2011-03 LMC Board Minutes

La Montanita Food Cooperative
Board of Directors Meeting Minutes Final
March 15, 2011 – 5:30 pm

Board Present: Martha Whitman, Marshall Kovitz, Ariana Marchello, Kristy Decker, Stephanie Dobbie, Roger Eldridge, Susan McAllister, Betsy VanLeit

Board Not Present: Peter Nardini,

Also Present: Terry Bowling, John Mulle, Jennifer Cornish, Irene Schneider, and Co-op Member, Margaret Salamon

The meeting started at 5:35 p.m. at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque. The meeting was facilitated by Jennifer Cornish and notes were taken by Irene Schneider.

1. General Welcome and Introductions

2. Approve the Agenda – The Agenda was approved as presented.

3. Item Title: Member Comments
Issues Raised: There were no member comments during the past month.
Actions Required: None

4. Item Title: Consent Agenda – All
a) Board Minutes February 2011
b) Board Development Committee Minutes – February 23, 2011
c) Revise R5 Proposal – Martha

Issues Raised: Martha moved and Betsy seconded to approve the Consent Agenda
Susan raised questions to Items #5 and #9 of the Board Minutes and they were amended as follows:
#5 – (Management Monitoring Report) – The wording in the second sentence was changed to reflect that “entry level wages in Albuquerque and Gallup were increased to $8.50 and $8.00 respectively”. The word “by” was replaced by “to”.
#9 – (Meeting Evaluation) – The second meeting evaluation comment was changed as follows: “The Board Study process of taking data from various sources and creating SWOT’s will help us for the annual retreat.”

Actions Taken: The Consent Agenda was approved as amended.

5. Item Title: Management Monitoring Reports – March 2011
Issues Raised: Ariana moved and Roger seconded to approve the Management Monitoring Reports. Terry provided highlights from his summary report. He noted that the month of February ended with our largest sales week ever with sales of $607,524. Nob Hill, Rio Grande and Gallup all posted record sales this past week. Average sales at UNM are $8,200-$8,500, however sales have exceeded $9,200 during the past two weeks. Terry also reported that we are still working on a market study for a possible East Mountains location. The lease for Administration Offices and CDC will expire at the end of the year. Terry is looking into the possibility of relocating to a larger space. The Los Alamos Co-op has opened and is doing well.

In view of the potential move of the Administrative Offices and CDC, Roger inquired about any improvements to the current space or equipment that would have to be left behind. Terry indicated there were none.

Actions Taken: Martha requested the following comments be added to the Monitoring Check Sheet:
X6.2 (Submit timely and accurate monitoring data) –The timeliness of Terry’s reporting is appreciated by the Board.
X6.3 (Submit for the Board’s Agenda decisions delegated to the GM, but required to be approved by the Board) – Because the board timeline does not always coincide with deadlines of documents requiring action, oftentimes they are handled by email and made official at the board meeting.

Martha noted that while Terry provides us with the Cooperative Grocer, which gives insight on national trends, we generally don’t discuss them. She suggested articles be brought to the Board Development Committee for inclusion in our board development training. She also recommended www.morningnewsbeat.com for anyone interested in a daily consumption of grocery trends.

The Management Monitoring Report was approved unanimously
Actions Required: Irene will add the comments to the Monitoring Check Sheet

6. Item Title: Board Functioning – 3 Co-op Events (NH 4/17, SF 4/23, NV 4/30) / 1st Half of B Policies Evaluation
Issues Raised: The events coming up in April are on the Agenda for organizing by the Membership Engagement Committee. These events provide opportunity for the board to engage with members. The results of the 1st half of B Policies Evaluation will be reviewed at the next Board meeting.
Actions Taken: None
Actions Required: None

7. Item Title: Board Study – Education Ends – Susan
Issues Raised: During the study hour, board members and other board meeting attendees broke out into separate discussion groups to discuss pre-assigned readings on past study work and to create SWOTs for the co-op based on lessons learned. Comments following the breakout session were:

• Roger – Seeing a lot of either / or thinking. Would like to open up people’s perception so that it doesn’t have to be either / or.
• Martha – Intrigued by Empowerment Education. We can’t bear the burden of transitioning society, that’s not an area that we’re as strong at. We do well on cooperative values. In transitioning society, we need to figure out how to educate.
• Marshall – Opportunities outweigh the threats. We have the resources to take advantage of the opportunities and a reasonable understanding of the threats so that we’re able to deal with them.
• Stephanie – People are at different readiness to be engaged. We have to be thoughtful about the level of education.
• Susan – It’s not a matter of what’s either /or, but it is a matter of what’s genuine and how we put the message out of what La Montanita is.
• Betsy – Educations happens in ways we don’t anticipate. (Noted meeting with Sweet Grass Group – their way of doing business was changed by having access to and involvement with us.)

Actions Taken: The results of the breakout session will be compiled by Martha and Susan for attachment to the minutes.
Actions Required: None

8. Title: Administrative Assistant Duties/Assignments – All
Issues Raised: The Task list was updated to reflect the following:
• Completion of Tasks #3, #6 and #7.
• The intent of Task #4 was changed to reflect that individual board members will be uploading their bios to the website.
• A new task was added to for Irene to update the Board Policy Manual to reflect the revision to R5.

Actions Required: Irene will update the Task List to reflect the changes.

9. Item Title: Meeting Evaluation
Issues Raised: Comments: Martha extended appreciation for the work that was done by Kristy, Peter and Susan. It’s exceptional that our board members take on these roles. There was general consensus to continue to use the current study format for future studies.
Actions Required: None.

10. Item Title: Next Meeting Agenda Construction
Issues Raised: The 1st Half of B Policy Evaluation will be discussed. There will also be information from the Nominations and Elections Committee.

11. Adjourn regular session at 7:40 p.m.

ATTACHMENT – EDUCATION ENDS

Education Ends – Martha’s
A community informed of:
The cooperative model
La Montanita values
Broad producer/consumer impacts on local and global health

The Transtheoretical Model
It’s a model of intentional change, focuses on the decision making of the individual and construes change as a process involving 5 stages.
Precontemplation
Contemplation
Preparation
Action
Maintenance
The takeaway is for us to consider how to reach people at their different levels.
At what stage to people generally start coming through our doors? The earliest level is probably preparation, these are people who have a plan of action in mind. To increase our membership we’d need to explore how to reach out to non-members who are essentially primed to experience La Montanita

Strengths Weaknesses
Have value to offer Non-recognition in the general marketplace

Opportunities Threats
Competition mimics our benefits
Public perception of cooperatives

At what stage to people become receptive to the idea of the cooperative model? Probably in the action and maintenance stages.

Strengths Weaknesses
Have value to offer Shoppers not receptive to co-op messaging, it’s a distraction to the chore at hand

Opportunities Threats
Message through existing partnerships Public perception of cooperatives
Hold workshops on creating co-ops
Recruit organizations such as Accion

Other sources of information could be exploring how other co-ops are educating their members and the community at large.

The Lessons Learned from Berkeley

Various aspects led to their demise. A sampling:
1. too rapid expansion into areas without a firm member base
2. increasing reliance on non-members
3. attempt to emulate major chains beyond the ability to do so
4. political strife at board level
right wing (business oriented) and left wing (social oriented)
5. high turnover of management due to problems at board level
6. inability to control labor costs as a percent of sales
7. violating the 7th Principle, Cooperation among Cooperatives
8. major decisions made in secret and by narrow majority
9. staff not well educated regarding cooperatives, leading to lack of empathy will co-op problems
10. member economic interest was subordinated to the interest of other groups, namely labor
11. how boycotts were handled
12. board members did not have on-going leadership development programs

Regarding lessons learned as they pertain to our Education Ends:
Staff didn’t understand co-op model
Board didn’t receive on-going leadership training
Board became politicized and lost touch with Cooperative Principles

Strengths Weaknesses
Staff receives co-op training at orientation Lack of continuing cooperative education for staff after initial orientation?
Regular board study, more aware of the world around us Board work is significant time commitment
Regular board leadership development
Opportunities Threats
Evaluate our volunteer program to see how well the cooperative message is received. Competition overshadows our story
Reach out to non-members in ways they can hear our message. We can become unbalanced if we lose our grasp of the cooperative principles. Our primary purpose is to be a grocery store with advantages for our members
Align ourselves outside the box to broaden our relevancy in the community.

Weavers Way has a non-profit to service their community programs, thereby taking the stress off the store operations. We could study their model and see if others exist.

• What are the lessons we have learned from the Story of Stuff? – Stephanie’s
o We learned more about how to deliver a compelling message than about the actual story of stuff.
o We learned the importance of:
• simplifying our message
• ending on a positive note
• showing real problems AND concrete solutions
• encouraging individuals to learn more on their own
• appealing to a wide audience
• making our message short and memorable
• using humor, snappy dialog and simple graphics
• using social media to spread our message
• democratizing information by posting it on the web

• Based on my knowledge of the co-op, of national trends, and in general, what else would be valuable to know related to this reading and these lessons.
o What films about sustainable food are already available? (besides Food, Inc.) What other movie topics might be relevant?
o How can we use these films to help deliver our message?
o What do our members already know about cooperatives?
o What do non-members know about cooperatives?
o How can our graphic novel have a similar appeal?
o How do we make our graphic novel available via the web?
o What role will smart phones play in peoples’ shopping experiences and store allegiances in the future?
o Could we create a similar film showing the differences between cooperatives and corporations?
o What resources would it take to create such a film?
o If not a movie, then what other type of communication could we use to map out the story of a cooperative?

• Consider other sources that might be valuable resources for study.
o Books like this–Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements, by Robbin Phillips (I have not read this. I just did a search about marketing and thought this one looked compelling. There are many others with similar topics to choose from.)

Strengths
1. We have dedicated individuals in the marketing and membership departments.
2. There are real problems with global, industrial food systems AND cooperatives are a concrete solution.
3. We have a website, blog and facebook page already.

Weaknesses
– Our web presence is kind of weak.

Opportunities
1. Graphic novel is an opportunity to deliver our message in a simple, succinct, humorous, and memorable way. We must make this available on line, not just as a PDF, but in some interactive way.
2. There are numerous movies about sustainable food out there. How can we continue to capitalize on their message? “Fresh” is the newest one that I know of. Also, “Nourish”. There must be others, as well as documentaries addressing other related topics such as the “Economics of Happiness”.
3. We could easily make our website (and other communications) more compelling by using some of the strategies described above.

Threats
1. Whole Foods has iPhone apps that allow you to search recipes and build a shopping list. Next up will be apps that offer digital coupons, no clipping required. They will just scan your smart phone at the register.

The Story of Stuff- SWOT Analysis
Peter Nardini

The story of stuff seems to be a success because the thought-provoking and difficult information is presented in a way that is interesting and captivating. But also of importance is that this “story” takes advantage of current media and internet technologies and has gone “viral” thus reaching a very wide audience at a low cost. The Story of Stuff is also very powerful as it seems to reach across generations and appeals to people of all ages, including kids, who, in our case, are hopefully to become our next generation co-opers. It seems that we would also like to be equally successful in getting our own co-op messages across to our fellow co-op members and beyond.

Strengths:
1) The co-op has a long history of communicating with its membership as this is seen as essential within the co-operative model.

2) The La Montanita board is taking a proactive look at finding ways to duplicate the messaging to reach our members in ways similar to “The Story of Stuff”. This proactivity is evident in many discussions and study topics in both the general board meeting and member engagement meetings.

3) The co-op has the financial resources that would allow it to explore potential current media channels and find the ones that work best for co-op messaging.

Weaknesses:
1) Although the co-op has a tremendous outreach and education network, for example the newsletter, the co-op is slow to take advantage of the most current technologies to get its messages across and inform and educate its members.

2) The co-op marketing and outreach departments, and the co-ops administration as a whole do not appear to be proactively exploring uses for current media technologies. (Maybe they are waiting for the board to give them some direction with this)

Opportunities:
1) Opportunity to have La Montanita take advantage of the latest messaging technologies to reach the widest audience in a cost-effective ways, creating our own set of “story of stuff” pieces touching on what we feel are the most important messages for us to get across to our members and the community as a whole.

2) Create greater dialogue and interaction with current and potential co-op board members using internet and other current technologies. (Blogs, online newsletters, chat groups, etc)

Threats:
1) If we don’t get our messages across about the purpose of a La Montanita Co-op and its advantages as an economic model in ways that people understand and are interesting (ie video, cartoons, etc) we can lose some momentum and miss out on opportunities being created by people’s overall frustration with the status quo and a corporation-driven economy.

2) Trail and error period in choosing the right modes of messaging and communication using the latest technologies can be cost-prohibitive and consume a lot of co-op resources.

2) Other co-op competitors will take advantage of exposure opportunities and create their own relevant “story of stuff” media pieces and messaging.

The Emilian Model and the Education Sub-End – Ariana

Lessons Learned:

1. The Emilian model shows how co-operation and co-operative businesses can be integrated into capitalist economies on many diverse levels.

2. How co-operative business stucture, methods and principles can influence conventional institutions of business and government for the prosperity of the community.

3. That the democratic principles embedded in the co-operative model allow for decentralized networks of small and medium businesses that can achieve economies-of-scale yet retain the flexiblity to adapt and innovate.

4. That the co-operative model has developed from the roots of reciprocity and mutual aid that communities have relied on to manage their commons. (NM analog–acequia management)

What else would be valuble to know:

1. What would we want the Co-op’s influence on the NM economy to be? How are we integrated?

2. Look at the partnerships we form and how they express our values. What is the level of our integration?

3. What is the “civil economy?”

4. Government on all levels is the major engine of the NM economy. Is it a warping factor?

Other resources for study:

1. Bioneers “Dreaming New Mexico”

2. Have another world café

SWOT

Strengths

La Montanita is a successful co-op and has been in business for many years.

La Montanita has formed many and diverse kinds of partnerships with diverse organizations and businesses.

La Montanita is a part of national Co-op federations.
Opportunities

There has been progress in Co-op development in NM. New Co-ops have opened leading to greater visibility in more communities.

Social media is a new venue for education and visibility
Weaknesses

La Montanita and other co-ops are not organized together on a regional, more local level; impeding visibility to large institutions.

Threats

Lack of support for diversity and SMEs
in the NM economy.

Marshall’s Part Of March Board Study Hour
Lessons Learned From These Newsletter Articles
• Board members have demonstrated excellent understanding of the basic issues we want to talk about.
• We show great ability to produce accurate and engaging articles.
• Talking about principles and values in the abstract is important, but even more important is showing how following the principles, using a business model, improve peoples’ lives.
• It might be helpful to include in our explanation of co-ops that, co-ops exist only to create benefits on behalf of the people who patronize it.
• We don’t know what effect the articles have. Terry reports that there is anecdotal information that our newsletter helps members understand what we do and why, but we have no info on the impact of the board’s articles. We don’t know how much support we get from those who already understand vs those who we have been successful at educating. Are we just preaching to the choir or are we also converting people? Sales growth and CDC growth may be an indicator of the fact we’re reaching new people.
• One-time events such as the World Café can generate a lot of support and creative participation, but need to be part of a more comprehensive plan regarding how it fits into the broader educational plan. We also need more follow through and monitoring of these events in order to understand what we are achieving.

What else would be valuable to know related to this reading and these lessons.
• More details of how co-ops, employing these principles, are making a difference in people’s lives elsewhere, and what this could mean for us in Alb. We need to find examples that grab people and demonstrate, “If I do this, my life and those of others will improve.”
• What are the latest innovative uses of the co-operative model?
• What can we do to better measure our educational efforts’ impacts?
• How can we effectively use electronic communication and social media in particular to better communicate these issues.
• The linkage tools we have now are newsletter articles, annual meeting, group activities such as World Café, and to a small extent, electronic media. How do we integrate these into a cohesive program?
Other sources that might be valuable resources for study
• Case studies that show how co-ops improve peoples’ lives, especially case studies that our audience can easily relate to.
o NCBA
o NCGA
o Co-operative Grocer
o Univ of Wisconsin, Center for Cooperatives
o Restaskis
Strengths
• Our ability to learn and communicate about co-op principles can be translated into other important areas of our study.
• We are very open to new ways of thinking about future, our role, and our study work. This is partly because we are doing all of the research ourselves, without ‘expert’ guidance regarding what we should be studying. An important exception is our reliance on staff for direction in some areas.
• We have been successful at attracting smart, motivated board members who can continue this process.
• We have a financially successful business that would allow the board to increase our educational activities if we could demonstrate they would be effective.
• In our staff, we already have enormous resources, both as sources of knowledge and as help with implementing our programs.
• People already trust us, in particular, and to some extent co-ops in general.
• There are good examples available about how co-ops improve peoples’ lives. (ER)

Weaknesses
• As volunteers we have very limited time to do our work of learning and communicating.
• We don’t have a ‘teacher’ who already knows what we need to learn. We need to figure much of that out for ourselves or find someone to help. We don’t know what we don’t know.
• Currently, we are inadequately prepared to communicate with the younger population, who are more receptive to electronic media.
• As in any democracy, there is always the chance that people with narrow agendas could be elected.

Opportunities
• There’s a large population of young people who would probably be receptive to our message if we could reach them more easily through electronic media.
• There is an increasing amount in the mainstream media which affirms our approach to food and environment.
• La Montanita already enjoys a solid reputation for living our values and doing good work, raising our credibility and making it easier for us to communicate our issues.
• There are probably many cities and towns in the state where we could successfully replicate our business model, increase our economy and scale, and further promote our values.

Threats
• Agribusiness and its supporters are extremely powerful and will try to undermine or co-opt our message.
• Whole Foods and similar stores have much bigger advertising budgets, which helps them to appear to be doing the same work as us.
• For many people, ingrained habits, beliefs and perceptions about capitalism and what constitutes quality of life could make them unreceptive to our message.

• What are the lessons we have learned from the Story of Stuff?
o We learned more about how to deliver a compelling message than about the actual story of stuff.
o We learned the importance of:
• simplifying our message
• ending on a positive note
• showing real problems AND concrete solutions
• encouraging individuals to learn more on their own
• appealing to a wide audience
• making our message short and memorable
• using humor, snappy dialog and simple graphics
• using social media to spread our message
• democratizing information by posting it on the web

• Based on my knowledge of the co-op, of national trends, and in general, what else would be valuable to know related to this reading and these lessons.
o What films about sustainable food are already available? (besides Food, Inc.) What other movie topics might be relevant?
o How can we use these films to help deliver our message?
o What do our members already know about cooperatives?
o What do non-members know about cooperatives?
o How can our graphic novel have a similar appeal?
o How do we make our graphic novel available via the web?
o What role will smart phones play in peoples’ shopping experiences and store allegiances in the future?
o Could we create a similar film showing the differences between cooperatives and corporations?
o What resources would it take to create such a film?
o If not a movie, then what other type of communication could we use to map out the story of a cooperative?

• Consider other sources that might be valuable resources for study.
o Books like this–Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements, by Robbin Phillips (I have not read this. I just did a search about marketing and thought this one looked compelling. There are many others with similar topics to choose from.)

Strengths
4. We have dedicated individuals in the marketing and membership departments.
5. There are real problems with global, industrial food systems AND cooperatives are a concrete solution.
6. We have a website, blog and facebook page already.

Weaknesses
– Our web presence is kind of weak.

Opportunities
4. Graphic novel is an opportunity to deliver our message in a simple, succinct, humorous, and memorable way. We must make this available on line, not just as a PDF, but in some interactive way.
5. There are numerous movies about sustainable food out there. How can we continue to capitalize on their message? “Fresh” is the newest one that I know of. Also, “Nourish”. There must be others, as well as documentaries addressing other related topics such as the “Economics of Happiness”.
6. We could easily make our website (and other communications) more compelling by using some of the strategies described above.

Threats
1. Whole Foods has iPhone apps that allow you to search recipes and build a shopping list. Next up will be apps that offer digital coupons, no clipping required. They will just scan your smart phone at the register.

Betsy’s
EDUCATION SUB- ENDS:
A community informed of:
a. The cooperative model
b. La Montanita’s values
c. Broad producer/consumer impacts on local and global health

Humanizing the Economy, Chapter 5 (Social Coops and Social Care)

Chapter Summary/lessons learned:
Government controlled social care have distributed benefits to many people, but is based on a charity model that is often paternalistic, inflexible, and disempowering.

When social care is commodified and privatized, it becomes a consumer good that is less and less available to any but those who are wealthy. The focus on free market profit undermines the ability of social care to really meet the needs of the entire population.

The chapter highlights the needed role of civil society to play a role in creating social care models that really work. A wide range of stakeholders need to play an active role in creating models that truly meet needs.

The emphasis here is on reciprocity: the social mechanism that makes associational life possible. Reciprocity animates a range of economic activities that rest on the sharing and reinforcement of attitudes and values that are interpersonal and constitute essential bonds between the individual and the community. Trust, good will and social capital are as important as goods and services that are exchanged. These are relational goods.

Essential factors:
• Democratically structured civil institutions should provide the care.
• Government funding should flow directly to social care recipients.
• Social care organizations must be able to raise capital from users and civil society using social investing models.
• Surpluses should be considered social assets and kept in part for capitalization and development.
• Government should still provide public funds, but play more of a regulatory role.
• Service design should take place at the regional and community level.

What else we need to know:
Are there good social and/or health care cooperative models in the US? (models in the book were all from Canada or Europe) If so, how do they work and what can we learn from them?

Other potential sources to study:
Not sure.

SWOT Analysis:

Strengths
The Coop understands food production, distribution and consumption as relational.

The Coop has built a good amount of social capital locally, regionally and nationally by behaving in a way that emphasizes values and reciprocity.

Weaknesses
There is still a tendency among the public to view food as a good divorced from its relational aspects. The transaction is understood as being a simple exchange of money for food with an emphasis on getting a good deal (concern about expense of food), or obtaining special products (natural foods niche)

The Coop has not perhaps used education as an empowerment tool to build civil society

Opportunities
The Coop could think about using our relationships to help create public empowerment education that helps owners to:
• Understand impacts on local and global health,
• Clarify important shared values,
• Use a coop model and form of governance to make changes to communities and society (empowerment education to build civil society).

Threats
The danger is to not stray too far from food and to avoid being seen as radical, exclusive and/or out of touch.

Kristy
EDUCATION
A community informed of:
The cooperative model
La Montanita’s values (self-help, self- responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, solidarity; ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others)
Broad producer/consumer impacts on local and global health (eating local foods and the impact of doing this,
helping members/vendors to grow their own food)

Strategic Thinking
Where are we now? What is happening out there? What is important to us?
What do we want to achieve? Where do we want to get to?

Emilia Romagna Model: use of co-op principles for the joint production and distribution of goods and services by private firms’ within their respective industrial sectors
Combining innovation, quality, small –scale entrepreneurialism & co-operation

Quality & Value
Diverse entrepreneurial structure and its system for supporting cooperative relations among small firms in order to create value-added products
the point of self- management is to stick around to insure that you receive the value you produce. Produce high quality, pay higher wages
adds to more complex value-added products, and as a result everyone wins
Quality of life: creating business that last across generations, reduces inequality

Working Together
cooperation dulls the competitive instinct, competition dissolves common bonds linking many producers, creating local production systems, that secure global markets CLUSTERS (merging co-ops together for purchasing power, national buying agency, private label program: quality & value)
other cooperative organizations: textile, artist, electric, insurance
reciprocity as a principle with values a good society made of good acts
Mondragon co-op in Spain: financial, insurance co., joint training, research and development centers
Co-op federation services: tax prep, accounting, payroll, legal services, health and safety consulting, development fund
Culture of Cooperation – smaller scale would be at the state level.

Education Opportunities
Bologna Summer program for cooperative studies: opportunity for advanced level studying since North America is not as developed in the co-op world as ER is. Studies include cooperative theory and practical application

Government/Community Involvement needed
intense local democracy needed
real local power: active community, volunteers, decentralize organizations
the regional government arranges for marketing, research and developmental services
government interaction/creation of laws, make financing easier
CAPITAL (needed funds- creating financial innovation, and the laws that help this: taxing, 3% net profits have to stay within co-op development, favorable loans),
unity across political parties for the common good

Challenges: global health/ globalization: hard to compete with cheap labor Asia, Chinese prices, internally: foreign workers, large size with democratic structure, change in values across generational differences (get rich quick now a days)
How do we allocate resources to build that “web” of interdependent co-ops regionally/ nationally

Lessons learned from the readings
Cooperatives are emerging for the changing times
NCGA is a big help in the food co-op movement linking food coops
creating services that enable people to work
small companies cooperating intelligently on a local level
small firms compete for contracts, but then hire the losers as subcontractors
promote solidarity and participation over indifference and clientism
high levels of trust between co-ops
factors that make a difference in development of co-op group: CHANGE,
What can we learn: promote small businesses, access to capital, cross-sectional collaboration
(BOD NOTES) Created infrastructure with training centers on a large scale. Seems like other areas in the world are taking the coop model seriously, why not the US? What does it take for the social consciousness to defend, protect and support the coop model? La Montanita and NCGA.
How do we allocate resources to build that “web”? (Interdependent coops)
Where would the “model” fit in – culture
The government supported radical trade methodology and wages; were responsive to the citizens needs; created infrastructure (centered on training) on a large scale; provided tax incentives to perpetuate the co-op’s; and in that support for local ownership created perhaps the densest concentration of small businesses in the industrial world.

LAM Strengths
• We support cooperation, webs of interdependent co-ops Working with NCGA (web of co-ops/cooperation), NMFCU
• Education community through co-opera/newsletter/social media: co-op model, values, impacts on local/global health (on do-it yourself gardens/farming/bee keeping)
• Board trainings, employee trainings/orientation, which in turn we can educate our members/community
• We help reinvest in our area: food shed, loan fund, schools, etc.
• We sell quality, local products
• LAM leads by example: we talk the talk and we walk the walk>>>> regarding our values and the cooperative model

LAM Weakness
• We don’t sharing principle, practices, and profits with co-ops outside the food industry
• lack of government interaction/laws supporting healthy options (rise of GE crops allowance)
• local /quality food is (expensive) and we live in a poor state
• LAM values are those of social responsibility/care for others/honesty/openness in a get rich quick nation

LAM Opportunity
• Work with others outside to create an interdependency of cooperative industries: social co-ops, artist co-ops, non-profits (bank loans, insurance, tax prep, accounting, payroll, legal services, health and safety consulting, development fund)
• Work with others to create cooperation on a local and global level
• Continue education and trainings about co-op model and values
• Continue to help vendors/members grow and learn to be healthy
• Develop relationships with other industries
• Show non-member the co-op model

LAM Threats
• Lack of government involvement
• America is crumbling as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, vanishing middle class
• Get rich quick values over LAM values (have to change society)
• Expensive membership fees to form what Emilia Romagna has

What else would be valuable to know related to Emilia Romagna?
How to develop relationships with other industries outside the food industry

Other sources that might be valuable?
What other socially responsible businesses are out there that we can share with- marketing, research & development

15 March 2011 Board Study: Education Ends – Roger

Assigned materials: Humanizing the Economy, Chapter 3 “Co-operation Italian Style” & Chapter 4 “The Emilian Model and the Socialization of Capital”

Lessons Learned from the Readings:

A co-op is more than a commercial enterprise…
it is a social & cultural institution that is
— a source of employment & pride,
— producing goods & services that are essential to its community, and
— conveying to its members a solidarity of purpose that is
— woven into their day-to-day lives in tangible, visible ways.

A viable economy can include both co-ops and capitalist firms, but…
if co-operation is to offer a realistic alternative to corporate capitalism, it must
— cultivate a favorable legislative environment for expansion via networking, consortia & tax policy,
— utilize co-ordinating umbrella organizations to strengthen linkages among individual co-ops, mobilize resources to achieve economies of scale, and provide strategic assistance to improve competence & quality,
— collaborate & compete with other firms in developing & providing goods & services in both lead & secondary roles. (Competition among firms does not imply that the success of one requires the failure of another… rather it serves as a mechanism to improve economic performance.)

Additional Info Relevant to La Montanita:

— Re-visit the strongest commonalities among our member/owners (the most natural way to establish relationships of mutual aid & collective action),
— Review the current legal & legislative environment with an eye toward limitations & opportunities for deployment of capital, formation of consortia & government support.

Other Sources for Study Resources:

— Other co-ops, especially in NM, the foodshed & NCGA Western Corridor,
— Umbrella organizations, especially NCGA & NCBA,
— Government agencies for possible resources & to monitor legislation,
— Non-Government organizations for opportunities in social services.

STRENGTHS:
— LaM is more than a commercial enterprise… we have shared history, personal relationships, employment, pride, quality goods & services.
— Co-operation with other co-ops, umbrella organizations & other organizations with common interests.
— Tangible, visible presence in day-to-day lives via food & employment.
— Extensive networking with producers, suppliers & even competitors (through CDC)

WEAKNESSES:
— Tenuous “essential” role in community (i.e., replaceable).
— Solidarity of purpose strong in core group only.

OPPORTUNITIES:
— More effective publicity & marketing of foodshed & CDC.
— Strategic partnerships with other co-ops & even competitors
— Identify gaps in food security & distribution systems (e.g., foodmobile, delivery to shut-ins, etc)

THREATS:
— Changes to tax-exempt status of non-distributed surplus (equity, used for self-capitalization).
— Loss of distinct identity (i.e., “lost in the crowd”)

Value-Added Chains Readings and Board comments – Susan

Lessons learned:

1. The success of value added chains relies on participating organizations that share similar values around the larger issues of the welfare of land, consumers, producers, and all other partners.
2. The transition from traditional food supply chains to value-added chains requires education at all points along the way.
3. The co-operative model lends itself seamlessly to creating and sustaining value-added chains.
4. Value chain development can grow in scale.
5. CDC is already out in front of value added chain support
6. Supply and demand have to be cultivated simultaneously
7. The co-op plays a vital role in furthering the awareness of locally produced food in New Mexico.

What else would be interesting/valuable to know/learn:

1. Are there models that create a closed system rather than a linear food supply chain (from Story of Stuff)
2. Are there different lessons that can be taught at different points along the chain? What are they? How would we go about educating at all levels?
3. Would a value chain analysis be useful as a way of quantifying the impact of our food system.

Strengths

CDC has deep knowledge of a broad spectrum of NM producers/sellers

LaMo is stable, trusted and well respected making us a sought after partner

LaMo has a broad base of support-member/owners, producers and other community partners Weaknesses

Value added chain production often results in higher cost of goods than are found in competitive retail outlets, and it is difficult to educate people that the cost is appropriate
Opportunities

Social media as a powerful education tool

Willingness for partners to expand the reach of value-added chain ie. Are there ways to partner to support added value chains that deal with NM artwork, or other products-joint marketing, website?

Threats

Faux attempts by less community minded, more competitive stores (Whole Foods) to use value added chain reasoning without providing the same level of value

Strengths

CDC has deep knowledge of a broad spectrum of NM producers/sellers

LaMo is stable, trusted and well respected making us a sought after partner

LaMo has a broad base of support-member/owners, producers and other community partners

Weaknesses

Value added chain production often results in higher cost of goods than are found in competitive retail outlets, and it is difficult to educate people that the cost is appropriate

Opportunities

Social media as a powerful education tool

Willingness for partners to expand the reach of value-added chain ie. Are there ways to partner to support added value chains that deal with NM artwork, or other products-joint marketing, website?

Threats

 

Faux attempts by less community minded, more competitive stores (Whole Foods) to use value added chain reasoning without providing the same level of value

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