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Board Report
By Holly Jo Sparks, Oryana Board President
At the beginning of August, I celebrated the  rst birthday of my child, Celyn. As to be expected for any new parent, the past year was a whirlwind for me. As it turns out, this year has been a whirlwind for us all. It has been  lled with anticipation, transformation, and many unexpected changes in plans.
Celyn’s party was as adorable and exhausting as any event be  ing
this milestone. There were balloons, birthday cake (organic, no sugar!), and at least a dozen children, wiggling, giggling, and singing together—but here’s the Year of 2020 twist—no one was in the room with us. Our loved ones each joined by Zoom, sharing music and greetings through the screen. It was everything you would expect a  rst birthday party to be, while also not being anything like it. Though the celebration was virtual,
the sense of community was stronger than ever. From across multiple time zones, friends and family, who may have otherwise been unable to a end, joined us at the table.
The COVID-19 global health crisis and persistent racial injustice has put a spin on how we function in our daily existence and has called to question how we interact with others. With shi ing to low-contact, virtual-oriented lives, we may feel discouraged by the cancellations, postponements, and adaptations of events during which we’d typically observe rites of passage and li  each other up. Consequently, 2020 may feel like the year in which we feel more separated among our
communities. And yet, through all the chaos, something else has been happening.
We’re growing. We’re  nding new ways to connect with each other and
to engage a wider community. That is not to say the switch to Zoom parties and virtual business meetings has been painless, nor inclusive of everyone
we wish. Nevertheless, we’re seeing unexpected passion and resilience. Without the challenges of 2020, we may have missed the opportunity to see and experience what our community, and our co-op, have the potential to be.
For Oryana, this has meant opening a second location at the former Lucky’s Market. Without fanfare or much ado, our local community co- op made a winning bid in bankruptcy court, and Oryana West was born. Opening a second store means changing how we operate, especially in light of the continuing pandemic. Sta  have worked tirelessly for months. It has meant physical distance instead
of hugs and handshakes. Changing policies, products, and protocols, while simultaneously bringing together more shoppers and workers than ever. It’s been everything you would expect opening a second location to be, while also not being anything like it. Even
as the Year 2020 becomes hindsight, “business as usual” will never look the same.
I am humbled to see Oryana grow and remain strong in the face of these di cult times. I am also grateful for our amazing Oryana team. To our employees, our General Manager, our
shoppers, and our owners, thank you. This year has been unforge able, and more remarkable than any of us could have imagined. It is in light of these challenges and changes, that a er six years on the Oryana Board of Directors, I am truly and deeply honored to serve as the next Board President. I look forward to carrying the momentum forward, and supporting Oryana’s governance as we grow through some of the following initiatives:
• Strengthening board practices, policies, and governance documents in light of virtual decision-making and opening a second location
• Continuing to acknowledge and recognize our sta , especially
the General Manager, for their amazing accomplishments, while documenting best practices around performance evaluations and compensation
• Planning and preparing for leadership succession
• Re ecting on how to engage a more diverse, inclusive community, while keeping safe, healthy, and respectful
During these strange and uncertain times, please keep in mind that cooperatives stand stronger together and exist to serve community needs.
I wish you each good health and happiness. If I don’t see you by Zoom in the near future, I hope it is because we are together again, breaking bread.
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