Your co-op, May 2002

This article was originally published in May 2002

PCC Election! May 1 — 19, 2002

Click here for information on board and nominating committee candidates and a printable PDF ballot you can mail in.

Vote — like you own the place

The elections in context
by Trudy Bialic

As we go into the elections for three new seats on the PCC Board of Trustees, I’m thinking about how we don’t have a process for debate among candidates. Candidates and members are encouraged to attend the annual meeting to get acquainted, but there’s no process to correct or balance misleading candidate statements for accuracy and fairness.

The nominating committee (elected last year by you, the membership) reviewed each application carefully, met the applicants, and by consensus selected the candidates it believes will offer the best mix of skills to choose from for the board. The two candidates by petition chose to bypass the nominating committee.

Keep in mind that debate over co-op values has been going on for more than 40 years. When PCC originally was a buying club and became a storefront in the early 1960s, members left because of the change. Read a PCC newsletter from 1977; people were upset about moving the old Ravenna storefront to the new 65th Street site (the one that closed last year) because the new store was so big and “not like a co-op anymore.”

Groups of members chose to leave PCC because it seemed too large, founding Capitol Hill Co-op and Phinney Ridge Co-op. There was concern expressed about the co-op adding a second store (Kirkland) too much growth, too fast. We heard complaints that electronic cash registers and automatic doors are “not co-operative.”

We opened tiny old Greenlake, opened Seward Park, opened View Ridge, opened West Seattle, opened South Everett, closed South Everett, opened Fremont, moved to the new Greenlake store, opened Issaquah, closed new Ravenna. Each time membership and sales kept growing. New members speak up where there were none before, just as passionate as old-timers about what PCC should be doing, even if they disagree.

Grocery stores don’t make much money beyond expenses — one penny profit on every dollar of sales is typical. Much of that one percent margin goes to maintain our stores and make improvements. Greater volume means better purchasing power in most cases; our major supplier ties our cost directly to volume.

As always, members are invited to attend the open sessions of board meetings or to contact board members in writing on co-op policy issues. Board members do get correspondence addressed to them and they get copious information from management, including outside surveys.

Take time to read the candidate statements carefully. Your vote is crucial to sustaining the health of the co-op as a whole. We wouldn’t have the organic farmers who grow the very food we sell, not to mention the Farmland Fund, if PCC didn’t have sustainable stores. Please vote.

PCC Board activities

by Kathy Blackman, Board Administrator

The board met March 26 and listened to the results of the recently completed member survey and heard reports from board task forces and management on a variety of topics. Several executive limitations policies were amended slightly to clarify wording.

The next board meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 14 at the PCC offices. This is the last scheduled meeting of the current board. An opportunity for members and staff to address the board is scheduled, as always, at 7 p.m.

Please note that the agenda for each board meeting is not firm until approximately one week before the meeting, so it’s not available in time to publish open session times in the Sound Consumer. Please check the website at Board Meeting closer to the time of the meeting for more details on the agenda, or call the office at 206-547-1222 if you don’t have web access.

How to get in touch with us — email us at

Policy governance: ends policy

If you’ve been following board activities lately, you know it’s working on crafting an “Ends policy” statement for PCC. Some of you were surveyed on the phone during March, and others attended the annual meeting in April where the board’s work on “Ends” was discussed.

What does “Ends policy” mean? Is it the same as a mission statement? Almost, with some key differences. Here are the six important characteristics of an Ends policy, according to the policy governance model:

  1. Focus on results. A good Ends policy does not list the activities of an organization, but the change the organization hopes to accomplish.
  2. Short and sweet. Too many words means the board hasn’t really settled on its mission yet.
  3. Active involvement of the board. The board as a whole is responsible for Ends, not a consultant or segment of the board.
  4. Connection to those outside the organization. No organization functions in a vacuum. Ends policy must make sense in the broader community context.
  5. Alive and pervasive. Everyone in the organization should know its mission.
  6. Consistency up and down. In addition to being the motivator, the Ends policy is also the organization’s bottom line. All its activities should further its Ends.

The board hopes to complete its current Ends policy at the May 14 board meeting, using input from the most recent member survey and from the annual meeting. If you have any questions about the process, or want to know more about the policy governance model, please contact board members at

Also in this issue

Letters to the editor, May 2002

Member Appreciation Day, Organic vs. free-range eggs, Thank you for getting involved

News bites, May 2002

Wonder Bread in hot water, GE crop data, Consumer insights, and more