Board Report: January/February

Resilience and the EEFC

It may not be the latest buzzword (“baked into a deep dive,” anyone?), but I think we can all agree that the time for “resilience” is upon us, whether we like it or not. Besides, it’s actually a pretty useful word, and its current popular usage fills a void and doesn’t stray all that far from its prior meaning. It feels as if a word previously used to describe particularly hearty individuals of the animal and vegetable kingdoms has broadened, and become a more conscious expectation/goal for our institutions and systems, for the species, even the planet. With all of the challenges facing us these days – environmental, political, economic, moral and spiritual – it is righteous, intelligent and timely adaptation that is required of us.

So how do we, and how should we, “bake” resilience into our co-op?  One active (as opposed to reactive) way it’s done is to come together once a year at our annual meeting to discuss the state of our enterprise. Cultivating a diversity of opinion and regularly exercising the democratic muscle is a source of institutional resilience, even in the socially limited circumstances we now face. It is a group act of continuity. On November 14th, we did just that, with about 60 Members attending, hearing reports from our Board President Sam Applefield, GM Maura Holliday and our Finance Manager Shawn McCullough. What those attending heard was in some real way a story of resilience, a chronicle of the steps taken by our management to deal with the mammoth, and sometimes frightening uncertainties, that the COVID pandemic has presented.  We took care of our staff. We took advantage of the government loans that became available. We adjusted our hours, and instituted prudent protective measures with the goal of keeping our community safe amidst uncertainty. In doing these things, we have preserved our co-op.

A second, active way that our co-op is resilient lies in our annual board elections. New blood, different points of view, new ideas, diverse histories all feed the dynamism of this organization, and equip it to function effectively under changing circumstances. Eight members stepped up this year to run for the four open board positions. It was the second largest group of candidates that we have had in 11 years. The board welcomes Ariel Barlow, Marty Seltman, Jenise Brown and Trevor Ring.

A more reactively resilient step taken this year was an overhaul of our bylaws. This overhaul came as a direct result of our co-op’s governance experiences of 2014-2017.  Substantial disagreements during that period among members led to changes on the board and within management, and the bylaws changes that have been recently passed by the membership reflect a lot of hard work by the more recent boards to learn from those experiences, and from other co-ops.

And finally, as part of the board’s commitment to creating and nurturing a governance culture of active committee work, we have recently created a Resiliency Committee devoted to helping the board understand some of the newer challenges that we face.  The committee is in “early days,” and can benefit by more member input and participation. Please consider joining this committee, or any of our other committees, by contacting the board.

Tom Pandaleon, EEFC Board Member