The Bowers Fund kicked off CCMA 2016 with an outdoor reception featuring lovely food and the Queen Mary Band, whose members all work at River Valley Co-op in nearby Northampton. There were reunions of all kinds, and you could hear the many happy greetings among cooperators who found each other after a year or more apart. Bowers Fund advisors momentarily silenced the crowd to remind them of the many scholarships given to help members attend the conference, adding to numerous grants to startup co-ops around the nation.
Under the theme, “Disrupting the Future,” over 400 cooperators met at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst on June 9–11 for the 60th annual Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) conference. Participants from across the country discussed critical strategic issues and explored “cooperative food and the next generation.” CCMA offers a diverse program for food co-ops and their close allies during three days of intense conversations, local tours, workshop presentations, keynote speakers, and awards—a kind of summit conference for the food co-op sector.
The future is unknowable. Or is it?
Courageous leadership relies in large measure on wise choices. In his entertaining novels, Robert Parker often references the military strategist Clausewitz for the proposition that you should “plan not for what you think your enemy will do, but rather for what your enemy can do.”
Wise leadership, in other words, requires that we prepare not only for the probable but also for the possible. In the language of strategic leadership, we must exercise foresight.
Picture this: A person stands on the platform of a train station, and as a train passes through the station she flashes a bright message, hoping everyone on the train will see it. On a second train, as it passes to the next station there’s also a person inside each of the train cars giving the people in that car the same message.
On which train will more people get the message?
In May I attended the 2016 HOW Design Live conference, an annual event that conceives of problem-solving as one of the primary jobs of designers. Julie Anixter, executive director of AIGA, the largest professional design organization in the world, reminded us that designers today are innovators, business strategists, visualizers, researchers, narrators, integrators, educators, and systems thinkers—among other leadership roles.
Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.” Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
How would your co-op employees like a beautiful, private outdoor break space? Classes on bicycle maintenance and repair? Free yoga? These are just a taste of what came from the Ashland Food Cooperative’s groundbreaking [email protected] project, conceived in 2013.
Among awards and milestones reported here and celebrated at the 60th annual Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) gathering, it is remarkable to note the 80th anniversary of Hanover Consumer Co-op and the 90th of Chatham Grocery Co-op. More within living memory, the 1970s marked the origin of most contemporary food co-ops, and this year we have an impressive class of 21 co-ops celebrating their 40th anniversary. Finally, in recent years many new food co-ops have successfully launched store operations, including 10 more during the past year.
Introduction: Outside the Mold
by Stuart Reid, Food Co-op Initiative
Among the hundreds of communities starting new food co-ops, there are always those who don’t fit the mold—some because they have unique visions, some because they have unique situations. Either of these can make it difficult to find the right solutions to becoming successful, sustainable food co-ops.
National Co+op Grocers (NCG) was pleased to present Co+efficient Sustainability Star awards to 14 co-ops in Chapel Hill, N.C. this spring.
Introduced in 2014, Co+efficient is a sustainability program designed to improve co-ops’ social, environmental, and local economic impacts. It offers a common framework for co-ops to measure their sustainability baseline, analyze strengths and opportunities, and improve sustainability results using program tools and resources.
As we celebrate our first five years since incorporation, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is looking forward to welcoming the co-op community to New England for the 60th annual CCMA (Consumer Cooperative Management Association) conference—hosted by the NFCA and our local members Franklin Community Co-op and River Valley Co-op and held at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.