Betsy Barnum

Freelance Editor

As a committed Seward Co-op member-owner for more than 25 years, I would like to make a contribution to shaping the co-op’s direction. We are living in a time of deep transition, when the values and purposes of co-operatives are more relevant than they have ever been. Co-ops can be a shining example of another kind of economy than the one that is threatening the future of the entire world.

I have served as a member and sometimes as chair of several small nonprofit and organization boards. I am familiar with how boards work and have seen how much can be accomplished with collaboration, a value that is intrinsic to the basic co-op values of democracy and equity. To me, collaboration happens in a respectful and open process in which all voices are heard and work is shared.

Collaboration also means involving all stakeholders, including member-owners, workers and vendors, all of whom have valuable perspectives on improvement and innovation. I would advocate for the board to engage these groups through advisory committees, listening sessions, and community-driven strategic planning to tap the deep wells of knowledge and creativity that exist among all Seward stakeholders.

The Ends Statement that guides the co-op’s efforts to sustain a healthy community is a great foundation, and I believe it would be even more effective by being fleshed out and expanded. As the world heads more deeply into multiple local and global crises, many of them directly involving food, Seward Co-op needs to be both more visionary and more active. Ends statements that describe more fully what relationships that embody equity, sustainability and social justice look like in a community living out the values of co-operation can be a powerful beacon for Seward’s future and for the community around us.

I am a process person with experience in both Roberts Rules and consensus processes, and this experience has given me insight into how process can be a great help or a hindrance to getting work done on a board. This is a gift I would bring to the Seward board.