Small Steps — Introducing Sociocracy in an Established Food Co-op by Andy Grant and Alexander Davidson Carroll

Andy Grant & Alexander Davidson Carroll: Small Steps — Introducing Sociocracy in an Established Food Co-op

Andy is a working member of Sociocracy For All. He is serving a second term on the board of the Franklin Community Co-op in western Massachusetts (US), where he championed the use of sociocracy, within board meetings, informally, and in the Healthy Food Access Committee that he chairs. Andy lives with his partner in a cohousing community that runs on sociocracy.

Alex is a 17-year-old artist, activist, and general life enthusiast living in western MA. He is a dually enrolled community college and homeschool student who has spent many years in a homeschool cooperative implementing sociocracy. He is a new SoFA member who began information systems work with SoFA at the age of 15 under the tutelage of Andy Grant. At the Franklin Community Co-op, Alex has served as the facilitator of the Healthy Food Access Committee for the past year.

Presentation: A report on bringing sociocratic practice to one board committee in a 40-year-old consumer-owned food co-op where, according to the bylaws, decisions are made by majority vote and, for operational oversight, the co-op uses policy governance (Carver method), and the workers are unionized. How does sociocracy fit in this mix? The co-op board recently approved a charter for the Healthy Food Access Committee that names specific elements — defined membership, consent decision making, role selection, etc — without calling it sociocracy. Andy is the board-appointed chair of that committee and Alex was selected by the committee as the facilitator. We’ll share our experience and explore to what extent sociocracy is meaningful in this context. What is possible? Is it worth the effort? What governance practice does the co-op need? In what ways does sociocracy advance the cooperative ideal?

More on cooperatives and sociocracy

Further SoFA Reading

National, regional and local chapters – expanding sociocracy

National, regional and local chapters – expanding sociocracy

This article shows how sociocratic circle structures of small, nested, linked circles can connect while keeping each group and each meeting meaningful while making sure information and services can flow through the organization. In addition to standard sociocratic tools of linked circles, this article also makes use of two additional tools: the function of a help desk and the function of a community of practice.

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