May-June Board Blog

Last Updated: June 12th, 2013 by Three Rivers Market.

On a rainy Saturday in a roomy cabin on a hillside overlooking the Smokies, your Board of Directors gathered this May to envision the world we wish to live in. They call it a retreat, but don’t imagine us rocking away, musing peacefully on a sunlit southern porch. The retreat is a cross between a heavy-duty think tank and a highly evolved “Breakfast Club” designed to involve the nine Directors and General Manager in a productive, inspired huddle. Our goals are to hone our understanding and fluency on the advantages of cooperative business and become a cohesive force for positive, long-term change in Knoxville.

The setting of this retreat couldn’t be more appropriate—Highlander Resource and Education Center. For those unfamiliar with this East Tennessee gem, Highlander has been a heroic force for social and economic justice since 1932. In the spirit of this noble locale we gathered to strategize—to think big—as trustees for our members, and to inspire ourselves and each other with the value and success our co-op brings to the Knoxville community.

And how do we define success? Your co-op is growing and thriving—our sales, customer count and owner memberships have been on the rise. Three Rivers Market improves our local economy and environment in concrete ways: Bus passes, composting, charitable donations, green store design and operation, to name a few. We support local farmers and product vendors while providing a unique place for Knoxvillians to purchase and dine on healthy natural and organic food. We also provide meaningful jobs, recycle, minimize waste, and give back to the community responsibly at a profit.

A unique strength of the cooperative is our commitment to an idealistic and future-oriented vision for Knoxville. We want everyone to have access to affordable healthy food, and we want everyone to be part of a healthy, sustainable community and environment. When we meld our individual minds together the positive power of the organization expands and reverberates. Unlike most businesses that rest upon one leader’s ideas, Three Rivers Market is empowered by everyone in the community who devotes energy to its cause. And in turn, this involvement improves upon the mission and helps to regulate and monitor progress.

In the modern world it is increasingly difficult to find a hero—a mythological being of courage who embodies all that is good in this world. Three Rivers Market runs on dollars and business sense, the constraints of the local and global economy, and the immediate interests of members. However, the cooperative culture also has the freedom to plan and embark upon bold ideas. The hero in this case is not one colorfully caped individual, but a community of members who truly care about the health and well-being of all. We left the cabin that gray May Saturday moved and motivated.

Knoxville is our city, ripe for positive change. Three Rivers Market intends to be ready to expand its horizons as opportunities arise. As individual members, you are encouraged to step up, get involved, and share your ideas and visions with us, for it is as a community that we will grow and change to co-create a just, joyful, and sustainable future.

Jenny Weisent
Three Rivers Market Board of Directors