Filed under: -of harrisonburg, -of jhumphrey, -of localism, -of townie-to-townie
we were very pleased to discover that our last Friendly City Food Co-Op rant didn’t finally do us in.
in fact, deb rhizal, the communications/organizer/outreach/etc. person for FCFC, wrote us a very well-humored and informative response to our most recent call for action.
(that pushy friend of mine refused to write a response – claiming that he needed to study for his GREs – but he did make sure to forward our post directly into the waiting arms of deb.)
here it is. (we thought it deserved a little more press than it would get as a hidden comment…)
Hello Blogger and others!
I am your woman! My name is Deb Rhizal and I’m the outreach coordinator for FCFC. I took this job in June and in the very first week I created a personal mission statement for myself and my new job. Written at the top of every newsletter it reads: “The member-owners of FCFC are valued, informed and empowered to work as a team to make the store a reality.” Information is power folks, and I’m here to share it! Unfortunately, because I know it has great potential, I am pretty un-savoy when it comes to on-line social networking and until 5 minutes ago I had never heard of “The State.” I’m making progress every day learning more: as a result you can now check out FCFC’s facebook page and our facebook group and we have a tweet account and a new on-line social networking volunteer who began working to share info about FCFC just last week. We’re getting there! This morning I had a message in my inbox from an FCFC owner-member with a link to this message,
which is how I found it. Thank you! Both to that member, and to the original poster of this discussion.
I can say wholeheartedly that I am totally in agreement with you. Co-ops are owned by the community and transparency and organization is the gut of what makes this alternative business model worth while. Access to information, and the ability to have a say in process, are tools that give us consumers a chance to make a real stand for what we will and will not consume – the whole purpose of a consumer’s coop!
I have been doing my best to put very clear detailed information out there in every newsletter I’ve written and in all of my communications with both potential and current members. I invite you to read them, and other updates at our web site at http://www.friendlycityfoodcoop.com. I’ve also written again and again that I am available for any questions! My number is 746-6032 for anyone who wants to call.
I know you are more interested in NEWS then a discourse on how we’re trying: So here are a few pertinent updates:
The preferred future home of FCFC is in downtown Harrisonburg in a building that is currently empty. If you look around at the vacant buildings and consider parking and viability and good access (limited one way streets etc), you’ll probably pick it out pretty fast. So why can’t I just put the address right here in this post? Because we don’t have a signed lease. We are still negotiating for a better price per square foot and for placement within the building (we aren’t using the whole available space), and we still need a bank committment before we can sign. If our site is public then we have an immense amount of pressure to make it work at that site. That pressure decreases our negotiating power and also our ability to go to site B if we don’t reach terms that work for us. Plus, that site won’t be available forever, and without a bank committment in place we can’t assume it will wait for us. If you think we’ve blown a lot of trust and morale already, imagine the blow
a mistaken announcement about the site would cause! Trust me – we really want a major increase in owner-members because without it we won’t have a store…and we think that announcing a site is our #1 best way of recruiting new people. We won’t be sitting on that information the minute it’s official! And, all members are welcome to serve on the site committee– a sure way to know all the ins and outs. Maybe this is a good time to remind folks that ALL board meetings are open, every new member was given the dates and location (first Thursday of each month, Above Cally’s, 7:30)and that the minutes are available in the office or by request through email.
I will be the first to join the chorus of wanting to know WHEN the store will open. Fact is, it’s out of our hands. The board has tried again and again to make their absolute best projections— but they’ve been wrong and we could be again. No one would withhold that crucial piece of info if we had it. Here are the factors:
Past – the main reason past predictions didn’t come about is the economic downturn and the change in lending.
Future – The store will be open within a year of securing funding and the site— hopefully less, but you know how construction can go and we are renovating an existing downtown site. SO – WHEN will we secure funding? That’s what the current BIG PUSH is all about. We’re trying to do so before fall passes. It’s ambitious, but if everyone pitches in it could happen. Here are the steps. A lot of them need to happen simultaneously, so there isn’t really an order and we’re literally working on ALL of them right now.
1. Get a loan committment from a bank or credit union stating that they will give the loan IF we meet XYZ contingencies. Parkview Credit Union is currently the most likely to do this, but we’ll talk to any institution interested. In the mean time, call Parkview and let them know you really want them to offer this loan.
2. Get a USDA loan guarantee so that Parkview, or another institution, can make this loan.
3. Increase membership to 800-1000 people so that we have more money from equity shares ($200.00 each) and so the goals of the member loan campaign can be spread over more people.
4. Raise $600,000 in member loans.
5. Be awarded a few major grants.
6. Find additional private lenders.
7. Negotiate a workable price on a site.
8. Sign a lease
And who is this “we?” The 7 current board members are just working as much as possible without losing sanity on all of this. An additional core of about 5 long-term committed volunteers are serving on various committees. 17 new volunteers have joined the forces in the last 2 weeks. There are various advisers helping (paid and volunteer), bankers are working, a realtor is working, a lot of members keep spreading the word, and I spend 30 paid hours a week recruiting and organizing those volunteers, working on publicity, reaching out to new members, sharing information, printing and mailing stuff and so on. It’s remarkable and an honor to be part of. It’s also painfully slow and difficult and more people are really needed.
So – WHEN? – You tell me! When the community of Harrisonburg kicks up 800-1000 members and $600,000 dollars it will be rolling! Once it’s rolling we’ll push architects and project managers for some hard-core dates and spread the news. The BEST-CASE scenario is completing the steps above by the end of November and opening a store this time next year. Can we do it? Absolutely! But not alone.
The short on this long story is that before the economic downturn we expected a bank or credit union to fund most of the project. The new reality is that they will fund about 30% of it. That leaves it up to us, the owners, working through the board and volunteers, to raise the rest in owner equity (loans and shares), and grants or private loans. BIG JOB. Thus the member loan campaign which kicked off last Friday. Yesterday was the first day of follow-up calls. $8,000.00 was pledged last night, so we’re up to $93,000. Watch the carrot grow on our web site.
And for everyone out there who is great with web sites and finds ours a bit behind the times, here’s more information that may help bring some understanding to the web site’s shortcomings. When it was designed we were given access to it through a particular program. This program is costly to set up per individual and is very slow and cumbersome to use. The former outreach coordinator did the updates regardless of their less-then-convenient nature, but when I took the job multiple people tried to get the program installed on my computer and were not able to. Thus while “former man (Adam)” was out of town this summer we basically couldn’t update the web site. He’s now back in town and has begun to do regular updates again. A technology task force is also trying to transition us to a totally NEW and IMPROVED system (want to help – volunteer!). Also, we’re limited to 25K images, so the carrot project is a bit of a nightmare. The joys of volunteer efforts! They aren’t
always the smoothest as everyone squeezes time into the cracks between work and family life… but they are a triumph of the greatest of human spirits as so many put their personal resources towards something they want for themselves and their community.
I apologize to anyone who has felt a snotty edge. I could offer a long list of excuses regarding the nature and complexity of educating lots of people on alternative business models and food issues… but rather I will just personally say that working for the board of the FCFC is a joy: They are compassionate, people-centered, and affirmative. I personally stand in awe of how they have given of themselves to coordinate this effort that each and every owner-member is bringing to Harrisonburg.
Please circulate this information far and wide, call me with questions or host a home or office party and invite me to come for a Q&A! I love to talk and I’m happy to share in great detail about FCFC, both its process and purpose.
Thank you –
Deb Rhizal, Outreach Coordinator FCFC
so – my question for you all is: what else do you want to know?
let us know your ideas…
because, really, we DO like co-ops…
one can’t go wrong with cinnamon rolls in the fall.
even if the house baker can’t get it together in time for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even dinner.
cinnamon rolls make excellent midnight snacks.
first, the dough bowl:
and the properly buttered pans. (with a little help from small hands):
and the pecan chop:
next, the knead:
and the pre-baked product:
and i didn’t even have time for another photo before this happened:
i used an excellent, simple, recipe from molly wizenberg of orangette.
it was originally in bon appetit.
you can also find it here.
check this out.
although we have a lot of hburg restaurant-related news and reviews coming up, most of the time, most of us are eating at home. and this little site makes that into an event in and of itself.
i am entranced by these portraits. sort of because they are so similar.
that time-consuming polish mixed with urban grunge.
kind of like a 1950’s gas station attendant going to a 1993 prom.
take this guy for example:
or this shop girl:
or her: (red lipstick saves all)
and him. just smashing:
weird thing is. people really dress like this in portland. like lots of people. it’s crazy creativity thrift style.
a little uber-cool, yes. but entertaining, no?
Filed under: -of eats, -of green, -of harrisonburg, -of jhumphrey, -of localism, -of politik, -of townie-to-townie
i got a text on thursday night.
it read, “remind me why i am out supporting my local food co-op tonight and you all aren’t even members?!”
i’m tired of hearing folks report getting the cold shoulder from Friendly City Food Co-Op insiders.
i’ve heard several stories recently wherein concerned, interested, or simply conversation-making co-op members were informed by snotty co-op big whigs that their questions could not be answered in the interest of secrecy and security.
questions about the mystery location of said co-op.
questions about the mystery opening date of said co-op.
questions about the mystery inner workings of said co-op.
come on, people.
there are ways to keep information private without being holier-than-thou secret club members.
it’s a co-op, damn it.
i personally feel that you’re really burning some important transparency bridges.
i understand if a business deal is not yet complete, you might not feel you can go round town running your mouth about it.
but why not just say as much? we’d understand.
but don’t insinuate that we’re not cool enough to know.
i’m not a member and have been pending my membership until i’m convinced by someone that FCFC has potential. i’m further from sold than ever before. why give my money to a co-op production just to be shut out of the process?
don’t you all have someone who is supposed to be public relations-oriented? advertising? community building?
i’ve written many annoying rants on this blog trying to get someone’s attention.
(trying to get someone to write me back and prove me wrong.)
maybe that’s too adversarial of an approach for you. but, honestly, to an outsider – a potential member, it doesn’t look like things are going so well. until a couple of days ago, your website, STILL said that a summer 2009 opening date was expected. you have 580 member households, but need 1000. you have raised $85,000, but need $600,000.
okay, that was a little harsh. a lot of hard work has gone into getting 580 households signed up and $85,000 raised. but, it really seems like you needs some new ideas. and most of all, you need a better attitude when talking with the community.
it’s true. i didn’t go to the meeting. that was a little lame, i admit. but, i have talked to many who were there and people are still a little confused. everything is a little ambiguous.
maybe it’s time to spice it up. try something new. ride the wave of controversy. turn it into something positive and energy-inducing.
we have over 200 people reading this blog a day.
you have the chance to write in and make me look like just a girl with a bad attitude. convince me to join. convince me that what you are doing is going to work.
write to me and give me the scoop. this isn’t actually all about me. (believe it or not.) it’s about reaching a whole lot of people who might be unimpressed with your old methods of potluck and music at the mediation center. make our readers (many of whom are already members), feel involved.
here are some ideas:
(you see – we’re with you, not against you. because we like co-ops.)
we’d love to host quarterly question/answer sessions right here on the state.
what about a rock lotto-style concert series FCFC benefit?
maybe a family supper-style gourmet local-foods event. i bet some local chefs would participate. and farmer’s would donate the goods.
what about low-income folks? do you have any sliding-scale system in place that might encourage the active involvement of those who want to show you (and the bank) that they like you but can’t dish out $200? this might get you a few hundred more member households in a hurry. there are a lot of students and poor-ish families out there that probably would support you if it didn’t seem so financially daunting.
start an interactive blog. even the farmer’s market has one.
keep up the facebook page. gets some more fans already.
and tweet more. your last tweet was in may. come on, it’s cute, simple, short, and sweet.
so, here’s your chance. respond. let us help you. a little controversy sometimes inspires the best conversation and action. give us a better attitude. that’s my real gripe. show us that you’re nice, you know what you’re talking about, and that you encourage questions, participation, and discussion.
“The evils of controversy are transitory while its benefits are permanent” – Robert Hall
(because i want to give you my $200.)
p.s. i’ve asked my kind friend who sent that lovely text to write a rebuttal to this post. we’ll see what he has to say…
A Dispatch from the Odyssey Trail Running Rampage, Where the Simple Elegance of Competitive Running Lies Under Corporate Siege.
The major reason I decided to make the Odyssey trail marathon in Douthat State Park my first 26.2 mile race was that I thought it would be more relaxed than the typical frenzied shuffle along the downtown strip of some middling-to-major American metropolis. The thought of racing on wooded mountain trails appealed to me.
I had escapist motives.
But things turned out differently. True, I got to spend a couple hours tramping through the forest, and it was beautiful, but I found no respite from The Busy Life. I walked straight into its maw. And so, I am compelled to write a eulogy for a racing experience that I never knew, one unstained by commercialism and corporate sponsorship. That stuff has its place in sport – I’ve paid hideous sums to see Man U. matches – but I’d dared to hope some things were still sacred. Do I sound like an obnoxious purist? Every serious runner is, on some level.
People like me are known to toss around platitudes about the purity of our sport – simple, beautiful, the most elegant expression of athletic competition, devoid of luck, of capricious umpiring or ball-hogging teammates, shot clocks, free agency, shin guards, ERAs, etc. Just your own two legs, and how quickly they can carry you from here to there. Cross-country teams pride themselves in slogans like: “We do for practice what your team does for punishment,” and this idea of running-as-purity exists because it is, at some fundamental level, true. Which is precisely why the materialistic cancer so evident at the Odyssey trail marathon was so disturbing.
The symptoms were apparent from the outset, oozing from the literature distributed at the pre-race meeting the night before the race.
In one slim issue of Trail Runner magazine,
(whose very existence depends on – and demands – a critical mass of advertisers hawking numerous goods and products to a readership that, theoretically, should need very few) are several ads for GORE-TEX footwear (“Runners need shoes that can help allow the body to maintain thermophysiological balance across a range of conditions”),
followed by an ad for “reseach-proven” and “dope-free” Wicked Fast nutritional supplements.
Moeben took out a full page to plug its UV-Protected Arm Sleeves (made from “eco-friendly bamboo and hemp fabrics”),
which are apparently crucial, because a runner’s arms must be protected from ultra-violet threats.
Amphipod settled for a one-third page pitch for its hydration products.
(Let me pause here to preempt the obvious counterargument to my rant – that runners DO need to be hydrated and they DO need, sometimes, to protect themselves from UV rays – with an analogy: human beings need shelter, but they do not need
subprime mortgages on beach homes, and they most certainly do not need subprime mortgages on LEED-certified beach homes that perpetuate the fallacy that they’ve done Mother Earth a good turn by buying a greenwashed second home).
It’s all kind of sickening, really. Hammer Nutrition,
coincidentally a major race sponsor, took the cake, though, with a clever, pseudo-journalistic bit of advertising copy entitled “The Balanced Diet Myth – Shattered”:
Did you know that there has never been a single clinical study that documents what comprises a balanced diet, nor one that has demonstrated one’s ability to meet basic nutrient requirements through whole foods alone? In fact new studies show that food alone does not supply all of the micronutrients we need to prevent deficiency, let alone achieve optimal health (emphasis mine; hysterical emphasis also mine) … Luckily, Hammer Nutrition can provide you with all of the supplements you need to reach your performance and health goals!
This one is pernicious on several levels. Man shall not live by bread alone, sayeth the Hammer Nutrition. And more, the wages of eating food is death, but the gift of Hammer Nutrition is eternal micronutritional salvation, whosoever believeth in d-alpha Tocopherol Succinate, calcium chelate krebs cycle intermediates and a “proprietary blend of Coenzyme Q10, Idebenone, Alpha-ketogluterate and Bioperine.” Amen.
The night before the race, my dad told me about the first time he’d run a marathon, in 1984. He drank only plain water. He ate only bananas. That fool’s lucky he’s alive, let alone lucky that he hasn’t developed cancer of his unprotected arms or damned his feet to thermophysiological chaos.
The implicit message (or, lie) in all of this is one of self-improvement through purchase of various upgrades. You could be the epitome of running mediocrity, but a pair of Julbo shades
(featuring “Grip Tech temples,” “elastomer shock absorbers” and “adjustable natural airflow”) will make you fast, we are led to believe. Some American Podiatric Medical Association-approved performance toesocks, “made from recycled resources” by injinji will propel you to glories greater yet. (Vaguely tribal/indigenous-sounding corporate names like this are widespread in the running gimmicks industry – a loathsome attempt to deceive us into thinking that purchasing a set of injinji performance toesocks will help restore us to some imagined pre-Industrial eco-communal-athletic utopia).
I’m afraid all this has sounded kind of bitter, so I must say that the race itself was wonderful until the vicinity of mile 22, when my hamstrings started to get cranky and my calves erupted in outright rebellion. Minor hills turned into mountains, and a sort of hysteria crowded rational thinking out my mind. Just a few more miles, I tried to tell myself. A FEW MORE MILES??? the hysteria screamed back. It felt like my brain was throwing a temper tantrum. So I stumbled and hobbled and gimped my way to the finish – my pace having dropped to something like a brisk walk – where I collapsed in the grass and didn’t move for nearly an hour.
Hammer Nutrition purports to have just the product I needed – Recoverite – to rejoin the conscious, chattering world, and, having competed in the Odyssey Trail Running Rampage, I am now eligible for a 15 percent discount on my first purchase. I got a nifty little racing hat as a finishing prize, too, plus some sort of space-age sweat-wicking shirt, plus a 26-serving bottle of dark, viscous Hammer Gel – Hammer Nutrition’s flagship product, regarded as manna by a large segment of the endurance competition community – plus a little ergonomic squeeze bottle that fits snugly in either hand, to fill with a few of those 26 servings (for best results, I’d probably need to invest in one of those toolbelt/fannypack hybrids worn by numerous competitors, with a little plastic ergonomic squeeze bottle holder to keep my hands free).
The in-crowd word for this collection of free race booty is “schwag.” To me, though, it all feels more like a collection of battle scars, the price I had to pay for tangling with the lamentably not-so-simple world of trail racing.
Filed under: - of shameless self-promo, -of harrisonburg, -of jhumphrey, -of localism, -of sound, -of sport
a little local partnership.
look for this holy skate combo again oct. 2 at the artful dodger.