Saturday, 30 April 2011 19:00
By 12th Moon,
On Tuesday, April 12, Council conducted its monthly meeting at The Space @ GreenStar with nine of our thirteen members present. We took a few minutes to honor the passing of a local, and regional, food hero, Gary Redmond. Our thoughts and good wishes go out to his family and the whole Regional Access crew; we will miss his warmth, humor and concern for our local food systems. Thank you, Gary, for being you.
During Brandon Kane's monthly Interim General Manager (IGM) report, we heard of the current improvements being made to the shopping cart storage area and the new "Take a Bag, Leave a Bag" corral in the West-End store's entrance. Brandon also reported that both stores are performing well, with steady improvements above expectations at Oasis. We learned of new language that will be used in all future job postings for openings at GreenStar, expressing our desire to be as diverse and as inclusive of all peoples in our community as can be. At the end of the IGM's report we went into executive session briefly to discuss two separate personnel issues.
Next we fine-tuned a formal letter from GreenStar to be sent to our representatives in Albany and Washington, DC requesting a ban on hydrofracking for natural gas in our state and in the whole of the Marcellus region. We join in this endeavor with many other cooperatives and other businesses across the state, as well as a groundswell of individuals working to protect our natural habitat and water supplies into the future. We have conveyed our wishes to protect our environment and to look at our natural resources as something to cherish, protect and enjoy, not just as resources to extract for personal and corporate gain.
A special second Council meeting was scheduled for May 24 to complete any unfinished business prior to the seating of new Council members in June. We plan on utilizing much of this meeting to start writing new policies using the Policy Governance model, to give us a head start on the work we will undertake during a special weekend retreat in July with our consultant from Cooperative Development Services.
Acknowledging that more than a year has passed since our last GM left, we approved a proposal from our Personnel Committee to conduct a performance evaluation of our Interim General Manager during the next few weeks.
After our mid-meeting break, we conducted a second round of discussions regarding our thoughts about Council compensation above and beyond the current super-worker discount given to Council members. Since our members voted to allow Council to determine any additional compensation, within limits, we have had a few discussions without conclusion, as the range of ideas and concerns are diverse and somewhat perplexing. We spoke of concerns such as the recruitment of new Council members, adequate compensation for the time and value of the work we do, as well as retention and the high turnover we have experienced in past years. The issue was returned to our Finance Committee to continue to work out the details.
Minutes of our two March meetings were reviewed and after amendments to the March 8 meeting minutes they were both approved.
A revised Transitional General Manager Job Description was presented by our Personnel Committee next. This led to much discussion as to how specific the language within the job description should be as we look to rewrite our policies according to the Policy Governance model, which we have committed to adopting this year. Suggested amendments were sent back to the committee to work on for a return to one of our May meeting agendas.
Our next agenda item was the selection of three Council members to attend the Consumer Cooperative Management Association's (CCMA) annual conference. Each summer, representatives of co-ops, both staff and board members, as well as leaders in national cooperative organizations, come together to attend workshops, network, compare notes and experiences and raise questions on issues that we all share. This year, Council members Kash Iraggi-Wiggins, Ethan Winn and myself will be flying to San Diego to visit the Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Co-op and to immerse ourselves in the larger co-op world at this exciting and informative conference.
Next I reported to Council on my attendance and appreciation of a three-day series of informative workshops on the topic of "Undoing Racism," conducted by Reverend David Billings of The Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond. Five staff members, myself and at least a hundred other people from various local organizations, including the Greater Ithaca Activities Center, Ithaca Youth Bureau, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), and Ithaca City offices participated in these very enlightening and historically-relevant workshops. I strongly recommend these workshops, and suggest you try to attend them the next time they are given in our area.
Lastly, I reported to Council on a road trip that I took to an open house at "Farm to Table Co-Producers" in Kingston, NY with the late Gary Redmond of Regional Access and Matt LeRoux from CCE. Farm to Table is housed in a sprawling facility once used by IBM to employ 7,500 workers, and consists of 21,000 square feet of central kitchens and food storage areas. Produce arrives from local and regional farms and is processed, jarred or flash frozen, to be sold at the local Farmers Market and in stores across NY and used to produce various prepared items such as salsa, tomato sauce, frozen quiche and soups as well as pickled veggies. We were very impressed with the operations and the attendance of representatives from surrounding school districts, as well as farmers, all looking to make local and regional food more secure and to support their local economies.
By Laura Buttenbaum,
What is a co-op? This seemingly straightforward question can elicit a wide range of responses, from visceral and intrinsic to completely organizational and economic. According to the International Cooperative Association, "A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons unite...