2012-11 LMC Board Minutes

La Montanita Food Cooperative

Board of Directors Meeting Minutes Draft

November 20, 2012 – 5:30 pm

Board Present: Martha Whitman, Kristy Decker, Marshall Kovitz, Lisa Banwarth-Kuhn, Roger Eldridge, Susan McAllister, Ariana Marchello


Also Present: Sarah Wentzel-Fisher, Deborah Good, Jennifer Cornish, Steve Warshawer, Michelle Franklin, John Mullé, Terry Bowling, From Sustainability Studies – John Gibson and Jill Loniewski, Candidates for Board Research Assistant – Jessica Rowland, Sarah Skenazy, Hans Wressing.


Board Not Present: Betsy VanLeit, Jake Garrity


The meeting started at 5:35 p.m. at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque.  Jennifer Cornish facilitated the meeting and Sarah Wentzel-Fisher took notes.


  1. General Welcome and Introductions


  1. Approve the Agenda

Issues Raised: Ariana moved and Kristy seconded to approve the agenda.

Actions Taken:  The agenda was approved unanimously.

Actions Required:  None


  1. Item Title:  Member Comments

Issues Raised: Jill – I’d like to invite the board to the final class presentations for the UNM Sust. Course on co-ops.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required: None


  1. Item Title:  Consent Agenda
    Issues Raised: Kristy moved and Ariana seconded to approve the consent agenda.

    1. Board Minutes October 2012.
    2. Finance Committee Minutes – November 7
    3. Member Engagement Committee Minutes – October 22
    4. Executive Limitation Schedule Proposal – Martha
    5. UNM Liaison Committee Proposal – Marshall

Actions Taken: Passed unanimously

Actions Required: None


  1. Item Title: Patronage Rebate Proposal – Martha/Terry

Issues Raised: Martha moved and Roger seconded to approve the proposal.

Terry – This year I propose we pay back 1.3% to our members. We were fortunate to have a good year and to be able to give this much back to members.

Martha – Thanks Roger for a great letter for the newsletter.

Roger – I’d like to recognize the finance committee, particularly John Heckes, David Ritchey, and Peter Chestnut for their hard work and creativity in making the patronage refund work.

Actions Taken:  Passes unanimously.

Actions Required: None


  1. Item Title: Management Monitoring Reports – Financials X3.0, X3.6, X3.11

Issues Raised: Martha moved and Marshall seconded to approve the report. Terry – Volume discount in the month of October showed record high sales, in particular, Santa Fe does great during this month. Annual meeting went really well. Thanks to the deli and other coop staff for all their hard work making it happen. POS in the stores is going well, with a few hiccups. The roll out will continue next week.


VoteNet and the electronic election went well. We had a few hiccups early on, but all in all it went smoothly.

Regarding annual reporting, I wanted to address adjustments in the year-end report. Adjustments are changes to the net earnings.

It’s been a very good year!

Actions Taken: Passes unanimously.

Actions Required: None


  1. Item Title: GMO Update – Steve Warshawer

Issues Raised: Last month, several members came requesting that the co-op boycott a chile seller who is a member of an association advocating for development of a GM chile.


Steve – I’m here to try to depolarize the issues around GMO’s, and to explain the issues in a holistic way. I’m here to expand on what was presented last week, and hope I can help you feel better informed on the issues.


As you have questions now, and in the future, I hope I can continue to help in this capacity.


The starting point for the conversation has to be the chile industry, its recent history, challenges, and needs. For the past 20 years, the net acreage of chiles had been on steady decline. Much of the chile we grow goes into extracts put into hot food, like Louisiana hot sauces. Much of the production of chile has moved to places with less expensive labor, and fewer environmental controls. The larger scale NM Chile industry, south of Elephant Butte, has been struggling to maintain their market share. The chile we grow is not only for color and heat, but also for flavor, because growers are growing for commodity uses as well as for fresh consumption. Because of the cost of labor, that the focus by large chile growers has been investment in research which would allow for mechanical harvest of chile. They decided that they would pursue any and all avenues to make this possible – GE chile is one of these avenues.


Part of the conflict is a Northern / Southern New Mexico issue because the south is largely represented by industrial scale producers and the north is largely artisan / heritage producers growing for more cultural foods.


What are the issues surrounding legal issues with cross-pollination? Is there a reason that the south can’t grow the chile they want, and the north can have theirs.


I would hope that there’s a resolution that works for everyone. The reality is that this issue has been politicized, which makes it a hard issue to discuss and tends towards polarization.


What I believe needs to happen is more discussion. I have a motto that farmers don’t demonize other farmers.


Do you know what type of genetic modification is proposed with this project?


Genetic modification specifically means inserting genes of different species that you can’t combine through traditional breeding.


I think that quiet conversation about GMO’s is more effective that a public, political and polarized.


It’s hard to convince a grower who has real, problems day to day, invest time and energy in a hypothetical problem.


The other question is what should be the assessment process for approval for use of a GMO crop. So, one way to address this problem is to demand a more robust assessment tool.


The Monsanto bio-tech rep told me that he thinks it will never happen. He said he is more excited about gene marker technology. The crop size isn’t large enough to support development of a GMO chile.


Is Monsanto involved in the chile research? Not directly, NMSU is doing the research, but it gets complicated because Monsanto may fund it.


I think that the nuances of this conversation are really complicated, and we have a lot to learn.


Prerelease assessment genetic patent owner vs. user, are all issues that need to be on the table in the conversation.


Thanks for presenting some of the details of this complex issue.  We’re concerned with being aware of future trends, and it seems that the conversation about GMO is going to be a big one moving forward.


Actions Taken: None

Actions Required: None


  1. Item Title: Board Functioning – All

Issues Raised: N&E Update,

Kristy – About 288 members voted in the election, which is about 1/3 the number we had last year. We had to start somewhere, and so I think we did a good job. From an operational point of view – we need to step up our electronic communication. We went from no electronic communication to an election online.

I think we should do more research about other businesses that offer election services to find out if VoteNet is our best option, or if there might be a better solution for our specific needs.


Marshall – Thanks for your work on this.


Ariana – I think that research shows that you always have a drop in participation. For the price that we got from VoteNet, we got what we paid for.


Terry – Most coops that use this service have a single store, since we have many locations, its tricky. From an operations perspective I thought it went well.


January 12 – CDS is offering an advanced leadership training alongside their usual 101. All board members, Terry, and senior management are encouraged to attend. We also will send the new board admin and research assistant to the 101, if they are interested and available.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required:  None


  1. Item Title: Board Study – Common Ground and Culture of Shared Identity – Roger/Lisa

Issues Raised:  See Attached

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required: None


  1. Item Title: Administrative Assistant Duties/Assignments/Task List/Timeline additions

Issues Raised:

X5 reporting change – Now all happens in December.

Martha – Add Deborah to email list

Ariana – Add Deborah to login information

Update Roster w/ Deborah

Load second half of R Evaluation

Think about reorganizing structure of documents on the website (archiving and organizing.)

Perhaps a document that explains how the agenda works.

Actions Taken: None
Actions Required:  See above

  1. Item Title: Meeting evaluation

Issues Raised:

Martha – It will be interesting to learn more about GMO issues, and how the board needs to approach this.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required:  None

  1. Item Title: Next Meeting Agenda Construction

Actions Taken: Martha – We’ll have a final N&E Committee report. Board Study is Susan – Can New Mexico feed New Mexicans.


There will be an executive session.

Actions Required:  None


  1. Item Title:  Adjourn regular session

Actions Taken:  The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

Actions Required:  None







La Montanita Food Co-op

Board of Directors Meeting – November 20, 2012

Common Ground and Culture of Shared Identity – Roger/Lisa


Roger introduced the topic of shared identity, using the Elks as an example, and says that the Co-op has a shared identity also.


There’s a field of research called organizational identification. There are two definitions: An alignment of individual and organizational values; perception of oneness with, and belongingness to, the organization.


In both of these definitions, there is a relationship between identification and commitment to the organization.


Some researchers have tried to measure organizational identification using the following basic tools.

1. Categorization of the self as a member of the group.

2. Integration of the orgs goals and values

3. Development of the emotional attachment


Roger has those present complete a quiz often used as tool to gauge the level of organizational identification among employees of a business or members of an organization.


Our challenge, in the coop context, how do we get individuals to identify to coop and claim it as their own? The Elks, for basis of comparison:

  • are a fraternal order with over a million members.
  • have a membership inquiry form that is pretty detailed and requires a lot of participation by current members in good standing.


Susan – When I went to the Elks website I read the testimonial section. One of the comments was that the numbers are decreasing and that they should work harder to get people to join.


Ariana – Reading this stuff, I was thinking about uniformity in large corporate businesses. Part of this, I think is the commitment of the company to the employee – employees are hired for life. The percentage of sales to members reflects their commitment to the coop.


Lisa introduces the second reading: an article from the Cooperative Grocer Newsletter. The article is about members hosting potlucks for their friends, to talk about coops and their benefits. There are several strategies that I think it discusses that I think we could revisit as strategies to get members involved.


The last article was by Alporvitz. He says the thing that brings people together is a crisis—people come together to problem solve. The way that market creek plaza community came together to stabilize their local economy was a great example of how a problem created a sense of organizational identity.


Open discussion re: increasing member identification with Co-op

  • If there was someway we could give members a task. Perhaps we could ask our members to reengage and renew their commitment to the coop.
  • Are there things we’re doing already that we could ramp up, or new things we could do again.
  • Ariana –  The common theme in all of this is that membership fills a need. I think that orientation is an interesting idea. Coops, unlike elks, have open and voluntary membership. (Send article on disorientation)
  • Roger – Is the act of joining the co-op so casual that people don’t feel like it signifies anything?
  • Lisa – I helped this woman at the post office who had just moved here and was lost. I brought her to the co-op, and she was so excited to find a coop, because she missed one that had closed. She had that sense of identity.
  • Susan – I think its important to allow for varying levels of identifying and participating in the coop.
  • Lisa – We’re talking about the coop, but we’re also talking about identifying with a larger community and a commitment to the financial stability of that community.
  • Marshall – I think it’s important to think about Susan’s point. When I did consulting, we could talk about participation as a pyramid, with a very few, but most committed at the very top, and the most casual making up the bulk of the bottom, but how do we get those casual/social members more engaged.
  • Jennifer – Whenever there’s the pledge drive on KUNM, they always say imagine your life without public radio, and I’m on the phone. I think there are motivators to bring folks to the next level.  How do we do this, and how do we measure it.
  • Roger – I think our membership department is incredibly busy, and adding more to that isn’t realistic, but perhaps we could beef up that department – add another person.
  • Martha – To move folks up in their level of commitment we need to connect with them in different ways, and I think we really need to communicate more electronically.
  • Lisa – Information needs to be in places where people expect to find it. We’re revisiting stuff we used to do in our stores, and I think its working. Sustainability Studies at UNM is creating a whole new generation of people who know about and believe in a cooperative business model and cooperative economy. La Montanita does things that work.


Roger – There was another system of measuring OI

  1. When someone praises my org, it feels like a compliment
  2. When I talk about my org, I talk about we
  3. My orgs success are my successes