Claire Purvey Houston


One of the many things I’ve learned in the past two years is there is a steep learning curve to being a board member, and to function within that to create a united front. We’ve all had a couple years of unprecedented ups and downs, and there is more I can and would like to accomplish as a board member.

I’ve been the bookkeeper at Seward Co-op for over fourteen years, and I’ve been the employee director on the board for two years. This has given me a unique perspective. My role as a board member is to create and fulfill a long-term vision for the co-op, while my job as the bookkeeper is to help keep the business running (and hopefully flourishing) on a day to day basis. I’m reminded as a board member to think of the people working so hard to make the co-op awesome, and reminded as an employee to dream of the good things to come.

Working collaboratively does not mean getting everyone to agree on something. It means ensuring everyone is heard and comprehended, then working together to create an outcome that best suits both the business and the direction the board visualizes for our cooperative.

In order to best serve all of the stakeholders of the co-op, I believe the board needs to find the balance between the future and now. To hear what member-owners have to say and take what will strengthen the co-op. Make decisions based on what is realistic and what is necessary, and weigh those against our Ends and what makes Seward Co-op unique and valuable to our community.

Ultimately I want to know that Seward Co-op will go on another 50 years similarly to the past 50 – growing and evolving to what the community desires, while staying true to the core values of cooperative justice. Ideally, I see us strengthening Minneapolis’ economy and the natural foods economy by increasing co-op buying power and local sourcing.

I’ve spent my whole career with Seward Co-op supporting the day-to-day of our Ends, and seeing them in action. As a board member I am fortunate to help create the broader picture of where those Ends can take us as a business. I look forward to serving those Ends further.