Give Back to your Co-op — 
Run for Council!

Council - Special News

By Colin Meeks, 
Council Member

12-12 Collins MeeksWe all love our Co-op, but have you ever found yourself wishing it could be a little different? Are there areas where you think we could improve or be more effective, or other directions you think we should be moving in? Well, now is a good time to stand up and make your voice heard. GreenStar will conduct its annual Council election this spring, which provides an opportunity for you to get involved on a whole different level.

Every year, GreenStar member-owners elect at least five people (more if there are vacancies to fill) to serve on Council. The only requirement is to be a member-owner in good standing (being current on your equity payments and not having violated the Standards of Conduct). You also need a desire to make your Co-op and community a better place and the time and inclination to do so. Each month, the time commitment includes one Council meeting (on the second Tuesday, at 6:30 pm) for three hours, at least one active committee meeting for two hours, and the time to prepare for these meetings. In addition, there are periodic Membership Meetings, trainings, tabling, and special events. A full Council term is three years; those elected to fill vacancies may win terms of one or two years.

In exchange for your service, you are rewarded with a super-worker discount (17.5% off delicious, healthy food and other groceries!), a modest monetary stipend ($600/year) and, most important, the knowledge that you are helping GreenStar to remain the amazing community resource we all rely upon.

Being a Council Member means you help define the vision and general direction of the Co-op; you also help ensure that the enterprise remains financially sound. Council doesn't get involved in day-to-day operation of the stores, but instead looks at the larger picture. Council selects and supervises the General Manager (GM) and holds the GM accountable for managing a business that reflects the Co-op's policies, values, and goals. Council considers and votes on the Co-op's annual operating and capital budgets, and on a host of policies needed to guide a $19 million/year enterprise (we're the second largest food co-op in NY state).

Are you worried that you don't have the right experience to serve on a board of directors? You may want to think again. GreenStar has a large Council (15 seats), in part so it can more readily reflect the diversity of our community and member-owners. Whatever knowledge and experience you can bring to the table will be valued. New Council Members receive orientation and have the opportunity to attend training sessions with people from other co-ops around the region or the country. As the first principle in our Bylaws says: "We will seek out and invite people from all segments of the community..." As a democratic operation, every voice and opinion is important. The more diversity of thought and experience our Council has, the greater the reach and influence our Co-op will have.

If you're interested, or even just curious, there are many ways to learn more before the March 1 deadline for declaring your candidacy. Council meetings are open to all, so feel free to attend one to get a better idea of what it's like. There will be meetings on Tuesday, Jan. 14 and Tuesday, Feb. 11. Until The Space @ GreenStar is renovated, Council will meet in the former Enterprise car rental building next to the warehouse. Agendas for the meetings are posted in advance at the stores and online (www.greenstar.coop/council).

Also, there will be at least two informational sessions for prospective candidates, on Monday, Jan. 27 (snow date Jan. 29) and Wednesday, Feb. 12, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, at the West-End store. If you can't make either of these sessions, you can contact any Council Member with questions or for guidance. Look on page 2 of the January 2014 GreenLeaf.

Informational handouts and the official Declaration of Candidacy forms can be found at the Member Center at each store or on the GreenStar website. In order to appear on the ballot, a candidate must submit this form by March 1. Voting will take place during April and candidates will have the opportunity to introduce themselves at the Annual Membership Meeting that month.

Get involved, make your mark, and help make GreenStar the greatest place it can be. We look forward to working with you!

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