2018 – Year of our Owners

From Richard Drace, Board President

Each month we welcome approximately seventy new households to BriarPatch ownership. How do we welcome them? Our brochures and websites list the benefits of membership, but might we do better? Friendlier perhaps? After all, we’re all family here, so maybe we could roll out a spiffier welcome wagon for our new family members?

Last year on Valentine’s Day, Board Directors invited shoppers to write the Co-op a Valentine and receive a package of local wildflower seeds. Be sure to visit the Co-op this year on Valentine’s Day to once again “share the love!”

Among our New Year resolutions, we’ve chosen to make 2018 “The Year of Our Owners.” We plan to host some get-acquainted soirées so new owners can meet their fellow new “pledges” and a few of our management team and directors. There are more good things about ownership than first meet the eye we’d love to boast about. Our Ends Policies we mention so often may sound rather formal, but there’s a lot of vision and integrity in them that motivates every aspect of BriarPatch activities. For instance, we’d love chat with new owners about the many ways BriarPatch promotes “A stronger local food system.” We’d also love to chat about how much we all value co-operation in these times when so much of what goes on in the world at large is competitive at best and adversarial at worst. There’s too much “them” versus “us” in many of our dealings with powerful institutions. I like to offer a co-op friendly variant on the famous Pogo line: “We have met our friends and they are us.”

That’s the chatting part. How about the listening part? As a new owner, what would want from your new friends here? How might you want to participate? Only shopping? That’s fine. Visit some farms? Learn more about healthy food and how to prepare luscious recipes? Feel some pride in ownership?

Soon we’ll be inviting shoppers to offer us a “valentine“ during our annual Love Survey. This time, we’ll be asking new owners to tell us why you joined and offer your hopes and suggestions for BriarPatch for this year and into the future.
Among your suggestions we hope to hear how we can get the message out that everyone is welcome at our store. Co-ops have a reputation – some of it deserved – that the typical shopper is white and affluent and counter-cultural. We resolve that The Year of Our Owners will be more welcoming to those who have already chosen to join, and that we’ll also reach out more broadly into our community so that folks of more diverse backgrounds will want to join our family.

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