We Want to Listen

We Want to Listen

By Bill Pardee Board Member

Your board has taken steps this year to listen more fully and deeply to the members of Oneota Community Co-op. While the General Manager manages the operations of the Co-op, the Board governs through enunciation and monitoring of desired ends, limitations on the GM and on itself, and acceptable policies.  To do so successfully, nothing is more important than to search steadily to understand and clarify member values and concerns. We want to listen to you.

To do so, we have so far taken two steps. First, we began periodic (3X/year) public meetings between two or three Board members and any member who wants to question or comment or complain. We held the first of these July 15th. Seven members attended. They asked a lot of questions, and we answered them either immediately or by email after Board discussion. We’re going to experiment with offering these occasional meetings in association with a regular potluck.

Second, we have changed our procedure for handling member comments at meetings. Now, when a member expresses a concern, either the presiding officer or someone he designates will attempt to summarize the member’s concern, asking if he or she understood correctly. It helps keep me attentive to know that President Steve might suddenly call on me to summarize a lengthy comment! It ensures that we really do understand the essence of the member’s concern, and that may be reassuring to the member.

Later in the same meeting, the Board uses that summary to decide who will address that issue. It might be a request for longer hours in the Water Street Café, and, because that involves balancing labor hours and utility cost with revenues, we’d refer that to the GM to decide. It might be an issue involving posting minutes, and we might schedule that for discussion and action at the next meeting. It might be something we’d schedule for discussion later in the same meeting. One Board member will then email or call the OCC member who made the comment or complaint to tell him or her this intermediate outcome. Our intention is to respond promptly and respectfully to every member concern, within our ability, even when we decide we can’t say, “Yes.”

We’re your Board. The more we understand about your values, the more we can do to find solutions that serve all of us.