Power of Staff and Community Participation at Central Co-op

Bee-City-Logo-2-500x423The board-GM team at Central Co-op has a very clear vision of how the Co-op presents as a community anchor and advocate: The Co-op is a point of convergence where participants make good things happen for each other and in their community. Putting the cooperative model at the front and center of the co-op, in its activities, processes and systems, is what aligns participants, through a shared vision and spirit. The Cooperator in Chief (general manager) and board have made the strategic decision to make Central a hub of action—a place where good ideas and plans for change and growth begin, are nurtured and turned into results.

By being a community leader, cooperatives offer their communities myriad ways to participate in the achievement of co-op goals. Those goals come into focus much more easily when they are operationalized. Participation becomes a very real thing—and an inspiring story that can be told, heard and shared.

A great example of this strategy in action is Central’s lead of the citywide effort to name Seattle a Bee City USA, an initiative in which a city makes a commitment to provide sustainable habitats for pollinators.

“It’s had real impact. It’s a big thing that we’ve had our hand in that. And it’s been a lot of fun,” said Dan Arnett, cooperator-in-chief. The advocacy required a lot of organizing and involved many stakeholders citywide and was a huge, recognizable achievement for the co-op community. It was hard work that paid off.

Arnett says now the staff is interested in having glass-paned hives and honey taps at each of the stores’ locations. He’s thrilled at how participation has taken root and is blooming at Central through Bee City USA activities.

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