Natural Times, April/May/June 2014
By June Wiaz
The Board is off to a running start this New Leaf Market Co-op 40th anniversary year! Our Outreach Committee has several meetings scheduled with civic groups around town to discuss New Leaf, its role in the community, and the co-operative business model. There are various initiatives planned to celebrate the store’s anniversary in May, and the Community Fund Committee has its schedule in place for announcing, reviewing and awarding grants.
The Board and management are working to revise our by-laws such that we can offer owners the option to donate their patronage rebates to a non-profit yet to be named. By making this change, we will significantly reduce the amount of rebate money that goes unclaimed by our owners and therefore must be turned over to the state as “abandoned funds.”
One of the more time-consuming tasks the Board has taken on is research into online voting for Board elections. In a recent conference call with our New Leaf Consultant Thane Joyal, Board members and Thane spent quite a bit of time discussing the prospect of online voting. The inquiry into the possibility of incorporating on-line voting into our election process—ably headed by Election Committee Chair Dave Watson—is an involved one, replete with pros and cons. Would it be worth a few thousand dollars to set this up? Do we have enough email addresses of our owners to make it worthwhile? Will developing this capability appreciably increase the percentage of our owners who vote in elections and thereby broaden owner engagement? Will our owners be receptive even if we guarantee that their email addresses are not shared elsewhere (which is a paramount consideration)? The investigation continues into less costly options. Even if we do eventually adopt online voting as part of the election process, paper ballots will still be offered to those who lack the desire or capability to vote online.
However this shakes out, the exploration of online voting, along with most of our other board activities is part of the process of “making democracy real,” to quote Thane. Part of the beauty of New Leaf is just how well the store embraces this collaborative environment. Thanks to our owners for making New Leaf Market Co-op the success it is.
Wishing you and yours a happy and co-operative spring!