Dear Co-op Community,
The pandemic has been difficult for all, including our Co-op Board of Directors. Eleven of our 12 directors were elected during the pandemic, and all but one or two of our meetings have been on Zoom. Some of us spent more than a year working together before meeting in person.
Here in the Upper Valley, the change in seasons acts as a perfect metaphor for the transitions we’re all experiencing, including at the Co-op.
At home or on the farm, once warm weather finally arrives, we know it’s time to take care of our gardens. We assess the landscape, consider our goals for the year, and think about what we must do to accomplish them. We reflect on what went well last year and what could have been better. We clean and sharpen our tools and consider ways to improve our systems. This spring, the Co-op board went through a similar process of reflection and planning as new board terms began in May.
It is a new day at the Co-op. We have an amazing new General Manager, Amanda Charland, and we also have five new directors, including one employee. In May, we met in-person for a Welcome Retreat—not possible during the pandemic—and the Board reflected on the Co-op’s vision statement: a well-nourished community cultivated through cooperation. For the first time in at least two years, we felt energized and ready to connect with our broader community, because it’s through connection with the broader community that we can achieve the Board’s biggest job: to identify the values of the Co-op.
In June, we supported the Juneteenth event sponsored by the Town of Hartford and the Hartford Community on Racial Equity and Inclusion. Members from the Upper Valley came out in numbers braving the rain and frigid temperatures to commemorate the historic and special day—a day that enslaved African Americans learned of their emancipation in 1865. Our very own Lindsay Smith, Board Director and Chair of the DEI Committee as well as a Co-op employee, did a fantastic job leading efforts to ensure that the Co-op was there front and center to support the event. A big thank you to Lindsay for her work and effort!
On July 11th, we are supporting
Riverfolk Variety Show at Northern Stage. Riverfolk is being organized by a new group, Here in the Valley, which is, as described by Li Shen in Sidenote, “inspired by the pandemic, a bleak time when live music simply dried up.
Musicians were woefully unprepared for this and found they had no means to broadcast their work or tap into an audience, and had few, if any, recordings to share. Many just stopped playing.”
What do these events have to do with selling groceries or providing auto services? They both support our diverse community, which is precisely where we, the Hanover Co-op Board of Directors, find our values. We can think again to the metaphor of our gardens and fields. Nature is resilient and hopeful. It is empowering and collaborative. In the Upper Valley, our community has similar virtues. We look forward to turning a new leaf in the coming year. Our hope is to provide more regular communication to the Co-op community and participate in more in-person events so that we—and other Co-op board members—can hear more regularly from our community members about our shared values.
Finally, we look forward to the work our General Manager and our Co-op team are undertaking as we navigate optimistically through our current growing season and deepen our connection to, and support for, a well-nourished community here in the Upper Valley.