As we’ve talked about in previous newsletters, our site criteria brought us to the Mangum Street location. It’s the only site that fits all the criteria, and we haven’t found the financing necessary to develop the store there.
Where to from here? First, no one is giving up on the Mangum Street site—we’ll continue to work on financing the location. But we’re no longer focusing exclusively on it. To look at other locations means that one or more site criteria will have to be ‘relaxed.’
In late October seventy or so owners of the co-op met to share a meal, elect six board members and talk about site criteria at the annual owners' meeting. As a very important side note, the six board members elected are (alphabetically by first name) Ben Romeiser, Beth Fowler, Brian Burtram, Frank Stasio, Michael Bacon and Robin Arcus. Ben, Brian and Frank are all joining the board for the first time.
Meredith Emmett, facilitator extraordinaire, moderated the discussion on criteria. She divided the assembled owners into 14 small groups and handed each group a set of five cards. The sets were identical, and the five cards represented five site criteria and general thresholds for each. They were (in no particular order) a) ample parking at the front door; b) location near downtown; c) open by the end of 2012; d) outdoor activity space; and e) size of 10,000 square feet.
Each group was given the task of choosing one of the criteria to eliminate. After they eliminated one criteria they were asked to choose one criteria they considered essential. Finally they were asked to once again choose one criteria to eliminate. After each step the groups rated the difficulty of agreeing on the choice made.
In the first round eight groups eliminated the outdoor event space, three groups threw out the deadline for opening a store, two groups tossed the store size and one group discarded the downtown area for the store. All of the groups reported that it was moderate to very difficult to get agreement—just within their small group!
In the second round seven groups agreed that parking is essential. Six groups agreed that they wanted to keep the store in the downtown area, and the remaining group decided that having the store open by the end of 2012 was essential.
In the third round six groups tossed the criteria of size and four eliminated the deadline for opening the store. The downtown location and outdoor event space were eliminated by two groups each.
It was fairly clear that the guidance the small groups gave the board of directors is that the board should first consider letting go of the outdoor space and size criteria, while working to keep the store in the downtown area with adequate parking.
In the wrap up discussion one thing the participants all agreed upon was that getting consensus on what the store should be like—and where it should be located—is at best difficult to achieve.
The board meets again on Nov 15, with three new board members, and one thing for sure is that site criteria will be on the agenda. The board will continue its difficult task of finding a location—the right location—for Durham Central Market.
If you have thoughts about a location, you can share them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What else can you do? Volunteer for one of the co-op’s many events, wear your t-shirt and use your tote bag, put a bumper sticker on your car, host a house party (we’ll come and talk!) to introduce your friends to the co-op or join a committee!