Challenging Conversations and Making Progress

Our business is remarkable in so many ways. One thing that has always stuck out to me is the connection so many people have to it. Many have fond memories of their first shopping trip, or the familiar faces they would see shopping every week, or coming to work at the place their parents once worked at. While it’s always fun to hear these stories about someone’s connection to our business, I’ve also been hearing inspiring stories from another, unexpected place lately.

This week, I’ve had a series of tough conversations about things we could be doing better. These conversations are challenging, but also encouraging. Ultimately, they come from the same, thoughtful place as tales of fond old memories. What ties it all together is caring for an organization and understanding we should always strive to do better.

Though these conversations can be challenging, and we have a lot of work ahead of us, they are also hopeful in their own way because they reflect appreciation and concern. If people didn’t care about our business, they wouldn’t be asking us to do better. Even when things are difficult, we are pushing ourselves to make progress and improve. My message to you today is not to shy away from those conversations, but to engage in them and try to understand what it is that we need to do. Then find ways to work together and help make it happen.

We have a special business. It has been a pillar in our community, and we all have our own unique relationship to it. To preserve that, it requires that we care for it and cultivate our concern, and that work isn’t always easy.

In challenging times, it’s easy to see candid conversations as negativity or complaining. But we can take this energy and build toward the brighter future that we know is possible. When people care about something, see how it can be better, and work to make it happen, that’s where we find progress.


Special Note:

Community Conversations: As you saw in my last message, I know that there are conversations we need to have as a community. We’re working to engage a facilitator and set times for these opportunities. I’ll continue to update you on our progress and look forward to hearing from you.

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Amanda Charland

Amanda Charland is the General Manager of the Co-op Food Stores. She was first hired as the Co-op's Sustainability Coordinator in 2012, and joined the Co-op Leadership Team as Member Services and Outreach Director in 2014. She earned a Master's Degree in Cooperative Management in 2017, and she was promoted to Director of Cooperative Engagement in 2018. She was hired by the Co-op Board of Directors as General Manager in 2022. Contact her at

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