West Michigan Co-op's Board of Director's annual meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 8, at 6:30 at Media Rare (1111 Godfrey SW). Everyone is welcome to attend.
At the meeting, a vote will be held to fill several open positions on the board. The candidates running for these positions were asked to submit a statement about themselves so that the voters can get to know them a little better. Below are those candidate statements.
My name is Ginger Graham, and I own Daisy Doodles, a Montague-based small business named after my son’s sweet yellow lab and dedicated to providing a terrific treat made with a light pawprint. Maybe you’ve seen Daisy’s stand-in and me on pickup nights. Anyway, while my business is young and my co-op membership younger, my connection to the earth goes way back to my childhood (you don’t really need to know how far back that was).
Why do I offer my services as a potential Co-Op board member? I do it because I believe in what the Co-Op stands for, and what it is building. I’m willing to give of my time and talents because I’m convinced that cooperative community is what will allow us to thrive even if the future takes some drastic turns for which we may or may not be prepared. I believe that it is our sacred obligation to live respectfully by treating the earth with kindness and helping to provide healthful products and nutritious foods for people (and pets). I’d like to learn much and contribute in kind. I enjoy associating with interesting and forward-thinking people.
Raised by a mother who graced our yard with the most beautiful perennial flowerbeds in the neighborhood, I came by gardening naturally. After venturing out into the brave new world of big cities and distant states, I have returned to my roots, both literally and figuratively. Several years ago I rediscovered my gardening passion, on a plot (expanded to three the next year) in a local farmer’s organic community garden. Since then I’ve moved my Garden Tir na nOg to my front yard (we really DO eat the view!), acquired a small mixed flock of laying hens who help with pest control and fertilization, and started a business which is committed to supporting the local food system and economy by sourcing our ingredients as locally as possible. I also participated as a grower/producer for CUSP, a project of the Greater Grand Rapids Local Food Systems Council, supplying community-grown organic produce to restaurants in Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Whitehall.
Just a bit more on the personal front: I’m a mother, a teacher, an entrepreneur, an activist, a musician, an artist, a gardener, an environmentalist, an animal lover, a peace monger, a champion for the underdog, a homesteader wannabe, and a Pisces. I can find my way around a computer with some competence, my writing skills are pretty decent, and I work very diligently on projects I value. I don’t know if it matters here or not, but I have a BA in Applied Liberal Studies from WMU and an M ED from Aquinas College. So now you know.
I joined West Michigan Co-Op in 2007. The first month that I joined the Co-Op I began volunteering and have been here almost every month since then. I love being able to interact with the other members while helping the Co-Op run.
While my primary job is in the legal field, I have also worked as a managing cashier in a retail setting and as a volunteer cashier at a school auction. I think that both of these areas benefit me with working with the Co-Op.
The law firm I work with is very much into technology (we’re basically paperless!), and I have a lot of experience with how an organization can use technology to improve efficiency and lower costs, all while making it a fun place to work. My husband is also a software engineer. Both my co-workers, friends, and husband offer me many connections and lots of insight for helping develop the technology side of the Co-Op.
In my “past life” as a cashier, I was routinely involved in balancing the cash drawers and supervising the overall use of the systems. I have experience in how a business can monitor its transactions and increase customer service and transaction speed.
If you’ve met me on pick-up night, I think it’s no secret that I am a people person. I love working with the Co-Op, interacting with the other members, and I look forward to serving on the Board so that I can help the Co-Op continue to grow and best serve its members.
I am Amy Neis and I am currently a board member. I was elected as the board alternate in 2010 and have throughly enjoyed my learning year.
My start with the co-op began back in the beginning when you actually had to wait to be invited to join! I felt so lucky when I ﬁnally got that email telling me I could become an ofﬁcial member. Yippee, we were ﬁnally in!
After joining, I felt drawn to volunteering. Local food, local products, getting to know who was growing what and how it was being grown were all things I felt very strongly about. I started to realize I wanted to be more than just a member, I wanted to get involved. So, my family and I started volunteering for pick-up nights. Soon word came that committees were forming and needed members to volunteer. It was at that point I also became a membership committee member. After a couple of years as a committee member, I became the head of the membership committee and board liaison, which I continue to do currently.
My past history, if you want to go that far, includes being co-owner of a family design business. I feel it has helped me in my understanding of not only how the co-op works, but also in regard to the producers themselves and how we need to understand their needs as small businesses inside the larger umbrella of the co-op.
So, with my history in front of you, I just want to say that I would love the opportunity to continue to serve on the board.
Elizabeth Van Doorne
I believe I am well suited for a board position with the West Michigan Cooperative for numerous reasons, but the most relevant include my current employment along with my past course work and research interests in both my undergrad and graduate programs of study.
In August 2010 I started work with the West Regional Planning Commission as the primary planner and GIS technician (cartographer). Regional cohesion in urban planning is crucial to not only man made schemes such as large scale transit, but also because our natural resources don’t necessarily adhere to political boundaries such as city borders or highways. It is of utmost importance to work together as a region for effective and comprehensive planning for farmland preservation, economic development, and many other initiatives that will affect the quality of life in West Michigan.
My undergraduate degree in Anthropology included a summer field school that focused on local food systems and their relationship to the farmers market in Grand Rapids. This set the stage for a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Geography at Western Michigan University, where my research focuses on farmland preservation in fringe communities. I am currently in the last stage of my MA, which is a thesis on comparative analysis of various urban planning techniques used to balance community growth and development without losing a rural character along with precious farmland in townships adjacent to Grand Rapids.
Aside from what I already described, I want to join the board because I believe in creating positive change. Complacency in our society is fast becoming the norm, and it is up to the people of West Michigan to practice responsibility in our actions and plans. After all, if we all enjoy living here so much, we certainly should work to preserve the character and environment for the future.