Report from the board

Dear Karma Community, 

I hope this message finds each of you in good health and good spirits amidst these unprecedented times. The board of directors wishes to sincerely thank you for your continued displays of support, and for sharing your ideas and feedback. Your notes of thanks to staff, offers to deliver groceries to our vulnerable seniors and members in quarantine, and so much more, have been beautiful reminders of how special our Karma community is, and I’m immensely grateful to be part of it. 

To our staff — thank you! We recognize the extraordinary efforts you are making to keep Karma operational, and we hope that we are doing our part in helping you feel safe each time you come to work. 

The board of directors met last night and reviewed our COVID protocols and response, and we want to share a few reminders and updates. 

We know that many of you are eager to help the co-op, and member labour has been temporarily paused. We have created a task force to review the needs of the co-op throughout COVID, and we hope to have member labour creatively redeployed in June. Once the task force has had the opportunity to review our member labour system, members will have the option to take on member labour or move to percentage mark-up or flat fee.

The board of directors, in cooperation with our newly formed Marketing & Communications Committee and the Food Issues Committee, are seeking member input to help update co-op policies, and create a vision for the future of our store. We hope that each of you will take time to provide us with feedback so that we can adapt and improve for you. Please watch for an email with the survey later this month. 

Finally, a quick update on the store’s COVID-19 protocols.Here is what we are doing for you:

  • Sanitizing the check out between each transaction
  • Washing scoops after each use so that we can continue to offer dry bulk
  • Cleaning all high-use surfaces frequently, including door handles, scales, bulk feed handles, registers, etc
  • Vulnerable shoppers’ hour at the start of each day for seniors and immunocompromised members, 11 am to noon
  • Phone/E-mail orders for members who are not able to come into the store 

We are asking you to:

  • Wash your hands before entering the store
  • Practice physical distancing while in the store
  • Wear a mask to reduce the risk of unknowingly transmitting the virus to anyone in our small community

Thank you for your continued support of Karma, and we look forward to meeting or speaking with you soon. 

Sincerely,
Kristy van Beek, Karma President

Report from the board

 

Dear Karma members,

Happy New Year! Thank you for supporting Karma with your time, energy, expertise and shopping throughout 2019!

As I mentioned in the December eChronicle, our new Board’s November orientation and planning days helped identify 24 issues to address in 2020. We are just getting started on a few of these priorities, which range from clarifying existing policies and procedures to developing new ones. We are taking a programmatic approach to this work by creating a set of continuously developing guides and manuals that include a Board Minutes Style Guide, Members’ Manual, and Health & Safety Program. Necessary training, information, and resources will also be included in these documents.

Our goal in doing this work is twofold: to enhance access to information for all Karma stakeholders and to set us all up for success now and in future succession planning. We want to improve consistency and reduce the barriers to entry by establishing processes and programs that can be passed on to future boards, committees or staff teams.

 

At this time we are seeking member expertise and participation on a few priority projects in 2020:

  • The Health and Safety Committee will be developing a comprehensive Health & Safety Program for Karma. Current members are Board members Jim O’Reilly and Andrea Dawber, and GM Talia McGuire.

Seeking an HR professional (HRPA designation) and another certified Joint Health & Safety Committee Member with compliance and policy/procedure experience.

  • The Staff Liaison Committee is looking to enhance overall organizational efficiency and improve workload fairness among all committee and staff members. Committee members include Board members Lindsey Shorser, Kristy Van Beek, and Andrea Dawber, working in collaboration with GM Talia McGuire.

Seeking a skilled HR professional to help with a job role analysis and the development of integrated processes that enhance overall effectiveness, responsiveness and efficiency of committee and staff teams.

  • The Board of Directors would like to host a spring Committee Planning Day or half-day.

Seeking skilled and experienced facilitators to support member engagement in small and large groups, participating in a variety of planning activities.

 

Our 2019–2020 Board is excited for Karma in the year ahead, and we are looking forward to getting to know more of our membership in the store soon. We’d love to hear your view of what we’re doing well, areas to improve on, or any new ideas you may have. Please contact us at board@karmacoop.org.

On behalf of Karma’s new board of directors, thank you for actively participating in our food co-op.

 

Submitted by Andrea Dawber, Vice-President, Karma Co-op

2019–2020 Board Orientation & Planning Days in November

Hello from your new 2019–2020 Board of Directors! At the recent AGM, Karma members elected a new board and, for the first time in many years, we have a full complement of 10 directors! It was great to see such interest in the board and engagement in the co-op. Several directors are continuing two-year terms but to get all the new members up to speed, Karma’s President, Kristy van Beek, organized two days of board orientation and planning that was also open to any interested Karma committee members.

On behalf of all of us attending, I would like to thank Kristy for organizing and facilitating two great days of board orientation, governance training, engaging conversations, and planning. Our new Board of Directors and several committee members came together to learn about our new roles and to identify the work we need to accomplish in the year ahead.

On Saturday, November 16, 2019, we explored various aspects of board governance and our roles and responsibilities, identifying gaps in policy/practice as we proceeded. Later that day, Dan Kleiman, household member and regulatory litigator, spoke about Karma’s duties and obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. He shared a few legal stories about workplace accidents and identified common safety needs for workplaces like Karma to protect its staff and member volunteers.

On Sunday, November 24, we started the day with a comprehensive history of Karma by Howard Kaplan, who became a member in Karma’s inaugural year of 1972! We all greatly benefited from Howard’s excellent memory and oral history telling, which was captured on video for our future records. Kristy then facilitated a full day of workshops to dig into Karma’s Why, How, What, and we performed an analysis of Karma’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Over the course of the two days, we identified a list of 20+ issues to address over the coming year. Our next step is to solicit further feedback from staff to help us prioritize tasks, including items that can be addressed quickly and easily.

Next month, the board will be seeking member participation on 2 to 3 priority projects. In the upcoming e-Chronicle, we will announce the member expertise and skills we seek to move these special projects forward. On behalf of Karma’s new board, I welcome your questions and feedback, and invite your active participation in our food co-op. After all, the co-op exists to serve its members, and we’d love to hear your view of what we’re doing well, the areas to improve on, or any new ideas you may have. You can contact us at board_list@karmacoop.org.

For more information on our new board members, please see our Board of Directors page on the website.

Submitted by Andrea Dawber

Report from the board

Greetings Karma Owners!

It was exactly a year ago this month that I first discovered a hidden gem, our amazing little food store. 

I came to Karma initially, after watching videos by YouTuber, Fully Raw Kristina, on my quest to test out a raw vegan diet (diet result, #fail). In one video, Kristina takes a trip to her local food co-op, and I immediately wondered, “Why don’t I shop in a food co-op?” You see, I live in a co-op, and as such, I already shared the values which are innate to the fabric of many co-ops: community, responsibility, democracy, connection, co-operation. In just over a month, I attended an introductory orientation, joined as a member, ran for the board, attended my first AGM, and was elected. In just one short year I have learned so much about Karma — certainly more than I’d ever anticipated! And, I’m finally beginning to feel like I have a sense of what’s going on.

Let’s start with some of thing things that happened in July — the good, the bad, and the ugly

I’ll first clear up the bad, and the ugly. The bad news is that the store suffered two floods in the month of July, in addition to one in May. Our staff, and in particular our general manager, Talia, have been phenomenal and working tirelessly to minimize the impact of this. A huge thanks for all of your extra efforts! It seems some considerable repairs will be needed (that’s the ugly). The Building Committee have been working together with Talia to research our options. We will update members at our upcoming AGM on what work was done, and what costs were incurred. Please be patient, as there will be repairs underway this month.

The good (great!) this month was our visit from Jon Steinman — member-owner and former board member of Canada’s largest food co-op, The Kootenay Co-op in British Columbia, producer and host of the Deconstructing Dinner podcast, and author of Grocery Story: The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants. Jon gave a great talk to approximately 60 people, where he shared the importance of food stores like ours. Food, as Jon reminded us, is a basic human necessity. We all inherently know this to be true, and, where we live, we are lucky enough to be able to easily forget and even take our access to food for granted. And yet, as basic a need as food is, most Canadians (roughly 81%) purchase their groceries from one of the top five Canadian grocers, who provide little to no information about where the food comes from, what went into its production, or who produced it. Consumers also have no control or influence over the food system — the grocers primarily dictate the producer’s standards and price and shape the competitive landscape, leaving small producers virtually unable to compete. One of the greatest benefits (joys?) of being a member of Karma, is that we too are owners of our co-op, and we can access food that has been vetted to ensure that our products meet the standards of our members, our producers receive equitable compensation for the products they supply, and smaller producers have a market for their products. To learn more, pick up a copy of Jon’s book next time you’re in the store. You can also follow Jon on Twitter (@Grocery_Story) or Instagram (@jonsteinman_grocerystory). 

On the horizon we have our next Annual General Meeting and election of new members to our board of directors. As owners of our co-op, it is vital that we attend to not only ensure a future for our co-op, but also to help shape it. I understand that our meetings usually fall on the first Monday following Thanksgiving weekend; however, since that is the date of our upcoming federal election, the date, and possibly the venue, will have to be shifted slightly this year. Please keep an eye out for a Save The Date coming soon announcing more details of this year’s meeting, and plan to attend. I am also putting a call out to you now to please consider running for a spot on the board. Currently, we are functioning with a board which is about half the size of what would be considered ideal. As you can imagine, this makes it challenging to truly thrive as an organization. Our board, our committees, our manager, our staff, and I’m sure many of you have amazing ideas to make Karma even better — but we can’t do it without you. I would ask you to think about what the future of Karma means to you, and if it’s in your heart to do so, please consider joining us next year so that we can continue to enjoy our special gem. 

Wishing you all the very best as you soak up these beautiful days of summer. 

Sincerely, 

Kristy van Beek

PS. I’d love to hear from you! Reach me on Twitter (@kikilynnrocks), or by email, president@karmacoop.org

Report from the board

Dear Karma Members,

I would like to introduce you to the new 2018/2019 Board of Directors, many of whom were voted in at the most recent members Annual General Meeting which took place October 15, 2018.

To begin, my name is Kristy van Beek, and I will be serving as president of the board for this term. Although I am a new to Karma, I am not new to co-ops. I also serve as president of the Board of Directors for METTA Housing Co-operative. I love everything that Karma stands for, and the ethics and values that we support by shopping at Karma.

I’m very excited about this year’s Board, and I’m looking forward to working with this group of committed, thoughtful volunteers to guide us through the upcoming year, and to plan for a successful future for the co-op. Allow me to introduce:

Jocelyn Rodrigues — Vice President

Rosemary Frey — Secretary

Donald Altman — Treasurer

Reece Steinberg — Strategic Planning

Lindsey Shorser — Technology Secretary

Julie McKernan — Director

Tom Smarda — Director

Although we have not yet had the opportunity to do a formal goal setting exercise, items which we have already identified as priorities will be to continue the strategic planning project which was started by the previous board, to look at possible updates to Karma’s website, and to negotiate a new collective agreement for our staff. I imagine there will be much more, but for the time being, these, along with overseeing the day-to-day should keep everyone busy.

If you have any questions, comments, feedback, or would like to find ways that you can contribute to projects which are happening within Karma, please feel free to send me a message at board@karmacoop.org. I look forward to hearing from you and getting more involved in this wonderful community.

Sincerely,

Kristy van Beek

From the GM — November 2018

Dear Karma Members,
I am happy to announce that Karma recruited an almost entirely new Board of Directors at our AGM last month. We have six new officers and two who are returning. While I wasn’t able to be at the AGM to welcome all the new faces, I am thrilled and impressed with the enthusiasm these folks have already brought forward. I am looking forward to working with all of you in the year ahead. Welcome to the Karma Co-op Board!
I also would like to say a very big thank you to the outgoing officers who worked so hard over the last year to keep the Co-op moving forward. There were some big changes to our store over the year, and those wouldn’t have been possible without the energies of everyone on the Board. I enjoyed working with you all so much, and I learned so much over the last year. I will miss you all but look forward to seeing you at the store.
At the store, we are busy getting ready for the holidays! This means, stocking up on holiday ingredients, ordering great products that will make thoughtful gifts, and yes, merchandising the Darn Tough socks. 🙂
Lastly, I want to wish everyone a happy Hanukkah! Hanukkah is early this year and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to extend my warmest wishes. Happy Hanukkah everyone!

Report from the board—June 2018

Happy spring! Or is it summer? All of the lovely weather has brought many of us out and about and ushers in a flurry of activities as we relish warm, sunshine-filled days. Your Karma Board of Directors is no exception. We recently welcomed three new board members, Kat Biondi, Julie McKernan, and Rebecca Waterhouse into our ranks. Kat and Rebecca will serve the remainder of the term with the possibility of extending their terms beyond this year’s Annual General Meeting and Julie has committed to a two-year term. Read on to learn a bit more about your new board members.

Kat Biondi’s passion for community engagement and community building led her to join the board, where she hopes to engage in more conversations around food systems, environmental impact, and food security issues. Kat has been working in the not-for-profit sector for over a decade, in areas of fundraising, operations and administrative management, and volunteer and human resource management.

Julie McKernan is a new Karma member and decided to join the co-op and the board to become a more engaged and respectful local and global community member. Her interests are around waste reduction, supporting organic growing practices, and buying local and in-season products. While she currently works in operations and project management in the insurance field, Julie also brings retail, events coordination, communications, planning, and marketing experience to the mix.

Rebecca Waterhouse is also a new co-op member looking to engage and connect with ethical and sustainable food movement champions. She brings over five years of experience in the not-for-profit and social entrepreneur sectors, and work in a variety of areas including data evaluation and analytics, program development, and strategic planning. Rebecca is interested in helping communities reclaim ownership of their food systems and creating and maintaining resilient communities.

The board has also recently formed a Strategic Planning Committee and is currently recruiting interested members to join the committee and assist in research and data collection to form the basis for the creation of a Strategic Plan. Within the co-op (and the broader food sector), member sales and engagement continue to decline and engaging in strategic planning will help the co-op take more proactive steps to better position itself within this climate and strengthen its longevity. Those interested in learning more or joining the Strategic Planning Committee, please see the call out below. A member survey will also be circulated over the summer as part of this process, so keep your eyes peeled on your inboxes! We know summer is a busy time for everyone and we would really appreciate member engagement and support of this process. We look forward to sharing more at our upcoming Annual General Meeting.

Spring is often a time of change and there are some exciting changes on the horizon for Karma’s storefront! The co-op is already well-known for this fantastic bulk section, featuring a wide range of unique dry, refrigerated, and frozen items, including organic Ontario popping corn kernels (my favourite), hulled hemp, parmesan, wild blueberries, and cranberries, to name a few. New bulk bins and shelving are coming! They will be installed in the coming weeks, and we can’t wait to see the new and improved bulk section! Be sure to swing by the co-op after the 18th to check out the changes and load up on your favourite bulk items! This time of year means lots of outdoor barbecuing, entertaining, and picnicking in the park. No better place to find everything you need to make a memorable meal than your local food co-op!

Co-operatively Yours,

Alli Floroff (Board President)
on behalf of Board of Directors, Karma Food Co-op

Strategic Planning Committee Call-Out

Are you a self-reliant Karma member looking to

  • Gain member hours?
  • Acquire research and interview skills?
  • Contribute to the co-op?

If so, the newly-formed Strategic Planning Committee wants to hear from you! We’re looking for members with spare time over the summer to engage in research and interviewing, which would form the basis for the creation of a Strategic Plan. No experience is needed, interested members would be supported by board member, Dayna Stein, throughout the data collection process, though they would be responsible for conducting their work independently and meeting specific timelines. If you’re interested in learning more or joining the Committee, please contact Dayna at board@karmacoop.org, subject line: Strategic Planning Committee.

Report from the Board of Directors—January 2018

There were a lot of spirited conversations at this past year’s Annual General Meeting. It was my first AGM and what clearly resonated with me is how deeply members love and are dedicated to Karma. There was a lively discussion around Karma’s financials and a presentation by the Co-op’s new auditor, Thomas Kriens, of Kriens-LaRose. Karma continues to see a decline in sales although the rate of decline is slowing. The Co-op still needs to see sales growth for sustained health. Membership is also down relative to last year, but work is being done to more accurately track memberships and how/where new members are learning about the Co-op. These are both consistent themes in discussing Karma’s movement going forward. With the onset of Amazon purchasing Whole Foods, the challenge becomes how small specialty food retailers remain competitive and draw and retain new and existing members. Some exciting projects are coming down the line this year. A generous donation from an anonymous Karma member has enabled the co-op to hire Chiara Camponeschi, a social media and marketing consultant, to create a tailored social media strategy and digital campaign to help the Co-op more effectively connect with prospective members and generate new member leads. A Community Development Committee website sub-committee has also been formed to explore how the site can be more accessible, relevant, and engaging to prospective, new, and existing members. The board will also be looking forward to additional strategic measures the Co-op can take to ensure its long-term health.

We are optimistic and excited for the year ahead and see a new infusion of energy and enthusiasm as we welcome three new board members, who are joining three continuing board members. The board is excited to welcome Dayna Stein, Donald Altman (returning) for a two-year term, and Aidan Nulman for a one-year term. Kate Rusnak moves into the second year of her second two-year term on the board. Alice Barton was acclaimed for a one-year term after previously finishing a two-year term. Alli Floroff was acclaimed for a second one-year term. (Learn more about these new and returning board members by reading their biographies.) We also said goodbye to Paul Danyluk who served for five years, Brayden Lowery who served for three years, and Erin Lawson and Daniel Dundas, who both served for two years. We thank Paul for his solid leadership as board President over the past year and for providing continuity to the board. We thank Brayden Lowery for keeping the board organized and streamlining virtual organizational systems as the Corporate Secretary. We thank Erin Lawson for her warmth and enthusiasm and for acting as our meeting minute-taker. We thank Daniel Dundas for stepping into the Vice-President and Vice-President of Staff Relations roles this past year and guiding staff contract negotiations and board recruitment. As always, the board members serve Karma members, and we encourage you to connect with us in person at the store or by e-mail at board@karmacoop.org. Stay tuned to the e-Chronicle, where we will be writing regular messages.

 

by Alli Floroff (President) on behalf of the Karma Co-op Board of Directors

Meet your 2017–2018 board members

Alli Floroff (President)

Alli is excited to be returning to the board for a second one-year term as board President. Over the next year, she hopes to provide a strong anchoring point in the coordination of strategic processes and grow her leadership and facilitation experience. Alli has been a member for three years, joining while she was a Masters in Environmental Studies student at York University, where she specialized in sustainable food systems and procurement and  co-operatives

Professionally, Alli has worked extensively in the food sector for co-operatives, small business, and not-for-profits and currently works at Stasis Preserves in the Roncesvalles area. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, cooking, exploring the city on her bike, working out, practicing yoga, and taking in the city’s arts and culture scenes.

Kate Rusnak (Vice-President)

This will be Kate’s fourth year on Karma’s board. She joined Karma in 2009 and works with members interested in improving the co-op’s sales through marketing and communications efforts. In her professional life, Kate is a communications strategist for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. This year, she’s excited about special social media campaigns the co-op is undertaking to raise Karma’s profile and bring in new members.

 

 

Alice Barton (Treasurer)

Alice Barton has been a Karma member for about 12 years, and on the board as Treasurer, returning for a one-year term after completing a two-year term in the same position.  A self-employed small business owner in the practice of criminal defence law, Alice came to the law through studies in earth sciences and a combined MES/LLB from York University. Alice’s commitment to environmental and community responsibility keeps her busy: she was an active member of the Toronto Public Space Committee, a member of the board of the Community Bicycle Network, and a founding member of Bixi (now Bikeshare Toronto). She plays ultimate, and she is a mediocre and enthusiastic cook.

 

Aidan Nulman (Corporate Secretary)

Aidan is a serial entrepreneur and software developer, specializing in Javascript (including Electron, Ember.js, and Cordova), Ruby (Rails + beyond), and Swift. He was a founding partner of Isle of Code, a leading software development studio based in Toronto + Houston.

Aidan joined Karma in 2016, as he values cooking and serving organic, GMO-free, sustainable foods. He is excited to grow and improve the community as Corporate Secretary, and by working on strategic projects like a website update + social media campaigns.

Dayna Stein

Dayna Stein is a food systems and sustainability planning consultant who has worked extensively with municipalities, universities, public schools, for profits, non-profits and a First Nation community to do food system planning, impact evaluation research, market research, strategic planning, and social enterprise development. Dayna sits on the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council as co-chair of the networking committee, and before that, the education committee. She also sits on the Board of Directors for a newly formed charity called Feeding Canadian Kids. Dayna focused her academic career on sustainable and socially just food systems and their impact on nutrition, health, and community development. She graduated with a Master’s of Science in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability, focusing her Thesis on cross-sector collaboration around food waste mitigation. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Global Resource Systems from UBC and is currently pursuing a certificate from U of T in Entrepreneurship. Dayna is an eager learner, an artist, an advocate, a world traveler, and a zero-waste enthusiast. She is excited to grow within and grow out the Karma Community.

Donald Altman

I first joined a food co-op store — Don Vale (Karma II) — in the fall of 1976. Very early on I became involved in the volunteer management of the co-op, which has been the pattern for all my involvements. Then, when it folded, I joined Bain Food Co-op around 1980; and when it folded, I joined Karma around 1986. As well, I was amongst a group that tried to start a supermarket co-op in the Regent Park area of Toronto in the early 1980s. I have taken a leadership role — mostly treasurer — in all of these organizations. At Karma Co-op I have been a board member and treasurer, and I have been on the Finance Committee continuously since 1991. Most recently I was the Finance Committee chair.

At the Ontario Natural Food Company (ONFC), the trade name of the Ontario Federation of Food Co-operatives and Clubs, I have been on the Finance Committee since 1979, serving as member, treasurer, and mostly as chair. I have also served several terms on the board.

I also have many years’ experience on the boards of other co-ops and credit unions including what is now Alterna Savings and Credit Union, the Worker Ownership Development Foundation, the Church Isabella Residents Co-operative, and The Co-operators Group Limited. I have a lifetime achievement award from the Ontario Co-operative Association, a 25-year achievement award from the Ontario credit union system, and am a life member of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto. I also have been awarded the Gary Gillam Award for social responsibility from the credit union system.

I passionately believe that co-operation is the business model between capitalism and state socialism that provides the best alternate model for people involvement and the control and the distribution of surplus. I want to change the system, and I do that by volunteering and supporting co-op organizations. Karma is one of these organizations.

Karma Board Member Recruitment 2017/2018

Fellow Karma members,

In advance of the of the next Annual General Meeting (AGM) on October 16, 2017, the Karma Board of Directors is looking to recruit seven new members. We expect to have vacancies for five 2-year terms and two 1-year terms. We will be filling the positions of president, vice-president, and corporate secretary as part of seven positions being filled. As a board member, you will have the chance to make a positive impact on Karma’s growth, meet some really great people, and earn plenty of extra work hours! You can learn more about what board members do here.

We will be holding two drop-in information sessions in the Members Room at Karma: Saturday September 16 and Saturday September 23, both between 1:00 and 3:00 pm. Feel free to come meet and talk to your current board members and find out what being on the board is all about!

Are you interested but can’t make a drop-in session? No problem! Feel free to reach out anytime to me, Daniel Dundas, your Nominations Chair, at boardrecruitment@karmacoop.org.

All the best during this busy season,

by Daniel Dundas
Vice President of the Karma Board and 2017 Nominations Chair