GRASSROOTS ACTION IS POWERFUL! GRC Elections: Your individual vote and participation in our food co-op matter!


Posted by Laura Hagen, HWFC Member-Owner

GRASSROOTS ACTION IS POWERFUL! is a blog dedicated to American independently-owned, Member-Owned & operated, community food co-ops, their Member-Owners and families.


Last night, the Member-Owners of the Honest Weight Food Co-op held their quarterly  meeting. Elections were held to fill a vacant seat on the Governance Review Council (GRC). The results of that election, as certified by Rita Nolan, Chair of our Elections and Nominations Committee, are as follows:

“166 Member-Owners were in attendance at last night’s Membership Meeting.

131 votes were cast so 33 votes is a 25% plurality:

Gene Reilly          103 Votes
Rebekah Rice        26 Votes
Nancy Van Deusen  1 Vote
Russell Ziemba        1 Vote

Two (2) Provisional Ballots are awaiting verification but these votes will not affect the result.”

Gene Reilly is the newest member of our GRC. Congratulations to Gene and thank you for your willingness to serve a three-year term! I served with Gene on the HWFC Corporate Compliance Committee (CCC) and I can tell you he is very balanced in his decision-making process, focused, thoughtful, calm, and extremely easy and pleasant to work with.

Gene is the person from the CCC who recommended the term “time investment,” which is the term we now use to refer to the “work” we Member-Owners do at our co-op; his recommendation made it all the way into our bylaws!

Member-Owners, help Gene out by attending GRC meetings and supporting his work…

…errr, that is, time investment!


I was part of the team which made sure the “chain of custody” of the ballots was secure; that is, the ballot boxes were watched by a number of people from the time they were opened at the meeting, until the time they were placed on the table at HWFC, to be opened and ballots counted. I was also on the team which counted the ballots.

The ballot counting process which our Elections and Nominations Committee has developed is detailed, logical, clear, transparent and – most importantly – has multiple times where ballot counting is double-checked by “multiple eyes:” that is, there are multiple checks & balances.

A team of four people is initially involved in the physical count; each of the four checks the count of the others. Once the paperwork is signed off by the team of four, it is passed on to another team, which double-checks the work of the first team and tallies up the final vote count.

The Chair of the Committee was present at all times to answer questions about, for example, an unclear or spoiled ballot, so that the actual counting could proceed efficiently and without difficulty.

Member-Owners are invited and encouraged to witness vote counting at our co-op or to actually count ballots. Please do! It is important that we protect the sanctity of our elections’ process. We need to continually monitor the accuracy of our ballot security and our ballot counting and the certifying of elections so all are comfortable that the results are fair, accurate, transparent and that there is no possibility that the ballot boxes, the ballots, and counting have been tampered with in any way.

A process of hand-counted paper ballots, in public, with multiple people in attendance, with multiple redundancies, with a clear and verifiable, paper ballot re-count process, if and when necessary – according to a League of Women Voters member with whom I worked closely years ago – is still considered the safest way to conduct elections.

This is the process our Election and Nominations Committee has instituted for our co-op.

Thank you to each and every member of our Elections and Nominations Committee – Rita Nolan, Tom Spargo, and Karen Roth – for your hard work in developing this fair and transparent process which we can trust and which we can also verify.


What is crucial to our food co-op is your participation.

The recent first-ever HWFC Coffeehouse (thank you Membership Committee and all the musicians!), our second Art Exhibit opening (thank you Honest Arts Committee and all the artists!), and our Fall Festival, Homegrown Happening (thank you to all the staff involved, the vendors, and all who participated!), are all testament to fantastic teamwork happening at our co-op, both among and between Member-Owners and our wonderful staff.

Thank you to every person who was a part of all those team efforts!

However, governance also needs team effort. Perhaps it is not always fun, like being involved with music and art. It is, however, vital and necessary.

PLEASE start attending Board meetings. PLEASE start attending GRC meetings. PLEASE join a Committee.

More than ever, we need Member-Owners to fill vacancies upon the Board.

To that end, the Board will be holding a meeting this Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 5:00PM to fill vacancies upon the Board of Directors and upon the Executive Committee. Place: HWFC. Nominations are due by 5PM Friday, October 27, 2017, submitted to or submitted in paper format in a sealed envelope to the Service Desk at HWFC. Please do not leave it to somebody else to do; right now we need new Board members. 

Member-Owners, also, do not forget to thank Board members who have recently left our Board; they all put in hard work on our behalf. Thank yous are very, very important, don’t neglect to express your appreciation.

The name of my blog has “Grassroots” in it for a reason. You are one of the grassroots. Together, we families all keep our food co-op strong, resilient, transparent and democratic.

The fewer there are of us, the more chance for non-transparent actions. The more of us, the more roots to keep us grounded, co-operative, self-reliant, and strong.

We are all in charge of our mission which, remember – from our co-operative beginnings back in the ’70’s  – is, at its basics: high- quality, low cost food.

From my perspective – for my family – being involved in  protecting our sources of local, organic, high-quality, nutrient-dense food and building bridges to the local families which produce this food – is an extremely good investment of my time and energy.

Being involved in co-operative governance, to assure that end, is one of the ways to invest your time in our co-operative.

Wouldn’t you and your family agree it’s a sound investment?

© Laura Hagen


The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.

John Philpot Curran


9 thoughts on “GRASSROOTS ACTION IS POWERFUL! GRC Elections: Your individual vote and participation in our food co-op matter!

  1. Sue

    Hi, all. Now are we supposed to go with Carolynn’s first suggestion and have a meeting Sunday evening or will there be a Special Membership meeting? Lot of crap going on at the Co-op just now. Reminds me of the old days. Growing pains? Hugs to everyone and see you all soon.


    1. Laura

      Hi Sue,

      As far as I know, as of today, Tuesday, the Board will be holding a meeting at HWFC this Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 5:00PM to fill vacancies upon the Board and upon the Executive Committee.

      Nominations are due by 5PM Friday, October 27, 2017, submitted to or submitted in paper format in a sealed envelope to the Service Desk at HWFC.

      It was my strong impression – given what Sandy McKay (the immediate past Chair of the GRC) stated towards the end of the Membership Meeting on Sunday – that he seemed to think that it was a logical answer to confirm any new Board members by a vote at our regularly-scheduled January Membership Meeting; that is, there seems to be no need to go through the tremendous expense of a special Membership Meeting, when we are already having a meeting in January.

      Your comment does, however, highlight the fact that we Member-Owners, collectively, STILL – two years after our emergency Special Membership Meeting – have NO WAY to directly and electronically talk to each other – through civil discourse – about important issues like this!

      Well, except, that is…

      …we CAN here at GRASSROOTS ACTION IS POWERFUL! (smile)

      Thanks for your loyal readership, Sue!


  2. Janet Sorell

    You’re right, Laura, each of the members of the Board of Directors — past and present — have offered countless hours of their talent and effort on behalf of the Co-op and deserve our thanks. It’s up to the rest of us to be vigilant and unwavering in our demands for fairness and transparency.


    1. Laura

      Yes, I agree with us being vigilant and demanding fairness and transparency. You spoke eloquently to that at the meeting Janet, thank you.

      We currently have a committee whose chair seemed to think closed / secret meetings are appropriate at a democratically-run food co-operative. It is only now becoming clear that there are members of that same committee who not only NEVER agreed to their meetings being closed, they, in fact, had no idea that a policy of secrecy had been implemented by the chair.

      We need to be even more rigorous in making sure transparency – and checks & balances – are institutionalized in our entire committee structure, just as the Elections and Nominations Committee has done with our ballot security and counting process.


  3. Laura


    Member-Owners are reminded that an Inside Scoop from the Board of Directors was sent out last night. It provides an update, as well as a reminder that there is a Board meeting on Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 5PM to appoint new Board members and fill vacancies on the executive committee. Applications to join the Board must be received by 5PM Friday.

    There was an emergency GRC meeting last night. The GRC has not posted any minutes on its HWFC website page at all. There are, as well, no minutes from last night’s emergency meeting.

    Member-Owners are advised to contact the GRC immediately and request to know what happened last night and request open, transparent, timely communication directly to the Member-Owners, as is its responsibility…. …and, in fact, its mandate.


  4. Susan Longtin

    And we still have no forum to hear what the board is up to nor the problems. They’re stopping the Voice, not that it did much of that. We need a newsletter, column- something, so that the members can know what’s really happening around the Co-op. I heard about what happened with the Voice and the resignation letters and that is not only not very transparent, it’s plain nuts. I don’t care if it’s neonics, problems on the board or what, I want to hear about it and make my own decisions.
    The Co-op is now and always has been a member-driven organization. We are in charge, not the Board. Did you know that it used to be called “Co-coordinating council?” We also voted years ago that the people on the board are “just” member owners, just like the people who stock the shelves.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s