TALES FROM THE COOP foody.org/coop.html
LET'S HAVE FUN AT THE PARK SLOPE FOOD COOP GENERAL MEETING!
A member of the Democracy Initiative Group led by board rebel Stewart -- let's call them the "Stewartistas" -- proposed the first agenda item. The Stewartistas oppose the management of the 5,000-member coop by its employees ("coordinators"), and complain that other members who are the coordinators' friends attend to pad the vote. Coop governance is led by the monthly General Meetings (GMs), open to all coop members. But the meetings usually draw only a couple of dozen people. The Stewartistas had formed a Governance Committee to propose alternatives to the GMs, such as an elected congress.
This night, the Stewartistas proposed that the Governance Committee's founding members be grandfathered, rather than risk an upcoming election to restaff that committee. Most of them, including Stewart, were present to pad the vote. The proposer repeatedly refused to identify just who wanted to be grandfathered. The coordinator camp splashed the proposal with vitriol. One person noted the irony of Democracy Initiative Group members wanting to undemocratically keep their committee positions. But it was a strong debate. Committees are lucky to be staffed by active members with time and energy. Would members nominated and elected from the general population be less motivated? But even though the Stewartistas retreated to a friendly amendment to grandfather only two members (who still refused to identify themselves), it was voted down. Stewart himself abstained.
Then came what most people had come to the General Meeting in the first place: How to combat plastic bags. The Environmental Committee proposed (1) punitive charges on plastic and (2) subsidizing the cost of washable, reusable, muslin bags. Debate followed. The Better Living through Chemicals camp worried about losing membership because of ecofascists who hate not just plastic, but also "dead" meat, salt, sugar, fluorescent lights, and microfiber. The We're Poisoning the World with Every Breath We Take camp said we're poisoning the world with every breath we take. Many statistics were had by all.
When the tide seemed against them, the Environmental Committee abandoned its punitive-surcharge-on-bags proposal in favor of a scorched-earth, but friendly, amendment to ban all plastic bags. By then it was really late, so it got tabled till the next GM.
Back to list of dispatches.