From #106, May-June 2003
The Editor NotesB Y D A V E G U T K N E C H T
Each year the Cooperative Grocers Association (CGA) reports impress me with their joint accomplishments as well as their determination to move on to higher levels of collaboration. This year, thanks to contributions by co-op managers and CGA executive directors, the collective impact of these co-ops is underscored by a few summary statistics (see the chart on p.9). Eighty-one local co-ops participating in the CGAs have over 300,000 active members, serve an average of nearly 80,000 customers per day, and are generating nearly $500,000,000 in annual sales.
The natural/organic grocery market continues to move on as well, and food co-ops are entering a new era-for most of them, their second thirty years. The shape and strength of a "virtual chain" of co-ops is being debated and determined at this time. Readers can expect to hear more from the board of directors and others in the Cooperative Grocers Associations about strategic directions and choices.
Cooperative Business Journal
Many food co-ops are members of the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), our leadership body for development and defense of cooperatives. But not very many food co-ops take adequate advantage of the excellent NCBA publication, Cooperative Business Journal, edited by Jeannine Kenney, a monthly covering national and international cooperative stories and issues. Free subscriptions are available for staff and directors of member co-ops. In addition, inexpensive bulk subscriptions provide co-ops with an excellent member education tool that stimulates and informs readers about the wide world of cooperatives. To get more subscriptions, contact Jill Stevenson of NCBA at 202/383-5471.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the June 12-14 CCMA conference (Consumer Cooperative Management Association) in Lexington, Kentucky. The program and registration materials were released in early April and were to be mailed shortly. Along with an excellent schedule of educational and social events, note that this year's conference will also include a day-long session of the popular co-op membership and marketing training, Let's SOAR. To access CCMA materials, visit: www.cals.wisc.edu/cos/.
More on war
We have entered a new era in other ways as well. The previous edition's editorial, "Against War," provoked some good debate on taking a stand against war. That the response was mixed is not surprising, given the highly charged political environment as well as the complexities of individual vs. cooperative responses.
As before, I suggest that co-op leaders have an obligation to help others understand that our cooperative values and mission are being undermined, and that attempting to pursue purposes such as sustainable production or economic democracy will encounter the institutions of poison and war. Today, for example, we see not only the well-known attempts to undermine organic standards, but renewed proposals to exempt all military production and operations from environmental regulation. Either we counter this madness or we abandon our values and mission. However uncomfortable it makes some people, the job of cooperatives includes education, and education has played a major part in helping co-ops advance as far as they have.
Actively or by neglect, you will help determine what the cooperative and its world will look like after the next thirty years. One reader wrote, "I am very much in opposition to this unprovoked war and how it distorts our foreign policy, threatens our civil liberties, and how a budget distorted for war denies us the resources for health, education, housing, etc. We would encourage the co-op, adhering to the principles of the organization, to consider a resolution in opposition to the war....Incidentally, I have been a co-op member for more than fifty years."
Dave Gutknecht is editor of Cooperative Grocer: [email protected].
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