Okay, not REALLY the actual Co-op... just the Board of Directors.
I came to Arkansas not knowing what a co-op even was. As I looked for a place to buy organic food and supplements, I discovered Ozark Natural Foods. I started shopping at ONF in 2004 and my patronage increased as did my love for the staff and people who shop at the coop. What I appreciated most about ONF was that every kind of person shopped. Today, even, I am good friends with people I met while they were working at the co-op.
Today our co-op is experiencing something that I don't think that the people who established it or the people who voted the board to represent them ever intended to happen. We currently have four members on our board of directors who have broken communication with the three other members and are not accepting responsibility for actions and being transparent. In my opinion, members of this group of four are filtering the voices they want to hear, with the loudest voice being that of their lawyer. Their lawyer. Not the owners.
From what I understand about the co-op bylaws and the intentions of why it was built, that the Board of Directors would be voted, elected, to represent the owners. The Board of Directors would answer to the ownership. SO what would happen if a Board of Directors listened to the voice of a lawyer over the majority of owners?
You'd discover that bylaws could be cherry picked based on how they fit a Board of Director's agenda.
You'd discover that saying things like, " you could be fired for wearing a green dress" aren't things that board members choose to refrain from, but instead say openly to staff members.
You'd discover that meetings to vote to remove board members could be called "illegal" and cancelled by the same people the meeting was designed to remove... even though the meeting was never deemed illegal in a court of law.
You'd discover that a Board of Directors would think it is "in the best interest of the co-op" to fire a national award-winning GM "without cause" with no contingency plan other than to elevate the store manager to the interim GM position.
You'd discover a board that increased their budget by 20,000 while capping operations spending to O.
You'd discover a board that rehired an employee who resigned under the management they JUST fired and deemed him accountable ONLY to a majority of the board.
You'd discover that listening to your lawyer over the owners who elected you racks up a bill of 12,000 dollars in a month.
You'd discover a board of directors with a lot of questionable actions.
You'd discover that you might have kicked a hornet nest by refusing to hear the voices of owners. You'd discover that people get pissed when lawyers get to decide how the board governs more than the people who elected them.
I have faith that our Co-op Board of Directors, very soon, will be restored to balanced leaders who respect the voices of those who elected them more than the voice of a lawyer who feeds the cause of their private agendas.
... and you thought Patchouli wearing hippies were just all "Peace and Love, man" as it turns out they are all, "IF you fuck with my co-op I will organize, raise hell, and take you out."