At its annual November retreat, the incoming Board of Directors established five priorities for its work during the 2018-19 year: the visioning process, by-law and policy revisions, owner engagement, monitoring and support of our recently-hired General Manager, and enhancing the relationship between staff and the Board. These priorities are clearly related, and a common theme is the relationship between the Board and the co-op’s core constituencies, owners and staff, as we move forward to envision and implement a strong and impactful future for Common Ground.
Foremost among equals is our Visioning Project. Successful visioning is needed to guide us in everything else that we do. This year, we plan to have working groups, composed of Board members, owners, and staff, to investigate the feasibility, benefits, and liabilities of the various directions that have been developed during last year’s visioning work.
Bylaw and policy revisions will be a high priority as the Board works to implement the participation of staff members on the Board of Directors. Clarifying the role of staff in both governance and operational decisions is also intimately related to the visioning process, given that the value of providing an alternative model of economic organization, including possible movement toward a solidarity model of shared worker-consumer ownership, is one possible direction on the visioning agenda.
In the area of owner outreach, the Board plans to focus on making more digital content and communication available to owners, in addition to the ongoing work of improving face-to-face owner engagement at meetings and other events. The Board is working on ways for owners to participate more through working groups and study sessions and seeks to make its policies more accessible and understandable to owners and staff.
In a cooperative, relationships are key. In addition to enhancing our engagement with owners, we also consider it of the highest importance to build effective and representative channels of communication between the Board and the entire staff. As with all of the other areas discussed here, work on this was begun during 2017-18, but we need to focus on it to bring it to fruition.
Finally, we are excited to have a new GM and to see the co-op’s sales and finances steadily improving under his leadership. Gary is new to the culture and institutions of co-ops, however, so the Board will continue to direct significant energy toward supporting and educating him -- and giving him the opportunity to educate us -- as he makes himself at home at Common Ground.