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Your Board

Hi, I'm Your Board

Outpost's Board of Directors will use this blog to discuss issues the board is exploring as it envisions Outpost's future. Can't make it to a meeting? Check here frequently to read what the Board is up to. Outpost's Board of Directors. From left...
Your Board

Let Me Represent You: Share Your Opinion

Sounding Board
Outpost's Board of Directors will use this blog to discuss issues the board is exploring as it envisions Outpost's future. Can't make it to a meeting? Check here frequently to read what the Board is up to. By Your Board on January 20, 2014

As board members, we have a fiduciary responsibility to every owner of Outpost Natural Foods. In other words, the nine of us have been elected with trust and confidence to help manage and protect the co-op’s interest. We do this through sound decision making and representation. 

At first, this concept seems pretty easy. Those who voted for us have reasons behind their ballot checks and we feel a strong connection with them in return. Owners gave us the privilege to represent them for three years, and for that we are grateful.

But, reality has a way of making things a little more complicated.

For example, as I read through the 550 comments from the 2013 Owner Survey, I found it an interesting endeavor. For every comment that says we should do “this” another says they are grateful that we don’t. Some are happy that we are “here” and others liked it better when we were “there.” It can literally be a ping pong match between opinions.

Yes/no, do this/do that, should/should not, grow/stay the same, good job/could be better, more of that/less of this… the list is quite long.

In the past year I’ve attended quite a few Outpost related functions and more often than not owners I engage with do not have any suggestions or specific comments for me to consider.

So, I found myself asking: how does a board member represent owners who don’t express their opinions, or who may not be aware of hot topics that concern the cooperative? How about owners who don’t take the time to fill out the Owner survey?

The answer is simple: board members need to balance the opinions of those who voice their thoughts through suggestions with those that only communicate with their shopping dollars. We need to make sure we serve the co-op without letting a minority voice sound louder than those who are silent. All of this is wrapped into making sure our owners have a healthy, diverse, and sustainable community while maintaining the long-term strength of the cooperative.

Our democratic process gives us strength and integrity. Sure, things can get complicated, and it’s not always possible to incorporate every owner’s request into every decision made, but I would not have it any other way.

My encouragement for you in 2014: stay active in the co-op, voice your opinion, and let’s grow the good food movement together!

– Douglas Spencer, director


i like the way you've presented this communication: acknowledging your awareness of the need to balance a minority voice with how buyers shop, and asking for more/continued input from members. Posted by: Ralph Lewis | January 23 at 10:50 AM
I think there is actually a fault with your argument. You suggest the way to represent board owners who don't express an opinion is through their shopping dollars. But Like the vocal response, the shopping dollar communication is hardly a full picture. In fact, it is actually much less representative of owner's opinions than any vocal response. There is also a silent faction there that you have no way of assessing because if someone chooses NOT to shop for a reason, you really have no data at all. Owners have a responsibility to express their opinion. If they choose not to do so, then they can't complain about how things are. Like any representative democracy. Posted by: DWiegert | January 23 at 2:05 PM
Something has been on my mind since the announcement of the newest Outpost location in Mequon. What about southwestern Milwaukee's County? Greendale, Greenfield, Franklin? This area has been neglected for years now. At least Sendik's has recognized the potential of this area for having thoughtful shoppers who care about the quality and sources of their food. Why not Outpost? Posted by: Jean DiMotto | January 23 at 2:34 PM
I live downtown no outpost close by so I buy in bulk. I have an idea of how more outpost owners could be served if the model we were using was changed some to fit the needs of everyone. but is the outpost going the way of other stores as they grow bigger? But can I get paid/compensated for my time and effort? see I have already figured out how to get the old outpost quality without on nearby. Posted by: dldupont | January 23 at 4:32 PM
My concern is with OP stocking items grown in China rather than products produced in the US. China is not a good vendor look at the history of inferior products let in this country i.e., toxic wall boards, tainted pet foods, lead painted toys etc., that our government let in this country. OP is suppose to be about health and natural products China is not representative of this mission. Posted by: RCS | January 23 at 11:49 PM

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