Last January, the Cooperative Grocers’ Information Network (CGIN) board and executive director met for several days to figure out how CGIN could better meet our mission of strengthening all retail food co-ops by creating community and facilitating the sharing and development of resources.
The result was a plan for a major reset of the Cooperative Grocers’ Information Network, with the focusing on deeper conversations among our community of cooperators and increased participation of (and support for) the many smaller established and startup co-ops that would like to connect with our awesome community of cooperators.
Since then, we have:
- Transferred Cooperative Grocer magazine from NCGA to CGIN and rebranded as Cooperative Grocer Network, or CGN (still pronounced see-gin).
- Modified our bylaws to reduce financial and administrative barriers for smaller and emerging co-ops to become members.
- Embarked on a website redesign that combines the CGIN and Cooperative Grocer websites in ways that facilitate better collaboration and curating of resources
The website redesign is underway, and includes:
- Converting email lists to a social media or LinkedIn-style platform, where users can create their own profiles (and personalities!) in a Cooperator Directory, and can share and connect with other cooperators directly or in web-based discussion groups.
- Creating systems and recruiting people to serve as group discussion leaders and reference librarians who can help manage discussion groups, curate content, and answer questions.
- Curating and organizing some content into Wikis that can summarize current thought about a subject and vet counterproductive material. This will be an ongoing community project that will take many years.
- Creating more prominent Job and Marketplace sections for co-ops, affiliates, and vendors to advertise openings, services, and products.
All in all, the goal is to provide a website that mirrors the food co-ops’ annual conference: a place where cooperators can get to know one another and learn lots of helpful stuff, all stored in a better-organized and retrievable library.
As this edition goes to press, CGN staff is on the verge of launching the new website. It will look a lot like the current Cooperative Grocer website—and will have the same address, www.cooperativegrocer.coop—but will include many of the new features.
The current CGIN.coop site will remain up and the current email lists active for several months as we transition members to the new system.
During the rest of 2013, we will listen and tweak, tweak and listen, to get a good idea of what the next iteration will be.
Constant throughout the history of CGN is the amazing willingness of cooperators to help other cooperators learn how to run better cooperatives. With the recent stunning renaissance of new startups, this mashup of Cooperative Principles 5 (education), 6 (cooperation among co-ops), and 7 (concern for community) is needed more than ever.
The new CGN promises to be a strong community-building and resource-sharing tool that will allow food cooperators to help each other take larger steps toward fulfilling some of the hopes and dreams inspired by the International Year of Cooperatives. Enjoy!