Monday, February 18, 2013

Goal 3 -- Safeguards Charter and WeaverStarter ??

After the apparent stalemate of the WSM Owners' Discussion on Goal 3 (more WSM stores) of the putative 2020 Vision of Weaver Street Market Co-operative's Board and corporate office management team, I had a couple of ideas to help break the stalemate.

The stalemate came about because the WSM Board and corporate office management team seemed to be suggesting that they had all the authority they needed from a rather obscure provision of WSM's Mission Statement to proceed with building more stores, whereas the owners present felt the provision much too vague, and wanted much more discussion, to allow downsides to be considered.

I attach my letter to the WSM Board, with what I think are the self-explanatory suggestions:

"I would be grateful if these further thoughts could be forwarded to the Board, please.

Thank you for hosting last evening's discussion on Goal 3. I re-iterate that on a subject of such moment I think we need much more discussion before the Board can take the view that it has the support of owners to interpret a rather weak phrase of the Mission Statement as giving it authority to forge ahead with invigorating downtowns and planning more stores.

At the same time, I would invite the Board to consider drafting a Charter of Safeguards, to render some ease to the worries that were being expressed last evening. Maybe something like this:

* That no plans for invigorating downtowns or building more stores will be advanced until specific and express approval for such has been obtained from a General Meeting of Owners.

* That no such plans will be advanced until the existing long-term debt has been repaid in full.

* That no such plans will be advanced until all other alternatives have been considered and reported to owners.

* That no such plans will be advanced until employees have given their approval that such plans will not impose undue burden upon them, such approval to be forthcoming from a Full Meeting of the Employees of WSM.

* That any such plans will only be advanced when full funding has been pledged from sources that are neither borrowed nor drawn upon operating funds or profits.

Some of us were discussing a thought after the meeting, which might help to alleviate concerns about funding duress upon the normal operations of WSM, financial sustainability and worker burden. Why not copy Kickstarter?

Each and every item of capital invigoration or store-building should have a fund-raising drive. Where full plans are presented on a companion web-site. Plans which have the express approval of workers and owners. And then the web-site operates like Kickstarter.

There is a total amount for the funding needed. With a deadline. No-one need commit money. Only a pledge. The plan only to advance if full pledging is achieved by the cut-off date.

All the best,
Geoff Gilson

[As always, other ideas of mine which I believe could make WSM a stronger business and a better co-op can be found on this blog.]