Monday, November 26, 2018

TPSS Co-op board recommendations, November 2018

If you're a TPSS Co-op member, you have until midnight Tuesday, November 27 to vote for 3 board candidates. I reviewed the candidates' questionnaire responses -- I also sent questions about co-op expansion to the 3 out of 6 I could find contact information for, and will try with the others -- and have the recommendations below. Profiles and voting link are at https://tpss.coop/vote-in-the-2018-board-of-representatives-election/.

My recommendations are based on 1) relevant co-op / business experience, 2) community involvement, and 3) agenda, and diversity matters. I'm looking for board candidates who clearly understand the job and the community, who have a background that suggests they're up to the job, and who have a vision of inclusive growth. These strengths will come into play in the coming years, as the co-op copes with construction next door, seeks to reach all segments of the larger community, and reevaluates the desirability and feasibility of expanding.

Recommended:

Sawa Kamara, https://tpss.coop/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Sawa_Kamara.pdf:
  • President of the Takoma Branch Civic Association, in Prince George's County.
  • "I would like to keep the option open to people in and outside the neighborhood to have access to healthy produce."
  • "I occasionally volunteer at the Glut Food Co-op in Mt. Rainier. I stock shelves, bag groceries, ring customers and greet everyone that walk through the door."
Sat Jiwan Ikle-Khalsa, https://tpss.coop/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/SJ.pdf:
  • Extensive board, co-op, green, and community experience.
  • Responded to my expansion questions: would explore a variety of possibilities.
Julie Eddy, https://tpss.coop/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Eddy.pdf:
  • Board incumbent, secretary, with demonstrated strong commitment to the TPSS Co-op.
  • Extensive co-op experience.
  • In response to my expansion questions, Julia wrote, "I think [the co-op] probably needs to expand in order to keep up with rising expenses and changes in the grocery industry... [Expansion] can also come in the form of partnerships."
Alternative:

Bob Gibson, https://tpss.coop/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Gibson.pdf:
  • Community experience; experience with cooperatives.
  • Responded to my expansion questions -- a plus -- but unaware of the TPSS Co-op expansion initiative and the Expansion Task Force.

Expansion questions

I posed three co-op expansion questions to the board candidates whose contact information I could find. I'm not going to paste in responses, but I will say that I am as much interested in each candidate's approach to the questions, as I am in their answers. My questions:

The co-op set up an expansion task force in 2010 or so and allocated funds for expansion planning, but expansion plans got off track. My questions -- and brief answers would be great:

1) Do you believe the co-op should expand?

If No, why not?

If Yes --

2) What will you do to get expansion back on track?

3) What options would you consider?

I will elaborate:

The co-op believed, in the 2011-2 era, that it needed to expand to survive. Profits from the sale of beer & wine, however, have changed the equation. I don't believe the co-op is threatened, given current profitability and community support. The co-op will weather the construction involved in redeveloping the current parking lot and will emerge stronger, given the increase in Takoma Junction visits.

There are expansion possibilities. First, I'm not convinced that the co-op couldn't resurrect NDC's original plan, for the co-op to move 100% into the new building. Another possibility is to acquire another property -- the Healey Surgeons building -- and expand into it by moving certain operations into it. A third possibility would be to acquire the RS Automotive property -- the service station / former gas station across the street -- and build a new building there. A fourth possibility, and least attractive, is to expand the Turner building over the Sycamore Ave parking lot.

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