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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
Directors?
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
Directors?
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
community.
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
apparel.
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
community.
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.

March Merch

Is it just me or is it incredibly cold this March? There’s nothing weirder than Texas weather! If you already packed up your winter coats, come by Black Star and pick up a crewneck or hoodie. They also work great for when it’s finally warm and your AC is on blast. If the cold doesn’t bother you, come by and grab some green merch to get ready for St.Paddy’s! Green merch (green t-shirt and koozies) are 25% off for the month of March. With SXSW coming up next week, you’ll want everyone to know you’re an owner of the 2022 BREWERY OF THE YEAR. There’s no better way to let people know you’re a true Austinite. Member-Owner shirts come in sizes XS-XXXL, so come pick one up! If you’re reading this and thinking, “how am I supposed to drink beer out of a t-shirt?” don’t worry, we have insulated growlers ready for you to fill up with your favorite beer!

Brewery of the Year

 

Hello all!
       I am writing this article because it struck me that we haven’t yet given an official update from the brewery since last month’s exciting highlights. On February 19th, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild held their annual meeting and debuted the first ever Texas Craft Brewers Cup, a state wide beer competition. I happened to be out of town that day, so I was super bummed that I couldn’t be in attendance. But I had our Business Team Manager, Jodi, and our Beer Team Cellar Worker, Rachel, attending in my stead. As the day turned into night, I honestly forgot that the competition was happening and assumed the event had wrapped up.
       Then I got the first text. “Recalcitrant Dockhand just won Gold!!!” I immediately felt that surge of emotion I felt in 2015 when we took home the same honors for the same beer at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. About 30 minutes went by, and I was still smiling from our win.
       The second text hit different. “OMG, Moebius just won Gold too!!!” I started yelling and told everyone within earshot. Overjoyed, I got into my car and began driving back to Austin for the night. Half way back into town I got a phone call and found out that Black Star had taken home “Brewery Of The Year” for 0-799bbl of production. I immediately rerouted to Austin Beerworks for some much needed celebratory beers. I could barely contain my excitement. Not just for me, not just for the Beer Team, but Black Star as a whole.
       It’s not often you get the bragging rights of “Brewery of the Year” but we damn sure do in 2022. This win is a distillation of every past brewer and co-worker at Black Star, every Member-Owner that has been involved in our growth as a company, and every person in the community who has supported what we do for 11 years. Community-Owned Beer means Community-Owned Wins. Come bite the medals at your earliest convenience (maybe not literally?).
Cheers!

Worker Spotlight: Abbie Rose <3

 

 

Last week, Board Director James Farris had the opportunity to sit down with Black Star’s Abbie Rose.

1.    What is your position and what do you do at Black Star?
I’m on the kitchen team and I was elected to the role of Worker
Development earlier this fall.

2.    Where are you from?
I grew up in Boerne, Texas in the Hill Country.

3.    How long have you been in Austin, and what is one of your favorite
places or things about living here?
I moved to Austin after college in 2010, I’d always kind of known that’s
where I was headed and I couldn’t wait to get here. The city has changed
so much but my favorite parts, the natural beauty, the greenbelt and an
abundance of good friends, have mostly stayed the same.

4.    What do you enjoy about Black Star Co-op?
I love all of the people involved, from the workers assembly to the
board of directors to our member owners and regulars, Black Star has
this magnetism that draws some really cool and interesting
personalities. I also love the opportunities this co-op creates for
mentorship, community engagement and experimentation with people-centric
alternatives to standard business practices.

5.    What’s one fun or unusual thing about working at Black Star that
is different from other jobs you’ve had?
I’ve never worked in a kitchen with such a healthy culture of respect,
communication and collaboration. It’s the most refreshing thing to not
have to worry about showing up to a toxic environment every day just
because you love working with food, especially as a woman. The industry
is growing up and we’re starting to see demands for better conditions
and safer work environments across the board with restaurants and I’m so
grateful to be where I am and proud of Black Star for being so ahead of
the curve with that kind of thing. Also just the level at which my input
has had an impact literally from day one never ceases to blow me away,
it’s a very good feeling to know that you have a say in matters at every
level of the organization.

6.    What is your favorite house beer?
I don’t always drink beer but when I do, I drink Self Esteem.

7.    What do you do outside of work with your free time? (Or what do
you imagine yourself doing if pandemic restrictions weren’t still in
place?)
These days I’m more of a homebody than ever before and it’s been nice to
lean into that. I spend most evenings with my fiancé at home, working on
projects, cooking big meals or just hanging out, and spending time with
my family and friends. I keep telling myself I’m going to make room for
painting again but we’ll see when that happens.

8.    The pandemic has limited travel for everyone, but what is one of
your favorite places you visited or trips you have taken in the past? Or
where would you like to go, if you could take a trip anywhere?
My fiancé and I have been talking lately about our dream honeymoon and I
spend a lot of time thinking about that. We want to take a few weeks,
buy Eurail tickets and live on and off the train all over Europe. In our
perfect world we hop on the train, cozy up in a sleeping car and spend
the day wherever we happen to be when we wake up in the morning.
Hopefully the world will heal enough in the next year to make something
like that happen, but either way it’s really nice to think about.

9.    Any Last words to the co-op members?
Just thank you, honestly, thank you so much for supporting us and what
we do here. These last few months have been a real rollercoaster dealing
with staffing and infrastructure problems out of anyone’s control on top
of continued strangeness from Covid times and if we were a different
kind of place we may not have weathered the storms. I love this place
and I want to keep working here for a long long time and it really is
the support and patronage from our member owners that are going to make
that possible, so really, I can’t thank you enough <3

Book Your Holiday Event with Black Star!

Let’s face it, we’re all overwhelmed. We’ve been through a lot, and even the haters are starving for a little human hugs and affection. So if you’re overdue for a little get together with family, friends, or co-workers, contact us today to schedule a stress and deposit free holiday event. Our space can accommodate groups of up to 60 in our casual, friendly, and cozy environment. Don’t stress, y’all. Keep it simple and Eat. Drink. Cooperate.

 

Email: info@blackstar.coop

Phone: 512-452-2337

The Fish & Chips Co-NONE-drum

Over the past year at the Co-op I have learned everything there is to know about our fish and chips and the cult-like following that it inspires. The people love it and the people gotta have it and the people feel all of life’s disappointments when the people can’t get it. Because I love fish and chips and I love giving the people what they want, I am here to set the record straight and hopefully put minds at ease.
 Black Drum (Pogonias cromis to be exact) is the flaky white fish we use for this dish. It has a clean, briny flavor and fries well in a wet batter. However, the fish itself is quite sensitive and many variables affect it’s availability and it’s market price. The first factor is how they fish for Black Drum. It must be sport fished (caught with rod & reel), the size must be between 14in-30in, and it is caught using flat-bottom/shallow water boats. They are found in the jetties and shallow channels around the gulf near structures and feed mostly on shrimp, crab, and oysters near the muddy shores of the gulf. Because of this habitat they are sensitive to  temperature changes and increased barometric pressure. This means extreme weather makes them run to deeper water making it more challenging to be caught by the fisherman in the flat-bottom fishing boats they use. During winter storm Uri the Drum populations became almost non-existent. Following that storm was the beginning of hurricane season and tropical depressions that brought weeks of rainy days and then we rolled into the heat wave we are currently experiencing. All of this to paint a picture of the stress that these animals have been under and why it’s making it hard to catch enough to keep up with demand.
 Due to all these factors we, as a leadership team, decided to move to a catfish dish for the summertime. Austin is, after all, an inland city and sourcing from the Gulf is a luxury that only became apparent during the pandemic when the luxury was no longer there. Our catfish is farmed nearby in Texas and is not as affected by the weather in the Gulf of Mexico. Rest assured that every time we place an order with our seafood distributor we inquire about the status of Black Drum and it’s availability and when they believe it should level out. I know how important this dish is to our community here and I want to provide the people with the things that make them happy. As soon as our weather becomes even a little bit predictable and the fisherman get back to fishing we will restore the Fish and Chips to it’s fabled glory and good times will be had by all. I hope this was informational and we appreciate the understanding of all our guests when dining with us at Black Star.
Salud.

Members Assembly and Thirsty Thursday

It has been quite the 18 months hasn’t it my friends! But this month as
the Austin sun returns to bake our fair city, we have an opportunity to
celebrate all that we have: our resilience, our humanity, our co-op, our
cold beer and our member owners!

In recognition of all that we have endured, BSCO would like to thank and
recognize all the members who have persevered with us in recent times
with a celebratory event, happy hour and social. Let’s get together,
review the state of the business, pull some (free for members) pitchers
from behind the bar, snack on some chips, and feel just a little bit of
that stress float away.

You are invited at 6pm on Thursday July 1st to join us at BSCO to meet
with your fellow member/owners as well as the worker assembly and board
members. We shall review the annual report, conduct feedback activities
relevant to the operation of your co-op, hear the vision the kitchen,
beer and business teams have for the coming year, and drink a beer or
two. Or three (responsibly).

We recognize that as our membership grows, we should not limit this
event to only those within reach of the pub. We alas, cannot post you a
beer, but I shall set up a zoom link so that you can chat questions and
have your say with regards to the operation of your co-op. Please email
me at graham.green@blackstar.coop for login information with subject
line “Thirsty Thursday”.

Many thanks and all the best. See you on July 1st @ 6PM.

Onward & Upwards: A Reflection

This. Has. Been. A. Year.

Who would have thought right at the beginning of January 2020 that in the year to come we’d face a
global pandemic, a crazy presidential election, the loss of Alex Trebek, and the loss of Sean Connery – all
in the same year. I, like many of you, am looking forward to putting 2020 in the rearview mirror. Regardless, we enter that time of year where reflection, compassion, and the thirst for progress ushers
us into 2021. I reflect on what’s important, significant, and what brings me happiness: family, friends,
friendly faces at Black Star Co-Op, and a freshly poured pint of Vulcan on the patio.
Due to the heroic efforts of the Workers’ Assembly, and through the dedication of our amazing
Member-Owners, Black Star Co-Op not only celebrated a ten-year anniversary this year, but the pub
remains open, operational, and ready to offer up inspired craft beer with a side of amazing food.
We are all fortunate to have Black Star in our lives – to support an institution that celebrates the worker,
is democratically controlled, provides meaningful and exceptional services, while also building a true
sense of Gemütlichkeit.
So take a moment to reflect on the year you’ve had, the year we’ve all had. And come on down to the
Co-op for a cold beer and some good food. Celebrate the inevitable end of 2020, and more importantly,
celebrate the year to come. I propose a toast to honor Black Star, the Workers’ Assembly, and the
Member-Owners. Together, we will prevail.
I look forward to seeing you at the pub.
Prost!

Fall Members’ Assembly Meeting

Come one, come all, join us this Fall for a virtual Member-Owners meeting!  

During these crazy, pandemic times, we are moving the Member-Owners meeting to an online platform.  We encourage all M/Os to join us this Sunday, November 15th at 10am; please RSVP here.

We’ll have an action-packed agenda to cover with everyone.  Well, maybe not quite as exciting as JCVD’s latest flick, but still chock-full of data, anecdotes, the occasional laugh, and fun surprises.

After the virtual meeting, plan to head to the pub for a socially distant, outdoor pint with members from the Board of Directors, as well as with our esteemed members of the Workers’ Assembly. 

In the meantime, stay safe, healthy, and drink good beer. 

Cheers to 10 Years!

Hey folks! As I’m sure everyone would agree, 2020 has been one hell of a ride. Over the last 5 months, running Black Star Co-op has been a challenge to say the least, but the year had originally promised to be such a banger! January started us off when our good friend Ted Cheavens finished a beautiful mural on the exterior of our building. We placed an order for a brand new set of amazing wooden table tops in February to help brighten up the space. The Craft Brewers Conference was slated to come to San Antonio in April which would have brought in brewers/friends from all across the world to experience our awesome beer scene in Texas! And then, our 10 Year Anniversary Party. This was huge. Black Star Co-op has served our community, member-owners and workers for an entire decade. The workers put in a ton of effort to plan this event, making sure it would be as special as it should be for such a historic landmark. Unfortunately, you know how the story actually played out, and that didn’t sit too well with us. So (with social distancing practices in mind) next Saturday, August 15th, we will be releasing several beers: A special bottle release of Moebius (bourbon barrel aged stout), Black Is Beautiful, our collaboration beer with Weathered Souls in San Antonio, Texas, and a couple of special kegs we’ve been holding onto. Then on Sunday August 16th at 2PM, we will be hosting a virtual Cheers to 10 Years! via Facebook live. We ask that you swing by, grab some bottles/crowlers/growlers on Saturday, then join us on Sunday to celebrate Black Star’s 10 decade long legacy of slinging great food and beer in Austin, Texas. Thank you for all of your support over the years, it is truly a privilege to serve such a rad community of people.