This Issue: Expanding the Conversation
NCGA invited board leaders to join its designated representatives (GMs or other primary liaison) at its spring 2013 meeting in St. Paul to discuss the future of co-ops and our food co-op sector. This issue is designed to help those who attended that meeting "expand the conversation" – to take the ideas and topics discussed back to their local co-op's board and leadership team for consideration and broader discussion.
Painting a Compelling Picture for Growth - Gail Graham
"As leaders in our cooperatives, we need to read between the lines and understand the concerns behind (members' reluctance to grow). Often members are simply worried that we will lose touch with our values. We need to show members that it's not what we do that makes us unique in the natural foods world but how we do it."
Bringing It Back Home – Marcia Shaw
Marcia interviewed Robert Williams, a board member at First Alternative Co-op in Corvallis, Oregon, about his experience and insights gained at NCGA's Co-op Leadership Conference in St. Paul.
Competition: What Is the Board's Role? – Martha Whitman
"Competition exists, and all co-ops are affected by it – even if a more traditional competitor hasn't yet set up shop in your town. Rare is the co-op that operates in a market where no one else sells groceries or food. All grocery stores, as well as convenience stores and restaurants, regardless of product focus, compete with the co-op for a share of consumers' stomachs."
Innovate, Adapt, or Perish – Cindy Owings
"Because in the past decade, conventional grocery chains have steadily been offering customers organic produce and other foods while corporate food businesses have steadily gobbled up organic food producers to satiate public demand. This changing environment has nudged food cooperative to a crossroads. How co-ops respond – adapt and innovate – will define the "third wave" of our history."
Study Guide: Expanding the Conversation
Thane Joyal (CDS Consulting Co-op) with the BEST
Questions for a board to discuss in three areas covered by the meeting:
• The results from the food co-op growth strategies survey – completed by co-ops before the meeting
• The compelling need and opportunity for growth
• NCGA's Co-op Impact Study