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  • Park Slope Food Coop holds vote aimed at staunching boycott of Sodastream
    • @Carol Lipton.

      What struck me about your posts was how you come across as someone who wasn't even at the General Meeting, and if you were, don't understand the basic procedure of one.

      "The chair at first agreed that Jesse’s proposal constituted a change to the Bylaws,"

      That is absolutely not the case. The Chairwoman agreed several times AT FIRST that it was a change to the Rules of the Meeting. She changed her mind at one point to say then it was a change to the ByLaws. Then, after consulting with the rest of the Chair Committee and the Board of Directors, reversed her decision again. That is how it happened, like it or not.

      "She then reversed her opinion after Joe Holtz got to speak."

      This is true only in the sense that Joe Holtz and everyone else in the Board and the Chair Committee spoke with her. (See above)

      "At no time did the Coop solicit legal opinion letters from its attorneys or other independent specialists in non-profit law."

      Because the PSFC didn't need to.

      "We were limited to 2 minutes. Anti-BDS people went over 2 min., but when a pro BDS speaker did this, the microphone was turned off on her. Then the Chair cut down the speaking time for people to 1 min. 30 seconds."

      Anyone who goes over two minutes is given a warning. When they keep rambling, their mic is cut off. That's been the case, finally, for a few meetings. And why? Enough people wrote to the Gazette begging the Chair Committee to do exactly that. Why? Because people kept pushing past their limit at the mic to the point of slowing the whole meeting down and the Chair Committee was too polite to put an end to it. Until now.

      "Jesse Rosenfeld had about 8 minutes to speak,"

      The way you phrase this is as if he was given some kind of special favor. Have you forgotten 8 minutes WAS FOR HIS PRESENTATION??? THAT EVERYONE WHO PRESENTS GETS AT LEAST 10 MINUTES??? The context you use is absolutely manipulative because it's weak on that central fact.

      "I was thinking about just this all week- how can I in good conscience continue to be part of an organization of deluded, narcissistic yuppies, who wave the banner of human rights, egalitarianism and democracy while supporting a horrendously brutal occupation that saturation-bombed Gaza with more ordnance than was dropped on Hiroshima and slaughtered 2300 people ostensibly as vengeance over the deaths of 3 Israeli teenagers."

      The only reason you think such people support occupation is because they don't fight it the way you want them to. That is more deluded and narcissistic than anyone you accuse. At least Rosenfeld brought Palestinian olive oil to PSFC. He supported Palestinian businesses. He encouraged their dignity while putting some money in their pockets. What have you ever done for a Palestinian to ease his suffering? Post gory pictures on the internet that haven't improved the plight of Palestinians since 1947?

      Re: your plight with the Gazette and your letter....

      Boo-hoo. Get in line. Everyone hates the Gazette. Support the upcoming proposal to make it an elected workslot instead of an appointed one, and then run for the position. Stop whining.

      "What struck me about Jesse’s presentation the most was its tautological reasoning, that because Coop members who attend GMs, most of whom are white, many of whom are Jewish, are apparently pissed off at those who call for a consistent stand on human and democratic rights that would mandate a vote for BDS, that’s grounds for making it harder to pass a boycott vote." Etc, etc.

      What strikes me about your thinking is that you maintain PSFC is some kind of social justice organization that supports itself by selling food. Sorry, it's a business first, with legal requirements to keep operating. Without the business, there's nothing to boycott. If your moral core is so shaken by PSFC, please feel free to leave. I'll hold the door for you.

      And that you're willing to sue the Coop (for what damages exactly?) only proves Rosenfeld's point: that you and BDS are simply divisive and don't care about the place.

    • Why cant they just add a little checkbox to a mailing that is already going out to all the members? Because that needs to be voted on first. See? It's a matter of democracy in action. And we had such a vote at Brooklyn Tech years ago. And BDS lost it because people were more interested in Coop unity than any boycott.

      We're good people at PSFC, Annie. And we take real offense at being called racists and Nazis because we don't agree with a handful of BDS supporters who will say anything to gain sympathy. Meanwhile, they cannot prove how a boycott of Israel will in any way help the business or even help a single Palestinian.

      You want to know who helps Palestinians at the Coop? Jesse Rosenfeld does! He worked like hell to bring a new brand of Palestinian olive oil to our shelves. And who has done the most bitching about it? So-called supporters of Palestinian liberation. He didn't have to do it,especially since he is staunchly anti-boycott of Israel. But he did in the name of Coop unity, and to show that there are more than two ways of looking at the I/P conflict, to show that you don't have to be anti-israel to be proPalestinian. And he got zero thanks for it.

    • And this was the winning speech. The proposal to change the Rules of the General Meeting, as so noted by the Chair Committee in an open vote, was approved at 294-YES, and 192-NO.


      My name is Jesse Rosenfeld. Secretary of the Coop and Member of the Board of Directors.

      I joined the Coop because I liked the word. Cooperative. It just rang true with me. I liked the idea of pitching in while meeting my neighbors. We all hope for an end one day to long lines and the incomprehensible two-step checkout process. Still most people say, “I love the coop. I love it here.” I shop several times a week, I’ve become a pretty good cook and I’ve made friends with people I wouldn’t normally meet discussing subjects I wouldn’t normally encounter. Everyday I see someone on the street from the PSFC so the community I find here is not an abstract. People, I am making an effort tonight because we all love this place. We all work together and we want to see it thrive.

      Which brings us to tonight’s proposal. Our boycott policy isn’t about what we boycott anymore. It’s about how we’ll use it going forward to demonstrate unmistakable cooperation. Right now, the guidelines are too vague, as in: not actually spelled out in a hard number. It’s only implied, and until now unquestioned, that enacting a boycott needs 51% of all the votes to pass. This has bred an unintentional split-down-the-middle mindset when discussing contentious boycotts. Which is not good for the Coop. Going forward we want unity in addressing injustice, we want harmonious General Meetings surrounding boycotts, and to heal feelings of persecution in the hearts of our members. We want to drain the strength from poison-pen dueling so that Gazette editors will be released from working far in excess of their standard 2 and ¾ hour shifts. We want to give staff and the General Coordinators breathing room again to focus on operational improvements instead of dealing with the ramifications of boycott discussions and proposals. We musn’t let this vague, unwritten policy continue to overshadow the cooperative principles that are central to our operations.

      For example:

      ONE: Our Mission Statement says: as members, we contribute our labor: working together builds trust through cooperation and teamwork…We are committed to diversity and equality. We oppose discrimination in any form. We strive to make the Coop welcoming and accessible to all and to respect the opinions, needs and concerns of every member.

      TWO: The First International Principle of Cooperation reads: Cooperatives are voluntary organizations open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibility of membership without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.

      What all this means is that no political litmus test should exist in any cooperative other than whether they are cooperating by fulfilling membership responsibilities. But this raises a few sticky questions: How can we fulfill the part of our mission where we welcome all of our members regardless of political opinion? How can we maintain diversity? And how has the Coop taken positions on boycotts without alienating the members who disagree with the boycott? The answer is that all of our present boycotts have been uncontroversial. Chilean Grapes, Coca-Cola, Nestle, all have passed with an overwhelming majority, and no one was offended or made to feel discriminated against along the way. 11 out of 13 boycotts in the last 25 years have been at 90% and the other two were at 80%. We found the sweet spot. 80 and 90 percent! That shows solidarity, not a virtual 50-50 split. Tonight, we can join together and fix this oversight in our Boycott Policy.

      Codifying the number at 75% to pass the vote, up from the unwritten 51%, further girds our foundation of cooperation. 51% is not solidarity! 75% is, or at least a lot closer to true solidarity. Our organization is open to anyone regardless of their political affiliations, but 51% leaves it wide open to anyone who will say anything to get the ball over the 50-yard line. To avoid that going forward we must strengthen the most precious bond we have: Trust. A cooperative such as ours requires almost blind trust in each other because we accept anyone willing to pull their own weight. With 75% we embrace alternative viewpoints and we encourage movement towards cooperation across political lines. It breaks my heart to witness the divisiveness surrounding boycotts month after month, year after year, and it should stop now.

      With all of our boycotts passing so far at 80 or 90 percent, and the unwritten boycott policy at present at 51%, a good compromise is 75%. The Coop presents many vibrant platforms for new ideas. All that’s expected in return is overwhelming agreement for a boycott. It should take a quite a lot of effort to speak in everyone’s name. It should be as close to mathematical everyone as possible because solidarity demands real understanding of what membership thinks . 1% past 50 doesn’t do that. 75% is both majority rule and cooperative, making sure we don’t boycott something in a way that could wind up offending a huge section of membership. Boycotts with overwhelming support will counter the distaste people have expressed for reading the Gazette, our public unifying resource. A supermajority will encourage people to return to attending GM’s on a regular basis. Our true solidarity will attract the 2500 more members per year we need to replace the ones that leave. And we’ll avoid potential erosion of 49% of our membership who wouldn’t want to be seen by an onlooker as supporting any future highly controversial boycott.

      Our operations and stability are more important than any boycott. There is much more that unites us than divides us. Whether you see us as your community, your business, or your family, if we want the coop to thrive, the cooperative comes first. The boycott policy must be codified at 75%. Otherwise, we will look at each other one day and realize that something quite precious has been lost.

      My name is Jesse Rosenfeld. I stand as pro-Coop. Vote Yes for 75%, yes for solidarity, yes for cooperation.

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