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June 3

June 3

Read about how Frost Beer is made in Food For Thought!

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Frost Beer Works will be at the Co-op June 8th (3-5pm)

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Garin and Christina Frost of Frost Beer Works

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GM Report: A Burden Best Shared In Community PDF Print E-mail

by Sabine Rhyne, General Manager
May 2017

Recently I had the occasion to reflect on a phrase uttered by a close friend, “A burden best shared in community.” In that particular case, the burden was the loss of a parent, a scenario repeated too often recently, of loss of someone dear. Community serves us in so many ways, and in times of struggle and abject pain, the support of those around us is critical to our very survival.

I have spoken in these pages of the role of our cooperative in our community, whether in its economic
role, its emotional role, or its collaborative downtown business role. We are living in a time of awakening, and everywhere I look, all over the country, I see cooperatives right in the thick of things. We are blessed, because to many of us who have sought cooperatives in our midst, we already know the possibilities of this power, whether with small burdens or large ones, as well as joys and the multiplication of that effect in community.

I have mentioned that people have joined our Co-op in the last nine months or so at a 30% higher
rate. We always ask them about their reasons, and some are stepping up after years of shopping in the Co-op, saying simply, “It is time.” Others are new arrivals to our town and environs, and they all—to a person—report that the Co-op is one of the main reasons that they chose Brattleboro.

I feel the responsibility of this. I too believe that the Co-op is a gateway to so much, through the interwoven threads of food and community: breaking bread together (even if gluten-free) forges deep conversation, good times, and shared experience. I also know that the Co-op is a meeting place, intentional and not so much, where neighbors and long-lost comrades stand for a long time in the aisles or over a cup of tea in the café, conspiring how to change the world or at least schedule a meet-up. The
Co-op stands as a kind of visionary experiment where values are at the root of everything, and a
constant pushing and questioning about aspects of our food system enlivens the mind and sharpens
our attention.

This responsibility too, is best shared in community. I work among our Co-op staff, managers and employees alike, to think through the best ways to pursue our Ends, continuing to improve in achieving more of what draws us to work each day. We must get better at things—partly to persevere, but also because there is so very much to do.

People who are drawn to co-ops realize how many things co-ops have to teach us: empowerment,
economic democracy, community investment, food-system impact, sustainability, openness, education at so many levels, cooperation, and collaboration. Out of the hundreds of staff members who have passed through the Co-op over the years, some have simply come to a job and hopefully left with a slightly better perspective on their world. We are blessed that others have come here and stayed, appreciating our core values and obtaining new skills, growing with our Co-op.

And you, our customers, have done this too. Some have always understood “this cooperative thing,” and can’t imagine their lives without it. Others have come here on a whim, or because someone introduced the Co-op to them, or searching for some esoteric item that we surely must carry, and have found a vibrant community and a way to participate in the economic well-being of our region. It’s compelling.

And in this time, there is no place better than a co-op to work together on strengthening our community fabric. Many of our neighbors are struggling in our community. It is our job to learn how to be the best we can be, to assist our partners and neighbors as best we can to begin to address some of these struggles in a long-term way. And it’s our job to celebrate our achievements at those moments when we look at each other and feel the love.

A burden best shared in community. And a joy best expressed as well.

Sabine