Seth Kuhl-Stennes

Seth Kuhl-Stennes
Front End Shift Lead, Eastside Food Co-op

Why do you want to serve on the Eastside Food Co-op Board of Directors?
Over the course of the last year I have extensively considered my desire to serve on the board, the commitment required, and contributions I hope to make. I want to bring a worker’s voice to the table. I have worked on the Front End for about 5½ years – through the capital campaign, expansion, consolidation vote, and unionization. I was one of the workers on the bargaining committee during contract negotiations and I am a union steward. I want to also ensure EFC upholds its commitment to cooperative principles, ends statement, mission, and triple-bottom-line organization (one that equally values and upholds people, planet, and profit).

What kinds of skills, interests, and experience would you bring to the board?
I have 11 years of board experience - three with the Green Party of Minnesota and eight with Gardening Matters. I am especially strong in the areas of visioning, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving. I have a long-time passion for local and sustainable food, equity, and inclusion.

Eastside Food Co-op is founded on the 7 International Cooperative Principles. Please choose one of the principles and describe how you think the board can encourage and foster this in a cooperative.
Though all the cooperative principles are highly valuable, for purposes of this question I choose Democratic Owner Control. I think the board can encourage and foster this principle in two ways.

 One, the board must create an environment where members feel compelled and able to actively participate. The board shall work to remove barriers and develop inspiration among owners.

 Two, the board needs to reclaim their own democratic control. Over the years the board has delegated much authority and responsibility to the general manager, and consequently, has conceded a great deal of power. The board must reverse this course, and I am willing to work collaboratively with other board members and the general manager to make that happen.

Tell us your experience in working with fiduciary responsibilities for an organization.
As a board member with Gardening Matters and the Green Party of Minnesota I helped with the oversight of each organizations finances and financial obligations. Work with these smaller organizations helped me a great deal in developing financial literacy as it relates to organizational management and vision.

Tell us your experience in collective-decision making.
I have much experience in collective decision making from my board service at Gardening Matters and the Green Party of Minnesota. I have practiced Roberts Rules of Order and majority rule as well as circle processes and consensus decision making. During my tenure at Gardening Matters, we transitioned from the former to the latter. While challenging at times, there are amazing benefits to greater dialogue and broader decision making. I would push the board to explore and hopefully adopt these practices.