Co-op Voice F.A.Q.: What’s up with the Voice vote at the January 28th Membership Meeting?

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1. What is the relationship between the Coop Scoop and the Co-op Voice?

The Coop Scoop and the Co-op Voice have an amicable relationship as separate publications. Some member-owners have written articles for both publications, but there is no editorial overlap.

2. How is the Coop Scoop different from the Co-op Voice?

The Scoop, which is nearly as old as the Co-op itself, has distinctly different purposes, platforms and funding than the Voice, which was founded in early 2016. There is some overlap in readership. Until recently, Co-op member-owners were able to earn Member-Owner investment hours for their work on either publication.

The Scoop, funded by the Co-op budget, comes out every couple of months or so. It has been produced by the Co-op’s marketing department as one of its marketing tools for the past four years. It’s published both online and in an attractive hard copy for the general Co-op shopping public.

The Voice is a member-owner-run monthly newsletter created with the sanction of the HWFC Board, published online and supported solely by advertisements. While it features articles of general interest to Co-op community members, it also presents letters to the editor, free classifieds, and items concerning internal Co-op happenings.

3. What is the mission of the Voice?

The mission of the Co-op Voice is to provide an independent space for Honest Weight Food Co-op’s diverse voices to be heard, to ensure and enhance communication among our community members, to contribute to a healthy co-operative environment, and to work together to keep building our Co-op community.

4. Does the Co-op Voice seek to express and promote the views of particular Co-op members over that of others?

The Voice is dedicated to the belief that ALL members of the Co-op community have a right to be heard and that open dialogue is essential to the health and wellbeing of the organization. The Voice does NOT seek to promote one person’s views over another’s and provides the opportunity for all to be heard.

5. What about information too sensitive to share with the general public that Owners and Staff should be aware of?

In early November 2017, the Voice set up password protection on the coopvoice.com website for articles and/or letters deemed by the editors to contain sensitive information. Owners and staff can access this area by sending an email to editors AT coopvoice.com and requesting the password.

6. Does the Voice adhere to an editorial policy?

Of course. The editorial policy, which has been in place from the start and has evolved as the newsletter grew, can be read on our website.

7. How can I get my own views published in the Co-op Voice?

Send a letter addressed “To the Editors” or “To the Co-op Community,” to editors AT coopvoice.com. You can also send us a note, send in a suggestion for a future article, or propose to write an article yourself.

8. Why has the Co-op Voice chosen to remain independent of the Co-op Board?

According to Co-op Bylaw 330.6, “Member-Owners have the right to communicate with each other on an ongoing basis about issues relevant to HWFC.” At the time of the founding of the Voice, it was the opinion of the Board that it was necessary to have an independent voice not controlled by the Board. While the Co-op Voice team values the guidance, trust, and cooperation it has received to date from both Board and Management of Honest Weight, we continue to believe that communication with members-owners provided by the Co-op Voice newsletter needs to remain independent of oversight by either entity to ensure the ongoing freedom of that communication.

10. Why has the Co-op Voice requested time on the agenda of the January 28th Membership Meeting?

On January 05, 2016, a member-run newsletter was first proposed to the HWFC Board. The proposed newsletter was further discussed at their January 19, 2016 meeting. In the minutes from January 05, Member-Owner Jeremiah Hair is quoted as saying he believes the mandate from the members [present at the Special Membership Meeting of November 30, 2015] was for openness, communication and support of cooperative principles.

Two weeks later, Board members spoke to the creation of a member-run newsletter. Some agreed that they “did not believe it would be beneficial for the board to be involved. If any future board doesn’t like member content, it could squelch the content.”

Board members suggested member-owners could petition to amend the Bylaws to ensure a membership-run newsletter. The Board, then, unanimously voted to approve the provisional creation of a member-owner-run newsletter.

We have requested time on the agenda of the January 28th, 2018, Honest Weight Membership Meeting so the Membership can vote whether to amend the HWFC Bylaws and Member-Owner Manual. A “yes” vote would ensure that a member-owner-run newsletter independent of the HWFC Board could continue to exist, and that member-owners would receive time investment credit for their part in sustaining the newsletter.

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Karla Guererri has been a Co-op Member-Owner for several years. She works in the field of education and lives in Troy.