I met a slice of the HWFC Co-op this week that I had never met before. I sat in on the second-Monday-of-the-month Membership Committee meeting. The first agenda item for the June meeting was the Co-op Voice “wanting to interview us.” After clarifying that the question was closer to whether someone from the Membership Committee would like to report in the Co-op Voice on what the Committee was doing, I said I was there to listen.
Committee Chair Judith Brink sought comment on the question from everyone around the table. Most members began their answer by expressing their view of the Co-op Voice as the Member-Owner newsletter. Comments went from vitriol to strong support; from “you have not been honest” to “the Voice says what’s what – keeping us informed as to what’s going on.” In response to the question at hand – “Should news from the Membership Committee appear in the Co-op Voice?” no one wanted to be the reporter. One member questioned the need for reports – given the work plan – and another thought it would be disrespectful to print something in the Voice.
But this reporter saw something more than wide-spread opinion. Committee members had come together because they genuinely wanted to share their ideas with each other, even when they disagreed. After the members at the table had concluded their Voice discussion, they went on to share their sorrow at the loss being experienced by one of their committee members – and friends – Cara Benson. Everyone listened as each spoke. Committee Chair Judith Brink did a marvelous job of ensuring each member was included in the conversation and that members spoke to the group – not to the last person who spoke.
Only one other item appeared on the agenda this Monday – it concerned whether a panel would be helpful in dealing with incident reports. That conversation too included input from everyone – with questions freely asked and answered to ensure ideas and concerns were understood. The item concluded with agreement to return to the questions many members had after considering more fully how restorative justice might work in some situations. Committee Chair Judith Brink promised to bring the members back together to do some role playing so everyone could acquire a more complete picture.
This was a meeting of people dedicated to cooperative principals. It wasn’t full of snap judgements and arguments; no one was rushed but the Chair ensured each agenda item came up at the time-slot provided.
I understand that the Membership Committee doesn’t get many visitors, but it should. Take notice when the Committee makes a presentation at the Membership Meeting June 18. You might like what you see and decide to get involved.
As for putting Membership Committee news in the Co-op Voice – here it is. No disrespect intended, or, I trust, provided.