Protecting Our Collective Voices

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Coffee pot from a 1985 Coop Scoop.
Coffee pot from a 1985 Coop Scoop.

Dear Co-op Voice Readers!

We’re still here and publishing on the third Sunday of each month. Our focus is on sharing stories about the Co-op and the community, written by its members, to foster an informed membership and strengthen our cooperative community. YOU have a voice in what happens at the Co-op and in the Co-op Voice. This is the only Co-op newsletter managed by and dedicated to the Membership. You may not know, but for six months we’ve been publishing without earning time investment hours from Honest Weight Food Co-op. We’re hanging in there because only a member-directed newsletter can guarantee continued honest and open communication.

The Co-op Voice supports all efforts toward a more informed community, and we wish to congratulate the Board on the introduction of their new newsletter to “enhance and clarify Board-to-Membership communication and relations.” We understand the newsletter, the Honest Slate, will be a collaboration between the HWFC Board, the Communications Committee of the Board, and Staff. Combining both the Inside Scoop and the Co-op Connections e-mail notices, it will have the generous resources of the Co-op behind it, and promises to be an aesthetically pleasing and interesting read.

We know how hard it is to start and sustain a newsletter and we wish the Honest Slate team well. The Co-op Voice is celebrating our 25th issue next month! We’re proud of our team and our publication — check out our archives at coopvoice.com. Our articles range from microbes to Membership. Most importantly, we provide the means by which members can exercise the right to communicate with each other; a right that is guaranteed by the HWFC’s Bylaws. We publish Letters to the Editor and Letters to the Co-op Community, and we recently started highlighting Board meetings and actions to bring more members into the important debates that occur monthly.

It was our intention to give a brief “Voice Report to Membership” at tomorrow’s Membership Meeting, to detail the ways in which we invite you to exercise your voice and have a say in content and operations of the Co-op Voice. The Board denied our request for time on the Membership Meeting agenda, so we’re using this space to communicate our report to you.

Accountability to Membership is important to the Co-op Voice. Here are some of the ways that we ensure we remain responsible and accountable:

  • Our editorial guidelines, which have always been responsive to input from Membership, now mirror the robust guidelines of the Park Slope Co-op’s Linewaiters’ Gazette.
  • We publish all “Voice Mail” letters which meet our guidelines’ requirements for Fairness and Respect.
  • We solicit articles, and ideas for articles and features, from our readers.
  • We welcome member-owners to join our Co-op Voice team and contribute to sharing stories and information.
  • As a member-run organization, the workings and content of the Co-op Voice are topics for discussion and vote at Membership meetings and at Board meetings.

In this issue we introduce a “Comment Line” for readers to share directly with the Co-op Voice editors their likes, dislikes and suggestions related to this publication. Readers are also urged to give us their questions and concerns, which we will work at resolving.

Additionally, we’re planning to establish an Editors’ Consultation Board comprised of three Member-Owners to provide advice and seek consensus on issues about the publication. One member will represent the Co-op Voice and the other two will join us as unaffiliated Member-Owner representatives.

Please use our Comment Line and Letters features. What would YOU like to know about the “behind-the-scenes” activities at the Co-op? What do YOU see as the pressing issues facing our Co-op at this time? Whether you’re a new member or a long-time Co-op participant, you have a vested interest in maintaining our strong and informed membership. Join us!

We thank you for your dedicated readership,
Meg, Mollie, and Paula

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