Mary Ellen Solon

My name is Mary Ellen, I’ve lived in the Upper Valley for four years, and I am excited for this opportunity to become more involved in the co-op’s good work. For the past four years I’ve worked at Montpelier High School as the school social worker, during which time I’ve developed a great deal of skills at policy implementation and evaluation, program development for social/emotional wellbeing, and assertive communication. Now, I own a small private therapy practice in Woodstock, VT, my home, and I’m looking for an opportunity to get more involved in the upper valley community happenings.
I love systems, justice, and people, and I love food. I also feel strongly that mental health and family well-being is directly tied to community access to nutritious, affordable and sustainable food sources, and so I want this opportunity to promote nourishment and thriving within the co-op membership by serving on the board. 
I look forward to the contributing to the member-vision of advancing local economy, agriculture, and community, and I hope my perspective as a working-mom with a toddler will help cultivate and strengthen our vision further. Thanks for considering me!

Candidate Questions

Why are you applying for a position on our Co-op’s Board of Directors and what is important to you about serving now? I live in Woodstock, VT and have commuted to Montpelier for work so my ability to invest in my local community has been stymied. Being engaged with others in support of a community's thriving is really important to my values and beliefs, and as a working-mom it's been hard to create that space for myself. Now that I am working in the Upper Valley, the opportunity to serve as a co-op board member seems like a great way to meet the needs of others and myself. I foresee being able to learn a lot about systems, organizations, and community members in the upper valley, feeling really connected and enriched to this place that I'm compelled to raise my family in, as I contribute my expertise in providing micro, mezzo and macro interventions to improve the well being of others. 
What is our Co-op doing well, and what needs improvement? I love the fact that 85% of the investment stays in the Upper Valley, contributing actively to a sustainable economy. I also love how the co-op strives to create positive and enriching community space, which makes me feel like I can rely on it for the health and well-being of my family (I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to attend a cooking class!). As for improvements, I need to study, learn, and listen more about the co-op and what members need from it before I can speak to this point, which I hope to do actively should I be elected to the board. 
How should our Co-op go about educating others about health and wellness issues pertaining to products sold? I think it would be useful to expand learning opportunities to parents of young children. Little people take up so much time so it can be hard to provide a quick, affordable and nutritious meal even with the best of intentions and planning. Though I know the co-op has an awesome newsletter and online database for recipes, sometimes I forget to access those resources until the moment has already passed. I think it would be cool if every month a QR code was put next to one local and seasonal veggie on sale that could link to three easy recipes that I could try feeling confident that my kid would not throw it on the floor. It would help me in the moment to make an informed choice about meal planning that is both doable and affordable, a goal I know many parents are striving for, too.


 Nourish. Cultivate. Cooperate.

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