New @ CGIN

Cooperative Grocer’s Information Network now 134 members strong

This year’s CCMA conference once again afforded CGIN (Cooperative Grocer’s Information Network) the chance to hold its annual meeting and report on its activities to members. This was CGIN’s eighth annual meeting, and we continued our tradition of taking pledges for items or scholarship contributions from members. And, reflecting their generous nature and tradition, CGIN members came through.

By the end of our meeting, CGIN members had pledged to send in $1,975 to contribute to our scholarship fund. These funds are used to help defray part of the costs to small co-ops of joining CGIN, consistent with CGIN’s commitment to making sure that all who want to join can. In addition, members pledged to send in hundreds of new items to our online library—including over 50 deli recipes, nine new photo gallery exhibits, and lots more basic resource items. Watch the site as we receive and post new items from these munificent members.

We broke tradition this year by not unveiling a new mousepad design. Instead, we rewarded members willing to pledge money or items with bright, rainbow-colored lanyards. They contain the message “Co-ops, Community, Connections” and proved to be popular with conference attendees for holding nametags, tickets, keys, and other items. Contact the CGIN office if you missed your chance to receive some lanyards and would like to pledge.

For those of you unable to join us in Albuquerque, other highlights of our annual meeting include:

  • election of Dan Gillotte (Wheatsville Food Co-op) and Jean Helms (Open Harvest Co-op) to the board of directors;
  • special thanks and recognition to departing directors Pam Mehnert (Outpost Natural Foods), Patrice Jennings (formerly at GreenStar Co-op Market), and Anne Hopkins (Good Foods Co-op) for their dedicated service on the CGIN board of directors; and
  • special recognition to the 23 co-ops that have contributed to our scholarship fund for small co-ops or who have contributed at least five new items to the CGIN site thus far this year.

Major improvements or changes to the CGIN site in the past year include another update to the Co-op Livable Wage model—now available on the site. In addition, we have now set up a separate section of the site available to co-op board members so that they can benefit from sharing their best ideas and materials without compromising the integrity of our security system, to ensure that we’re only sharing our great ideas with other co-ops that support CGIN and this forum.

Keeping up with all of the great new items that members send in for sharing via the site can be an overwhelming task. Here’s just a sample of some of the new items added to our website in the past couple of months:

  • materials from six different workshops from this year’s CCMA conference;
  • several versions of materials used to teach employees about co-ops and member equity;
  • charts comparing member equity and voting systems in different co-ops around the country;
  • an article about organic regulatory changes for co-op newsletters;
  • two different articles and perspectives about Codex Alimentarius;
  • policies from a number of co-ops about displaying artwork;
  • more merchant discount program materials;
  • natural foods training program materials for employees;
  • a collection of materials about implementing and working with policy governance;
  • information about how co-ops staff and use their customer service desks;
  • lots of newsletter articles on various topics;

In August, we also began hosting a third listserve—this one for co-op staff with human resources or personnel responsibilities. This is
a group that has been trying to communicate, share ideas, and support one another for several years and found they were ready for a listserve to promote those kinds of connections.

CGIN is happy to serve as the host for specialized listserves, which provide a simple way for individuals to be in touch and allow messages to be archived for easy future reference. We have been hosting another specialized listserve for membership and marketing staff for two years now. And we also continue to operate our “main” listserve, also known as the “CGIN listserve,” which is open and free to anyone (CGIN member or not) and remains a dynamic forum for discussion and sharing on all topics. Information on all listserves, including instructions on how to subscribe and links to their archives is available at

We continue to work on making our site easier for busy co-op staff and directors to use. We expect to be able to announce by early fall that we’ve finally completed setup of an interactive system so that members can directly add or update job postings or classified ad listings. Using this system, you’ll be able to post your own jobs, remove them if/when the job is filled, or change them if needed.

We are also beginning to work with our webmaster on member profiles that will allow you to get some basic background information about CGIN members and contributors to items on the site, so you will have some context to judge the applicability of items from that co-op to your own situation. Watch for that improvement this fall sometime and for an announcement asking subscribers to provide the data to complete their co-ops’ profiles.

CGIN’s membership is now made up of 134 retail co-ops and nine other groups (associate members). We always appreciate your feedback so we can make the CGIN site better meet the needs of your co-op. Please be sure to send in your job postings, classifieds, samples materials, deli recipes, photo gallery exhibits, or other items for sharing. Your contributions are vital to helping other co-ops, and CGIN, thrive.

Karen Zimbelman is western corridor development director for the National Cooperative Grocers Association ([email protected] or 707/445-4849).

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