we hold some high ideals, but we can make our daily world experience something which is nourishing, engaging and cooperative in the businesses and social situations we are part of. We figure that if you know our priorities and those priorities have been based on your input, we will all be helping each other to reach our mutual goals. Thanks to all of you -- staff, member-owners, and customers -- who, even in the smallest ways, make shopping at Bloomingfoods more than just getting some groceries.

 

Carol Bridges, Secretary

Bloomingfoods/BCS Board of Director

 

Last Call for Board Candidates

Last chance, only two seats available this year! We sometimes hear comments from member-owners that they would like a choice when voting for board members. The last election was uncontested. That could mean you are really happy with the current board’s guidance of Bloomington Cooperative Services -- or that you just could not take the time to get involved last year.

To have a choice means there have to be more members running for office than there are vacancies. Now is the time to pick up a Candidate Packet at any of the Bloomingfoods stores and show us your interest. We like to have a pool of people from which you can choose the next board members, so that even if you are not voted in for the upcoming term, we know we can count on you in the future should there be an unexpected vacancy or for a future term.

Currently, you have a chance to work with six other dedicated and competent board members who are responsible for setting the policies that guide the direction of BCS. Being on the board is an excellent way to serve our member-owners and the Bloomington community in general. BCS actively supports numerous healthful living and local art events, plus contributes food to organizations which feed the hungry in our town. We also do our best to model sustainable business practices so that others can see it works. Now is your chance to be part of this very important undertaking, one more way to keep the planet alive and well. We hope you will join us this year.

Carol Bridges, Secretary
Bloomingfoods/BCS Board of Directors