Sunday, May 2, 2010

Welcome to my new blog.

At today's Board meeting, my resignation as President of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative was accepted, and a new president (Dawn Mahiya, member of the board, and presently also served as our Membership chair) was elected.

So what's the first thing I did? Well, I ate supper. Then I listened to the Te Deum on You Tube -- from Notre Dame Cathedral. And then I decided to start this blog. One of the comments at the board meeting was that some members didn't want to lose access to my various commentaries on local food issues and especially the recipes (and yes, post two will be a recipe -- Home-made Cheesey Poofs -- I kid you not. I made them and they are delicious.

So, even though I have several blogs, where I post more or less frequently as I have time, inclination, and something to say, I figured, "Why not one more blog?" None of my blogs have the specific focus of this one -- which will be on the politics of food, the local food coop movement, and the practicalities of the local food pantry. (With some occasional music, lol.)

I call it "Bobaganda" because that's what it is. I don't think I coined the term, someone else in the coop used it to describe my emails to the membership of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative and I picked it up as a good short-hand description of my writing on these subjects.

The topic of local foods is of course of endless fascination to me, and a growing number of other folks. When we started the Oklahoma Food Coop, we said, "Local foods are the next big thing." And that has come to pass. Now, everybody is talking about local foods. And the push back is starting. We're watching several regulatory challenges, one at least of which has the potential to destroy the burgeoning market for local meats, about which more will be said probably tomorrow. The price of local food is eternal vigilence, among other things, and I think we can't be passive about that. The big guys see the handwriting on the wall, and they know the easiest way to deal with us is through the regulatory system. It's up to all of us to defend our rights to produce and eat local foods (and to use locally produced non-food items).

When I was president, a certain reticence was required by my position. I know it's almost humorous to say the words "reticence" and "Bob Waldrop" in the same sentence, I don't feel that kind of restriction now, and with this blog I can freely comment on issues both within and ourside of the cooperative as time passes.

The Oklahoma Food Cooperative is in a very interesting time of transition, and I'm not just speaking of the transition from one president to another. In most cooperatives, there is a fairly strict line between management and the board of directors. Management is in charge of operations, and the board is in charge of governance. Yet, from the beginning, management and the board have largely been the same group of people. It is actually modeled on the typical method of operation of non-profit organizations, where an active board determines and executes policies. I think that model served us well in the beginning. It was probably the only way to get started, being as how we started small, and without any paid staff. We simply transitioned, by and large, the governance structure of the original Committee to Organize an Oklahoma Food Cooperative, into the actual Oklahoma Food Cooperative.

What I see happening now is a division of labor in the leadership. One of the tedious things about board meetings has been how much time we spent debating operations issues, even after we started a separate operations meeting. Over time, I expect the board will concentrate more on governance -- goals and means and boundaries and reviews -- and much less on operations, assuming our management team continues to step up to the plate and do what is required (and I have every confidence that that will happen). The coop will benefit from that division of labor, and as the Oklahoma Food Cooperative develops better systems of management and governance, we will do a better job of our core mission of growing a food system that is socially just, environmentally sustainable, and economically viable.

Expect to read more about this going forward, and feel free to post comments here at the blog about your views on developments in the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. Transparency is very important for the health of our organization.

Y'all bon apetit, you hear!

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