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Pasted below is a draft of the statement that the JPNC and Ad Hoc committee intend to deliver at the Whole Foods Community Forum on June 2nd.  As in previous statements made by the JPNC - JP for All believes that this statement does not accurately reflect the majority opinion in JP and that the opening and closing show a complete and utter disregard for trying to engage Whole Foods in a civil manner. If you agree please email the JPNC at Info.JPNC@gmail.com to let them know that this statement is not acceptable and cc info@jpforall.org.  

 

The online version can be found at:

 

http://groups.google.com/group/jpnc-adhoc-wholefoods/browse_thread/...

 

Potential Statement by JPNC/Ad Hoc Representative at June 2 Whole Foods Meeting

 

On behalf of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, I’d like to thank Whole Foods for inviting the community to this presentation.  Whether people are glad about the prospect of Whole Foods coming to our community or opposed to it, I think everyone can agree that it is remarkable (particularly in JP) that in the four months since we first learned about the lease between the Knapp Family and Whole Foods, this is the first community meeting at which representatives of Whole Foods have actually been present.  So today’s presentation is an important beginning.  But it is really just that – the beginning of a process that we as a community and we as a Neighborhood Council have been talking about and thinking about and considering and arguing over and holding meetings about since January. 

After some initial open forums on the topic, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council formed in March an Ad Hoc Committee with the sole objective of looking closely at the prospect of a Whole Foods in Jamaica Plain and particularly with trying to address the concerns expressed by both pro- and anti-Whole Foods members of the community around Local and Livable Employment, Affordable Housing, traffic and parking, promoting and protecting locally-owned businesses, and access particularly by lower-income residents to affordable and healthy food.  The Committee has been looking hard at these issues – both members of the Neighborhood Council and members of the community, many of whom could not be further apart in their initial reaction to the prospect of Whole Foods coming to Hyde Square.  In the next two weeks, the Ad Hoc Committee expects to submit its report to the Neighborhood Council, and the Council will then begin planning the next steps in this process.   I am here to give the message as clearly as I can that we as a community and as a Neighborhood Council want and expect Whole Foods to be a participant in that process.  We expect Whole Foods to demonstrate its commitment to becoming a part of this community by being a friend to this community now – sitting down with representatives of the Neighborhood Council, participating in open meetings in the coming weeks and months, taking seriously the community’s concerns as well as their hopes for what a specifically-JP Whole Foods might look like and how your company and this community, working together, could address the negative impacts and enhance the community benefits of a Whole Foods in Hyde Square. 

This is not the neighborhood’s meeting, obviously – no JP group would pick First Thursday of all nights for a meeting like this – but we in the Neighborhood Council look forward to meeting with you again and talking with you soon about how we work together to move the process forward.  My name is ________________, Andrea Howley is our chair, and Steve Laferriere is the chair of our Ad Hoc Committee on this matter – please feel free to reach out to any one of us.   

 

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It embarrasses me that anyone might think that this 'statement' is representative of me, as a resident of Hyde Square.  There is so much good work being done in our neighborhood and so much more that needs to be done, that it makes me sad to think of the energy and effort squandered on this.

Hi Erin - I firmly believe that these conversations should happen.  In fact I would argue that they should happen with each new business - small or large, independently owned or corporations.  However they do not.  There are standards being applied singularly to this company and in many cases only because people do not like them.  My issue with the statement is not the point that everyone should sit around the table and work things out, but it is the tone with which they are demanding. To date Whole Foods has not made a single statement or done anything to make people feel as if we need to be making demands.  In fact, there is barely any mention of the over $60K that has been contributed to the area by Whole Foods already, their decision to keep the clock and murals, or the hiring of 20 out of 28 Hi-Lo employees that have sought jobs with the company.  And the JPNC and Ad Hoc report drafts do not list a single benefit that Whole Foods will bring to the community.  

 

It is quite possible to have a civil conversation with Whole Foods and make our case for the things our community would like to see from them.  But, if all we do is continue to have conversations, with each other or with businesses that wish to operate here, from a place of distrust then it becomes increasingly difficult to find common ground.  My hope is not that Whole Foods arrives here without concessions, but that the JPNC rethinks its lopsided approach in which they are only able to look at the negatives and only deliver them with a tone that sets the stage for another screaming match on June 2nd.  

When did the JPNC authorize the Ad Hoc Committee to speak officially to Whole Foods on behalf of our community? 

As far as I know, the Council charged the Committee with developing a report to the Council about Whole Foods' potential impact on JP and possible alternatives for the building.  Period.  As many commenters have pointed out since the Ad Hoc Committee was formed, it is not representative of Jamaica Plain or Hyde Square (for example, a new categgory for Hyde Square "businesses" was created at one meeting for the sole purpose of allowing Ben Mauer, who is a Whose Foods/Whose Community leader and lives in Roxbury, to serve on the Committee.  No notice was given to ANY real Hyde Square business owner that such a category existed, so none had an opportunity to join the Committee).

I urge the JPNC to reject this ultimatum and to direct the Ad Hoc Committee to complete its authorized work.  If we want Whole Foods to talk with us and work with us, we need to show that we are willing to talk with them and work with them as well.  It's time for the JPNC to lead, not just follow the agenda of a small group of people with an axe to grind.

Erin, as a home owner in the Hyde Square neighborhood I fully concur with your points. The days giant corporations could enter neighborhoods and with their disproportionate financial clout change the lives of the residents of that neighborhood, without being held accountable to that community, must come to an end. I to am proud of JPNC and the other neighborhood organizations.

As a homeowner in Hyde Square, I am very much looking forward to the changes Whole Foods will bring to JP:  75-100 well-paying jobs, with good benefits like health insurance, stock ownership, and a chance to move up in the company.  A grocery store that will bring more options and choices to the neighborhood.  A business with a track record of success that is rennovating a dilapidated building and will turn a neglected corner of Hyde Square into a lively and thriving retail district.  More customers for the existing Hyde Square businesses and more reasons for local business owners and entrepreneurs to take the risk of locating in Hyde Square. Support for community organizations and causes, local suppliers, green ways of doing business.

Imagine we were starting from scratch, with nothing on the table but the news that Hi Lo was closing,  If we were looking for a new grocery store to take over the old Hi Lo space, one that shared JP's values and way of doing business, we couldn't do much better than Whole Foods.  Thousands of JP residents already shop at Whole Foods.  JP will not change simply because we can now walk to the store rather than drive.  JP will continue to change, just as it always has, because it is part of a larger economy and world that are also constantly changing. 

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