By Brandon Kane, General Manager

When you consider the immense scope of GreenStar — with its three stores, approximately 12,600 member-owners, and more than 200 employees — our Council (Board of Directors) has a huge responsibility in its role to provide oversight of the whole. Council uses a methodology known as Policy Governance to ensure accountability and success in the governance and operation of the Co-op.

In a nutshell, Policy Governance is simply a template guiding Council to create policies for itself and the General Manager (GM). These policies lay out the expectations and parameters by which Council holds itself and the GM accountable to our membership and keeps us in compliance with the various state and federal laws governing a retail food cooperative.

One group of policies is known as the General Manager limitations. This set of rules ensures that our day-to-day operations do not violate regulations, best business practices, and the Co-op’s own bylaws. For example, within these GM limitations is an Asset Protection policy, which charges the GM with certifying that our co-op limits its exposure to liability by being appropriately insured. I report on each policy on a rotating basis throughout the calendar year, which supports Council to perform its legal obligation of the oversight of GreenStar.

Our Ends policies encapsulate the values and aspirational goals of GreenStar. While these policies are not based on legal and fiduciary responsibilities, they’re just as fundamental in that they speak to GreenStar’s core values — such as Community, Cooperation, Education, Fairness, Good Food, Local Democratic Control, and Sustainability. Ends policies are reported to Council on an annual basis, helping to facilitate the specific role of their oversight of our co-op’s strategic growth. The work towards these goals is compiled and the resulting data becomes the annual Ends Report. The report should culminate in a shared understanding (or story) of the impact of our collective work. As cooperators, we believe in sharing our story so that it might serve as inspiration for another cooperative venture. This is one way we grow a more cooperative world.

Following are some highlights from the full Ends Report:

Sustainability: Our commitment to supporting our local and regional food system resulted in combined sales of over $8 million of local and regional goods.

Cooperation: Sales attributable to cooperatively owned businesses exceeded $1.1 million in 2019.

Sustainability: GreenStar went 100% solar electric in 2019. Because local solar farms supplied our operations with electricity, we eliminated approximately 591 metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions.

Cooperation: We raised more than $2 million in 2019 through our Owner Investment Program, making it possible to fully fund our relocation to 770 Cascadilla St. in the spring of 2020.

Fairness: GreenStar pays the Tompkins County living wage of $14.28/hr. Our wage ratio of highest to lowest earners is unparalleled at 4.2 to 1.

Sustainability: Not only will our new location be 100% solar-powered, but also sustainable electricity will run our gas-free heating system.

The 2019 Ends Report will be available on our website and distributed via email to members in April. I invite you to take a few minutes then to review the inspiring story of our collective impact. I am deeply and genuinely inspired by what can be accomplished when we pool our resources together. My goal as GM is to get you as energized by our awesomeness as I am! I have no doubt that co-ops offer a better way of doing business in this world and, in the process, enrich our communities. Thank you for being part of ours.