Thank you to Jonas Poulsen from the Co-ordinating Body for drafting this blog post. 🙂
Saturday, November 6th 2021 will be a day to remember. It was time for the current Co-ordinating Body (CB) to get out of our housecoats (or pyjamas!) and get away from Zoom. Finally, we were able to meet in the real world and hold a long-awaited strategy session. Something we all have longed for, and with many of us meeting for the first time ever face-to-face.
Putting the excitement of an in-person meeting aside, our Co-op is looking into some big changes in the coming year and it was therefore about time we got together to try map out our priorities for the coming 12 months. Attending the meeting was our Chair Maureen O’Donnell, Brigid Corcoran, Broná Ní Chobhthaigh, Marina Lambrakis, Elena San Juan Grande, Paolo Bostrenghi, our Co-op Secretary Sam Toland, and myself, Jonas Poulsen. The Group was later joined by Amy van den Broek, our Shop Co-ordinator.
Arriving at the Stables at the Fumbally, there was great energy and a feeling of excitement for the strategy session ahead of us. Our chair/facilitator Maureen had put a lot of work into planning a productive but also fun day for us. Considering the obvious effort she had put into preparing the meeting it was pretty impressive that she also (in true Co-op spirit) found time to bake and bring delicious treats for us to start out the day! Because it was the first time meeting in person for some of us the day started with a little (re)introduction to each other with Maureen again being great at facilitating a little activity to break the ice and get the creativity rolling.
When it came time to get dug in with the actual work we broke into groups to review and map out our purpose as a Co-ordinting Body. Two themes were picked out as the main areas for the CB to turn our focus on, Oversight/Accountability, and Advocacy/Support.
Questions were asked about what is our purpose? What are our ambitions? Where are we at now, and what is realistically achievable for the next year?
Keywords from this conversation, and areas we will continue to address as a CB were:
- Membership Journey
- Why Membership?
- Common Beliefs
- How to Bring in expertise?
- Feedback Loops
- More Work in
- Committees/More people
- More Review of Progress
- More Formality and Reporting
- Refine Accountability
- More Time for Deep Dive in Specific Areas
After a tea break followed by another group activity facilitated by Maureen, we started looking at strategies for 3 very specific topics. The first topic was pre-picked by Maureen and Sam as it required urgent attention. The two other topics were picked by a vote between CB members as requiring attention.
What we discussed
Topic 1. The Lime Tree Café
What to do with our vacant space when the lease is up on December 8th of this year?
Many might not know this, but the Lime tree has decided not to continue running their café when their lease is up next month. They have taken this decision on top of a challenging time during the pandemic.
Our challenge is now to find a solution to what to do with the space they leave behind not only on a short term basis but to also make a long term plan that benefits our Co-op and its members.
Topic 2. Affordability
Many members and customers have expressed concerns in regards to prices in the shop. This is a situation we are looking into ways to address. We are keen on making the shop more affordable for many reasons, but primarily because it is a core value of the Co-op to deliver affordable healthy food for the members and the community in general. The CB will, in cooperation with the shop staff, explore ways to ensure that the shop and the produce we sell is accessible for all.
Topic 3. The Online Shop
The online shop has since its launch not had the impact we had hoped for. Currently, it is costing us money to run it. We hope that the newly launched delivery service could change that. But besides that, we need to take a deep look at how we can successfully run an online shop or, if we don’t succeed, decide whether it is worth continuing.
It was clear to all however that it remained a big opportunity, if we can make it work.
The outcome from this strategy session is yet to be seen. But what we can take with us from Saturday is a very solid framework that we can work within to achieve a positive and lasting outcome for our Co-op. What the session also showed was that we as a group have really good chemistry, something that can get lost when you sit in front of a screen in different locations. The session was a welcoming chance to brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other to produce a strategy for the CB to use in the work we will engage with over the coming 12 months.
We finished the day with lovely food from the Fumbally Café while reflecting on the day and the time to come. While we do have some structural changes to look forward to, as a CB we are positive that if we pull together along with the rest of the Co-op community, we in Dublin Food Co-op can look forward to the year that is ahead of us.
Get in touch
Do you have ideas or feedback that you would like to share with the CB? Please do not hesitate to get in touch. An easy and positive way to do so is to get engaged with the newly established Members Affairs Committee. This committee is for the members, and a perfect way to get engaged with and to give a voice to the Co-op member community. The committee can be contacted by firstname.lastname@example.org. They would love to discuss any ideas you might have to share with the Co-op.
Yours In Solidarity,
The CB of Dublin Food Co-op.