Synthesis Committee Update

By Jenna Whitaker, Board member

It’s a wrap! After 3 months of digesting and integrating Member-Owner feedback, the Synthesis Committee has completed its task of producing a recommendation for the Co-op’s long-term planning process. This recommendation or “synthesis” reflects the wealth of input received from Member-Owners via feedback sessions, survey responses, and emails.

The Synthesis Committee was an offshoot of the Long-term Planning Committee (LTPC) and comprised of 10 people:

  • 4 Member-Owners, each elected from a different feedback session that took place in September and October 2017: Chris Eykamp, David Todd, Judith Maron-Friend and Phil Quitslund
  • 3 LTPC Members: Ashley Todd, Finnley LoPresti and Sofie Sherman-Burton
  • 2 Board Members: Dave Wadley and myself
  • 1 Collective Manager not on the LTPC: Kahadish Wa’adabisha

Each of our meetings were facilitated by David Osborn, who also created the format we used to explore and organize the information. The work involved a lot of reading and grouping comments and ideas into common themes. It was colorful and challenging at times, but we managed to reach consensus on every aspect of our task. Our finished project is a comprehensive summary of these themes with supporting feedback, and a recommendation for the process moving forward.

While we each brought a variety of our own experience to the Synthesis Committee, it is important to recognize that many of us benefit from white privilege; the summary we made is no doubt impacted by that fact, though it is difficult to say exactly how. As a Board member, I hope that we can work to bring more diverse perspectives into our participatory processes in the future.

The Synthesis Committee recommended that the Co-op rule out the option of relocation and focus on researching options to stay viable and relevant at its current location. We received ample feedback from Member-Owners sharing their personal connection to the building and its ties to the community, along with other concerns about the financial ramifications of moving the store. Some folks shared ideas for helping us sustain in place. The LTPC considered the Synthesis Committee’s input in forming their recommendations for the Collective Management. You can read more about those recommendations and the LTPC’s future research in their update, which follows.

I would like to thank every person that wrote an email, attended a feedback session, or participated in this process in any way thus far. Your thoughts and words are meaningful, impassioned, and clearly reflective of your values and experiences. Hearing your different ideas, concerns and feelings was an incredible opportunity and an interesting way to get to know my position on the board. I look forward to seeing where this process takes us!