Thursday, 15 January 2015 00:00
Council - Announcements
Thanks for your interest in serving on GreenStar's Council (board of directors). We look forward to hearing your voice, benefiting from your ideas, and working with you to make the Co-op an even better place.
Annual Elections (in April); Appointments to Fill Vacancies Between Elections
In the annual Council election, conducted throughout April, at least 5 of the seats on Council are filled (for 3-year terms). If vacancies have occurred since the previous election, those may be filled for the balance of those terms (e.g., for 1 or 2 years). To be elected, a candidate must receive at least 50 valid votes, and at least 200 members must participate in voting). Vacancies that occur during the year are filled by Council appointment, until the next election.
To be a qualified candidate in the election, or for appointment, you must be a GreenStar member-owner in good standing (e.g., membership fees are paid up to date). To appear on the ballot, you must submit a Declaration of Candidacy form by March 1st; you could still run as a write-in candidate if you submit the form by March 31st. To be considered for appointment to a vacant seat, between elections, you need to submit an Application specifically for that, AND attend at least one Council meeting beforehand. Both forms are also available at the Front Desk at the West End store.
Should You Seek a Seat on Council? Some Considerations
Serving on the Council can be rewarding and fun (more on that part, shortly), but it is also a serious commitment.
Before the election (or applying for appointment), we encourage you to attend at least one Council meeting and check us out. (All Council meetings are open to all member-owners, except for certain executive session matters.) Our meetings are typically on the second Tuesday of the month, from 6:30 to 9:30 pm, in GreenStar's Classroom Space (formerly the Enterprise Car rental building), across Buffalo Street from the West End store). Agendas are posted in both stores and on the GreenStar website. If you become a candidate, also plan to attend the annual Member meeting in April to introduce yourself – there will be a "meet the candidates" item on the agenda.
We're always looking for skilled, caring people who will add their voice and ideas to the governance of the Co-op, and help represent our diverse Membership. Please read these materials, and, if you think you have the time, energy, inclination and passion to make GreenStar even better, fill out the Declaration of Candidacy form (in January or February) and run for Council! Or, if there is a vacancy, submit the Application for Appointment. (Council may not consider making appointments as the election draws near, to avoid giving someone who will have served only a short time the "advantage of incumbency."
Typically, in January or February, there are opportunities to speak with current Council members, to get some first-hand information and impressions about what's involved running for and being on Council. This could be in the form of scheduled informational sessions or tabling in the stores by Council members. Watch for notices about this in the stores, in GreenLeaf or on the website.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does Council actually do? State law requires GreenStar, as a cooperative corporation, to have a board of directors (which we call our Council) that is ultimately responsible for all aspects of the Co-op and to the member-owners. In practice, Council makes the "big-picture" policy decisions, approves the annual budget, and provides oversight of the Co-op's finances and store operations. Day-to-day management of the stores and their operations is delegated to a professional General Manager (GM) chosen and regularly evaluated by Council; the GM then selects and supervises the rest of the staff. What Council focuses on includes evaluating our GM (Brandon Kane), our style of governance and the regular updating of our policies, on co-op expansion (now including planning for the opening of a new satellite store in Collegetown), and on invigorated member-owner involvement.
What's all this about "engagement" with member-owners? One of Council's primary roles is listening to member-owners and trying to represent their interests. This can happen formally or informally, at Spring and Fall Membership meetings, special "town hall" sessions and focus groups, and through tabling at the stores by Council members and member-owner surveys. Our Membership Committee has been working hard to reinvigorate these traditional forms of outreach, as well as come up with new ones. Maybe you have ideas about this and could help us to build a more engaged Membership.
OK, but what would I actually do, day-to-day or month-to-month? You would be expected to come, prepared, to Council meetings (normally, once a month; special meetings are called if necessary) and to serve on at least one committee (again, normally with monthly meetings). When all the prep and meeting time is added up, it's at least 10-12 hours a month. Most people do more than this, especially if they serve as an officer, chair a committee or lead a project. Many people do outside research or attend conferences and report back to Council.
What's a meeting like? The Council meeting is our main forum for doing business. There we hear reports from and ask questions of management staff, discuss and amend proposals for action, and vote on new policies. This can involve quite a bit of discussion and debate (and usually goes on for about 3 hours), but, when everyone comes prepared, can be quite effective. We use a version of Robert's rules – parliamentary procedure – to run the meetings. It might sound formal at first, but is designed to provide everyone a fair hearing. The best way to learn what a meeting is like is to attend one – they are on the second Tuesday of each month, starting at 6:30 pm, usually in GreenStar's new Classroom Space (formerly the Enterprise Car Rental building, across Buffalo Street from the West End store). Council meetings are open to all member-owners. Hope to see you there!
What's this I've heard about a new governance system? At the end of 2010, Council voted to change its governance approach, by using the Policy Governance model "in a form chosen by Council." Policy Governance is a style that is popular in the co-op world. It's designed to help keep the board focused on the job of high-level planning and goal setting and to give the staff more leeway in running the stores and in implementing Co-op policy, with accountability to be ensured through extensive General Manager reporting. Since making this decision, Council has spent much time in developing new policies in the Policy Governance style, which are gradually replacing many of our older policies. At the end of 2013, Council adopted 7 broad "ends statements" (or goals) for the Co-op. The Council now receives frequent, formal reports for Council's review, detailing how these ends are being reflected in store operations, and how the "limitations" Council has established on GM actions are being respected.
And what do I get? You get to meet lots of interesting people, have a chance to go to trainings and conferences in exotic locals like Texas or Wisconsin or Idaho, and become more involved in your Co-op than you thought possible. Also, you get a superworker discount at the register – that's 17.5% off almost everything you buy. In 2011, the Membership authorized Council to provide its members with modest, monetary "stipends," and Council decided to implement such a system starting in 2012. "Regular" Council members currently receive $600/year, committee chairs $900/year, and the President (chosen annually by Council, and who has many additional responsibilities) $1800/year. Childcare is now available at Council meetings, for Council members' children (at no cost).
Sounds good so far. How do I run (or apply)? Fill out the Declaration of Candidacy form (to run in the election) or Application for Appointment (between elections, when there's a vacancy), both of which are available at the front desk or on the website. If you want to run in the election, don't wait until the last moment (there are essay questions!). Then start educating yourself...and launch your campaign.
Educating myself? Campaign? Yes! Educate yourself by coming to some meetings, attending an informational session for prospective candidates (or watch for Council members tabling in the stores), or calling/emailing a Council member (such as the Chair of our Governance Committee – currently Dan Hoffman; contact info for all Council members is in the GreenLeaf newsletter and on the website). There's a lot of useful information in the "Council" or "Board of Directors" section of the GreenStar website (www.greenstar.coop) - click on "Council Documents" to find all Co-op policies. (These are also assembled in the Policy Book, a hard copy of which is available for viewing at either store.) Campaigning has traditionally been pretty low key at GreenStar – feel free to table and tell your friends – the more people who care, get involved, and vote, the healthier our Co-op will be! Tabling can be arranged with staff at the Front Desk. If you do table in the store, we ask that you be respectful of others and not interrupt the normal functioning of the store.
Again, thanks for your interest. We can't wait to meet you and work with you. And, good luck!