A Look at the Year Ahead: GreenStar 2014

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By 12th Moon, Council President, 
Brandon Kane, General Manager

13 12 TheSpace 3 web smAs we enter 2014, GreenStar is seeing the results of many years of work. These include an expansion of our facilities, growth in member education and services, and a completion of our Co-op's transition to our new governance structure, policy governance.

This wouldn't be possible if it weren't for an ongoing productive relationship between the Co-op's Council and staff. Not that we don't sometimes disagree, but we do so in a constructive manner that has allowed us to make significant, expeditious progress.

There are so many exciting plans for the Co-op in 2014! Let's start with the concept of the "Co-op Campus," now being developed for our West-End presence. The idea is that, by mid-2014, GreenStar will have a series of buildings on Fulton Street (Rt. 13 South), stretching from Court to Seneca, that will each provide a vital service to the Co-op and our community.

We begin with the northernmost side of our property, a former warehouse that has been known for the last few years as "The Space." The front 3,400 square feet of the building is in the final stages of renovation into a spacious, beautiful, affordable, and accessible Community Room for use by the Co-op and the community. We anticipate that this space will be rated for a capacity of over 200 people! As our city doesn't have enough affordable public gathering spaces to house all the exciting activity going on in our collective professional and personal lives, GreenStar wants this new Community Room to be the place where you host your commitment receptions or your organization's next gathering. Members will be able to preview this new space when the Co-op hosts the Winter Farmers Market for the third year in a row, starting Saturday, Jan. 11 at 11 am. Look for details in the coming months on how this space will be made available for your own use.

Adjacent and accessible to the Community Room are the 2,700 square feet that will house our new Central Production Facility. This central kitchen will allow us to take the majority of our Bakery and Deli production out of the stores and relocate it under one roof, while at the same time more than doubling our current production space. The efficiency and capacity gained from this consolidation will have several positive results. Both stores will gain significant retail space, allowing renovations that will provide more freshly prepared offerings to our customers as well as a more streamlined flow through the stores. Expanded food production capacity will allow us to grow our catering program, and the Community Room's location adjacent to the kitchen facility means we can cater your event right on site. Additional production capacity also means we can potentially serve more than our present two stores. Keep your fingers crossed for a Collegetown store in the next couple of years!

Traveling south, we come to our new Classrooms @ GreenStar building, which formerly housed Enterprise Car Rental. Renovations are currently in the works to convert this building into our new education facility, featuring a demonstration kitchen as well as increased seating for classes, which will allow us to expand our educational programs and affiliations.

There's no doubt that on most days of the week, limited parking at the West-End store is an impediment to shopping at the Co-op. In 2014, a large paved lot adjacent to the Classrooms will become available for West-End customer parking. We'll add a cart corral so you don't have to make a return trip across Buffalo Street.

With the space freed up by relocating the West-End classroom and Oasis Bakery facilities, we can renovate our present stores to best meet your needs.

With an eye to meeting our member-owners' needs in other ways, we'll make significant changes to our sales and member education programs in the next year. As our 10% on the 10th Member Sales day grew in popularity and use, it also became an increasingly hectic day to shop at or staff the Co-op. To alleviate this pressure, we have developed the "U-Pick 10%" as an alternative member-owner discount program. Rather than having to wait for one particular day of the month, member-owners may now choose any one calendar day each month to receive a 10 percent discount at our registers. The Case Sales promotion, which coincided with the 10% on 10th, has been switched to an everyday case sales program. In our West-End Bulk section, there is now a selection of our most popular items from the Case Sales, at the same low prices, available every day.

In terms of product education, our staff has partnered with the How Good product rating system and the Non-GMO Project to inform you better than ever before of the products' details, some of which are not easily determined by current labeling requirements or lack thereof.

In addition to all the projects and initiatives above, we have a few wonderful surprises planned for our facilities in 2014 ... that shall not be revealed in this article. Keep your eyes open!

On the governance side, Council's workload has been larger than in past years as we complete our initial transition to the Policy Governance (PG) model of governance. Council has adopted all of the new policies that we set out to establish, and we are now working to create the procedures we'll need in place to conduct our review of monitoring reports generated by the General Manager. We'll still need to carefully review our old policies and create procedures for incorporating them into the new PG system, if still relevant, or repeal them, if no longer needed. Later this year, Council will return to a thorough review of our bylaws for any amendments that may be necessary.

Council is currently working on improving a recruitment program for member-owners interested in running for election to Council this spring, conducting a self-assessment of our performance over the last year, and establishing a protocol for selecting Council Members to attend conferences, workshops, and seminars to further our skills and network with folks from other co-ops. This year, Council will also write new procedures to assist us in reviewing our adherence to the policies that describe what's expected of us as Council Members, your representatives.

This workload could not be taken on without Council Members that have been task oriented, respectful of each other and each others' opinions, and willing to take the time and effort necessary to do what's needed to perform their jobs with diligence.

I (Brandon) would like to take this opportunity to let all of our member-owners know that I truly love serving as the General Manager of your Co-op. Your support has been inspiring, and my daily interactions with you, the cooperative's member-owners, is what keeps me going. I also want to reiterate that GreenStar, in all that it does, remains committed to being a diverse and inclusive institution that meets the needs of our entire community.

And from both of us, a happy and healthy year to you all!

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