2022 Black Star Board of Directors Election

Click here to vote.

Read more about the candidates below.

Candidate 1: James Farris
1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?
I believe strongly in the mission and vision for Black Star Co-op. I have been a longtime
patron of the Co-op and a member since 2017, when I attended my first members assembly. I
love the sense of community, both among members and staff and the way the Black Star acts
on the seven co-op principles to be a positive part of the larger community. I believe Black
Star is something special in the Austin brewpub scene and would like to continue doing my
part to support and strengthen it.

2. What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year? Five years?
I would like to see Black Star strengthen its financial position, while growing the awareness
among existing and potential patrons of the unique qualities and features that set it apart
within the brewpub scene in Austin. I would like to see it continue to make strides in building
a community around the co-op mission as well as high quality beer and food offerings that
incorporate member input in the development and selection.

3. What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of
Passion for this place. I enjoy meeting and listening to all the members and staff over the
years. Their opinions and love of Black Star always help ground me when considering
actions on the board. I have had the good fortune to learn a lot from my fellow board
members and have developed a great working relationship with the Workers Assembly. I also
have a broad set of skills and experience gained from my degrees in Math and Public Affairs
and working in jobs doing data analysis, program evaluation, performance improvement,
and policy development in state government.

4. Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from
other local brewpubs.
Community and customer involvement. I think the key ingredient in what makes Black Star
special to me is the spirit of involvement and cooperation that underpin its founding and
business model. I love to tell people about the living wage paid to staff, the way the folks who
work here have direct input into how things are run, how members are more than just
customers – they’re owners, and how all these things come together into celebration of work,
quality, integrity, and beer.

5. What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?
Democratic member control. This principle, where members and staff have a stake in
establishing the community and priorities is a key to what Black Star offers. These days when

you can go online and order anything from anywhere, or drop-in on snapshots of life from
friends or celebrities and click to show your reaction, this principle says you’re not just
buying a commodity when you become a member of the co-op, you’re participating in a
community. When you come to events or talk to staff you give shape to this community with
your voice.

Candidate 2: Bear Philippe

1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?
Since the first time that I heard about Black Star Co-op, I was immediately interested in
learning more. I had recently moved to Austin after having moved from the Detroit
area—where I grew up—to live for several years in Central Illinois, and I was eager to
explore the benefits of once again living in a busy metropolitan area. I was searching online
for interesting bars, and I came across Black Star and its description as a co-operative,
which piqued my interest. In Illinois I had been an AFSCME union member and I missed the
cooperative nature of representing my coworkers’ interests in dealing with management. I
made the drive across town to visit Black Star, and had a great time chatting with the Pub
Team about the co-op and enjoyed sampling the excellent beer selection. Since then, I have
moved clear across town to a place just a short walk from Black Star, and my wife and I have
been member-owners for almost a year now.
The nature of the co-op appeals to my interests in working to increase equity and equality in
general, as well as organization and solidarity in the working class in particular. Along with
my union background—which extends in my family back to the very beginnings of auto
unions in Detroit—I was very active socially and politically in Illinois, and I’ve sought to
establish relationships which could facilitate that kind of involvement here in Austin. This
has been made difficult by the isolation of the past few years due to the pandemic. Discussing
running for the Board of Directors with board members and members of the Worker
Assembly have inspired me to use this opportunity to both forge and solidify those
relationships with the good people of Black Star Co-op and its patrons, as well as to help the
co-op work towards our shared goals to further the growth and success of the co-op and
develop sustainability in our community.

2. What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year? Five years?
I would like to use my skills and experience to help facilitate and improve cooperation within
the Board of Directors and between the various groups that compose the co-op. Without a
greater understanding of the inner workings of the co-op. I can only say broadly that I would
like to assist in shepherding current projects, such as the remodel, to fruition and to help
raise awareness in the community about our co-op and the services we provide. While the
last year alone has seen enormous accolades and recognition for the excellent work done at
the co-op, in the coming years, I want to see Black Star become a fixture of the local
community and increased cooperation between other like-minded breweries and other
businesses. My family participated in the Red Line Brewery Tour 2022, which seemed very
successful in bringing greater community awareness and business to each of the participating breweries.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             I would like to see Black Star participate in more events like this as
well as organize them ourselves. Finally, but perhaps most importantly, after having seen
many promising young workers come and go during my time patronizing the co-op, I would
like to assist in taking concrete steps to address our worker retention issues.

3. What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of
My previous work experience dealt heavily with organizing and clerical work, as well as
public-facing service and interactions. At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, I
worked simultaneously for two departments within the Student Affairs Office of the College
Liberal of Arts and Sciences, balancing my time as needed between them as I dealt with
student concerns and organizing event logistics and catering for hundreds of participants. I
also completed university training programs for graphic design software and designed
posters, fliers, advertisements for monitors throughout campus, logos, merchandise, and
other graphic design needs for our departments. Additionally, I completed LGBT Ally
Training and Racial Justice Allies and Advocacy Training programs, volunteered with
student outreach and support groups as well as the Women’s Resource Center on campus to
expand my understanding and appreciation of the diversity of lived experiences within my
In my position within AFSCME Local 3700, I served on our Member Action Team, helping to
sign up new members, give basic training, and organize and inform existing members for
upcoming votes. I also received training as an advocate for worker arbitration and began
training to assume a leadership position before relocating to Texas when my wife accepted a
position at the University of Texas at Austin. Upon moving, I took a position at the university
as a lab supervisor in the Chemistry Department, working with students, organizing lab
equipment, and doing repair, maintenance, and installation work. I continued to do graphic
design work for the department, creating a mascot and logo for a large conference that was
featured in advertising and on merchandise such as swag bags, glasses and mugs, and
I also have over fifteen years of experience in restaurants, bars, cafes, and night clubs in
various positions from server and kitchen staff to security. The diversity of my work history
and training has allowed me to facilitate communication and cooperation between
different—and sometimes adversarial—groups from a place of experience, empathy, and
compassion. These are skills I think could help the Black Star Co-op’s Board of Directors
continue to serve its members, patrons, and workers.

4. Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from
other local brewpubs.
What attracted me to the co-op in the first place was the co-operative dynamic. I think that
working to emphasize and improve upon the strengths of this model and how it offers unique
benefits and opportunities to its workers, member-owners, and other patrons could lead to
changing the way that our local community views not just pubs and breweries, but businesses
in general. Black Star is a pioneer in this area, and I think we can demonstrate to others why                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    our way of doing things raises us above the throng of Austin’s many brew pubs.

5. What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?
I consider several of these principles as integral elements of my own personal philosophy,
but none so much as the 5th Principle: Education, Training, and Information. I became a
parent at a young age, and working long hours to provide for my family initially derailed my
plans for my education. However, I continued to work fulltime and take classes off and on for
years until I finally completed a degree at the age of 36 in Earth and Space Science
Education. In the course of obtaining that degree, a grueling student teaching experience in
a severely underfunded school district both frustrated me and forced me to redouble my
commitment to education as a means of helping to mitigate systemic inequality. It was
impossible to ignore that a component of the difficulty this school district faced was from
some of its own discriminatory teachers, as I learned while being held captive to private
conversations while doing coursework in the teachers’ lounge. I firmly believe that such
narrow-minded beliefs are themselves largely a product of ignorance and lack of exposure to
differing viewpoints and life experiences. This is one of the reasons that I continued my own
education and professional training after completing my undergraduate degree, taking every
opportunity to better serve the young people I interact with in both my work and in my
As such, I’m proud to know that furthering the education and training of our Black Star
community is one of the founding principles of our co-op.