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Board Election 2017 – Meet the Candidates! September 1st, 2017

We are pleased to present a full slate of highly qualified and committed candidates on the ballot for this year’s Board Elections. They are presented below in alphabetical order.

 Andew Blechman  Andrew Blechman

“Our Co-op is about community — a community of shared ideals and values that have an important impact on our local economy. This brand of change is not only effective, one can also see it in action on a daily basis in the form of carefully sourced often local products, local jobs at fair wages, and support for responsible civic involvement. On a national level, the cooperative movement is a beacon to all of how we can reform capitalism’s rougher edges, leading by righteous example.

As a former Great Barrington Selectman and member of the Finance Committee, I feel I have a developed set of skills that can help the Coop thoughtfully and responsibly transition into a larger organization. If elected, my areas of particular interest would be the Co-op’s financial health, as well as a focus on customer service and making the Co-op shopping experience as enjoyable and community-oriented as possible.

It would be an honor to serve you. Thank you for your consideration.”

Molly de St. Andre Molly de St André

“I have been a committed member of the board of directors for the last six years, and am excited for the opportunity to continue. My husband and I own a small design company called Moho Designs, creating local products and graphic design for local businesses.  Working closely with the community through our business, working with a local CSA for the last 7 years, and serving on the Co-op board have given me a true understanding of this community and our local food system.  I believe strongly in the Co-op economy, and that Co-ops are a truly sustainable business model, an antidote to huge corporations and the economic injustices they cause, and I know our Co-op still has growing to do toward realizing these goals.  As a mother of two young children, my voice on the board represents a growing population of young parents who are committed to healthy and affordable food for their families.  This perspective is critical, and I feel strongly as and experienced board member, I will provide much needed continuity seeing the Co-op through our current store expansion. There is so much more I feel strongly the Co-op can do for the community, and I would love to continue to be part of the leadership team who creates that vision.”

 Sam Handel Sam Handel

“Having served for two years on the board, I have been participated during a period of great change; we have transitioned to a new General Manager and continue the complicated work of expansion. While my passion for the co-op as a social and economic community resource remains, I am running for the board again based not solely on those convictions, but also to continue working in cooperation toward seeing the expansion through to successful completion. I take seriously my responsibility to all the owners to help create not only a larger store, but a store that can play a larger role in our community and beyond.”

   Jake Levin

“My name is Jake Levin, and I want to represent you on the Board of Directors of the Berkshire Cooperative Market. The Co-op faces many challenges today. The Co-op is also preparing itself for some exciting opportunities. It is a vital moment for the Co-op and that means that it needs strong leadership from people who have deep connections to the BCM community, understands the local food economy, believes in the cooperative model, and are invested in the future of Great Barrington.

I believe I am uniquely qualified to help provide that leadership. Growing up, I watched my father- Tom Levin of Tom’s Toys- help Great Barrington grow into the vibrant economic center that it is today. Then, in my time working as a department manager for the Co-op (first Produce, then Meat, Seafood, and Cheese) I got to know the owners as well as the staff and understand the multitude of perspectives and needs represented by our diverse BCM community. I am now at Jacuterie- where I experience first-hand the struggles and joys of running a small food business. I also serve as a member of the Board of Directors of Berkshire Grown.

I moved back to my hometown five years ago with my wife so that I could be an active member the amazing community in which I was raised. As my wife and I start our family here, I can’t think of a better way of helping to shape a successful and vibrant future for our community then by serving on the Board of the Berkshire Cooperative Market.”

   Karen Livingston

“I am a psychotherapist who has worked in both private practice and community mental health.  Currently, I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified Psychosynthesis and Trauma therapist working as a child and adult trauma counselor in the Berkshires and Springfield.  My work has included providing counseling and support to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse as well as being on the therapy staff for the “Opening the Heart Workshops”.  My BA in education led to becoming a certified Waldorf teacher. I have been fortunate to provide training and consultation to other educational and mental health professionals.

Throughout my adulthood I have been committed to using natural foods, sustainable agriculture, and cooperative buying.  I was a founding member of a co-op which grew from a 40 family food co-op to a store serving several communities. My involvement with the Berkshire Co-op Market began in the early Rosseter Street days when members packed bulk orders into brown paper bags.

As someone who has been a part of the Berkshire Co-op since that time I am committed to it’s well being.
I am committed to both the growth of the Co-op as well as the co-op being available to an ever growing and diversified membership.

I am committed to the financial well being of the Co-op as well as affordable food for young families, baby boomers and everyone in between.

I am committed to well stocked shelves with diversified products and produce and most importantly supporting local agriculture and businesses.

My life experience, professional and otherwise, has enabled me to work collaboratively in and with a broad range of culturally, ethnically, and economically diverse populations. As the face of the Berkshires changes and the Co-op continues to be available to an ever more diverse population with diverse needs I believe it is possible to creatively meeting those needs without losing it’s financial viability.”

  Rachel Moriarty

“I am interested in serving on the board to ensure diverse and inclusive ownership in the Berkshire Cooperative Market and a food policy that reflects the needs of its patrons and the regional economy. I am committed to making the Coop an accessible community resource for all.

I consider myself a community economist.  Born and raised in Great Barrington, I returned to the Berkshires after college to effect change in the regional food system. Through my work as the Director of Operations at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics and the Coordinator of BerkShares Local Currency, I engage with community stakeholders and seek to educate about tools that transform economies, such as regional currencies, community land trusts, and cooperative enterprises.

As a community organizer, I identify and create space for inclusivity and meaningful exchanges. As a graduate of an agricultural college, I realize our collective capacity to build a sustainable food system. As a former employee of the Coop, I understand the business model and know the owners.

I have worked for Greenagers, am a longstanding volunteer with Berkshire Grown, and currently serve as assistant to the boards of Berkshire Community Land Trust and the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires.”

   Bill Reed

“I’m very excited to be applying for a seat on the Co-op board of directors! I’m interested in being more involved in the Southern Berkshire community. In my mind the Co-op is central to our community here.  As I begin to reduce my time spent on the job, I’d like to invest that time in something that really matters.

I have a powerful background in finding ways to work together to accomplish goals. First from my thirteen years living and working at Kripalu during its formative years. Then from my thirty years in the business world, helping to take a small local business from a basement to being part of a corporate giant.

I look forward to putting this experience and my enthusiasm to good use. Thank you for your consideration.”

   Dan Seitz

“I have served on the Berkshire Co-op Market Board of Directors since 2007, including being board president. My goals for the Co-op include:

  • An unwavering commitment to organic and responsibly grown and sourced food, free of GMOs and other harmful substances;
  • A commitment to the Co-op being a vibrant and successful business, providing excellent service and products to customers;
  • A successful move to a new, expanded facility;
  • A commitment to supporting our community through education, programs for people in need, and donations to non-profits; and
  • Supporting effective board and store operations.

I have broad leadership, professional and volunteer experience that informs my work on Co-op board, including: running non-profit organizations, serving on governing boards, consulting with boards and managers of various types of organizations, providing professional facilitation for major projects, and being involved with education in alternative and holistic medical fields. I am interested in nutrition, organic farming and sustainability, and believe that cooperatives provide an essential and progressive alternative to conventional forms of capitalism. As a public member on the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards Board, I’m deeply involved with a wide range of current organic issues, including efforts to prevent GMO-contamination of organic crops.”

Voting will take place at the Annual Meeting on September 23rd. Find meeting details here.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, we encourage you to visit the store and cast an absentee ballot.

Remember, without your participation, democratic owner control is only theoretical!