Our family shops and participates in membership at Ozark Natural Foods. I emphasize "participates in membership," because Ozark Natural Foods is more than just an organic/natural grocery store. As a member of this grocery cooperative, or an "owner", the responsibility of electing a board of directors to vision the future of the co-op and supervise the GM are important parts of participating in membership. Some people just want to get their nectarines and peanut butter and move on. More than peanut butter and nectarines are involved in the landscape of Ozark Natural Foods. There is a three tiered system that keeps peanut butter and nectaries available. The staff, the Board of Directors, and owners work together to create a vision, execute that vision, and govern and keep accountable those responsible for the vision. Sometimes we elect assholes that are myopic and wrapped up in politics from the past.The thing about looking at the past and exacting action for the past in the present... it can seriously damage cohesion and hope. It never feels good to feel like a system is being punished and hijacked based on influences and problems that are in the past. That system is made up of people. The people ultimately are hurt in the end. Things have been wonky at our Co-Op thanks to some board members who aren't willing to be accountable to the ownership. We keep hearing this: "We have 9,000 members and 146 people voting to remove a director from the board isn't enough." Hold the phone! 200 members elected those same members into their seats, but 146 aren't enough to take them out of their seats? Hell nah! I might be from the hood, but I DO know something about common sense and numbers. Isn't this sort of like a simple number problem?! If 9,000 fucking people elected you then I can feel you. I can totally understand what you are trying to get at.... but the fact remains that 9,000 owners didn't give a damn- only 200 and it was 200 because we extended balloting... and now those (almost) 200 are saying that we are tired of your shenanigans and want you the hell out.
We voted you out, we made ANOTHER set of petitions to remove you. We broke up with you twice- we served you the divorce papers and you are steady tryin' to climb back in our bed. Knock that shit off!
HERE IS YOUR SIGN.
The crazy started with a very suspicious grab for power and foundational changes during an executive session. 4 board members implemented a plan, that was obviously premeditated, without the other three board members knowing what the hell was going on. One move these directors made was to fire our long time, successful, GM of the Co-Op. She was fired "without cause" and without a plan established for the procurement of a new GM.
A common theme I hear from people who were happy that she is fired was that she was not "nice enough".
Women in positions of power always get this moniker. They are ball busters who take charge and get the job done. "Nice enough" isn't a job description men need... but for some reason, put a woman in charge and she needs to be "nice." Nice doesn't pay the bills! Until I see proof of Alysen Land being inept at her job, incapable of reaching the goals that keep Ozark Natural Foods competitive, and/or no longer helping the co-op to grow... I don't need "nice" as part of her job description. Another theme I keep reading and hearing concerning why Alysen should have been fired is that her employees were under some sort of abusive work environment. Which is interesting. The work environment that Alysen Land created was so very abusive that her employees, tired of being ignored in the governing process, put their jobs and livelihoods at stake and staged a lockout. To say that this act of bravery was a group of hand-picked, brainwashed, favorites of Alysen Land is to land a deep wounding blow. These people that protested the board of director's multiple attempts to block the owner's petitions for removal of certain board members are brilliant, well-educated, and free thinking individuals.
What I saw at the protest moved me. I was moved by the show of courage that the staff of Ozark Natural Foods displayed. We've been fighting to hold our Board of Directors accountable for months now. The staff made a bold move in closing down the Co-Op until they were heard, because of their efforts the board is listening. Because of the move the staff made, owner's voices are being restored and the board of directors are beginning to see the deep impact that sidestepping accountability has on cooperation.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to the staff of Ozark Natural Foods. What you did took courage. It wasn't "nice", but it was the right thing to do.
Welcome back to Ozark Natural Foods Alysen Land. I CANNOT imagine how all the mud slinging might have impacted you, but from one ball buster to another: keep your head up!
You do good work.
You are smart.
You are capable.
You are hardworking.
You are also cranky as hell.... and frankly, I dig that about you ;)
I am looking forward to see how the board further restores the process of accountability for owners. Translation: Removing Linda and Sue, you know... since we did vote for their removal and all.