Anti-Gentrification Group Demands Whole Foods Donate 1 Percent of Store Revenue

In a posting on the Whose Foods Web site, organizers decried Whole Foods' unwillingness to sign a community benefits agreement.

Whose Foods, an anti-gentrification group founded as a response to high-end grocer Whole Foods' new store in Hyde Square, demands that 1 percent of the store's revenues be used to combat what the group sees as the store's negative effects.

A statement signed by 20 people reads: "We demand this 1 percent for the funding of local anti-displacement organizing, especially in Hyde Square, and the creation and/or preservation of local affordable housing, annually for the duration of the store’s 20-year lease."

The statement, posted today on the group's Web site, comes after Whole Foods said it would put forward by a negotiating team from the JP Neighborhood Council. The terms of that agreement were not made public, but are based on a report the Neighborhood Council wrote this summer, a council member told the Gazette.

Whose Foods calls on Whole Foods to sign a community benefits agreement in addition to donating 1 percent of store revenue.

"The Whose Foods? Coalition is unwilling to let Whole Foods walk into our neighborhood without a real commitment to keeping JP affordable and diverse," the statement read.

Keep up with all the news on this issue and browse its history on the JP Patch Whole Foods topic page.

V. Lenin September 15, 2011 at 04:53 PM
Orion, this is where I get my information. As reported in the JP Patch on September 2: "...Bender said the following community organizations are among those who have been contacted for input and asked to support the proposed community benefits agreement: Community Servings, the Bromley-Heath Tenant Management Corporation, Urban Edge, City Life/Vida Urbana, the Martha Eliot Health Center, Egleston Square Main Streets, the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, and Whose Foods." Most of these are great organizations whose input can be quite valuable, but they don't include any churches, block or neighborhood associations, arts organizations, educational institutions, etc. In fact, only a couple of them are membership organization that can truly claim to represent a local constituency. I have lived in JP for a very long time and have been to my share of meetings.
Chris September 15, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Orion: You have proffered several "facts" in this "internet chat room" that have been vigorously contested by people who were at the meetings in question. Some of your "facts" have been manifestly false--do we really need to go back and review how you said Whole Foods still refuses to meet with the community and all the money spent at the store goes straight to shareholders? You refer to other posters as "(paid?) commentariat," accuse someone who reported what she heard at a meeting of "slander." Another is an "Internet Phantom." Just saying...
JP East September 15, 2011 at 05:21 PM
I'm seeing Orion in a new light... Kriegman asserts, “The upsurge of civil society activity, in the form of NGOs and social movements, over the past few decades can be understood as an early manifestation of the latency in the global system, and at the same time this transnational activity helps deepen the latency. However, existing social movements have not found a way to effectively balance the creative tension between pluralism and coherence to provide a collective framework for theory and action. Without a shared framework, it is hard to imagine how the latent potential would coalesce into a global systemic movement. The development of a shared framework will depend on new forms of leadership to facilitate engaged dialogue inclusive of diverse voices.”
JP Pragmatist September 15, 2011 at 05:56 PM
At this point, y'all are just enabling the ramblings of a loon tooner. Same advice to y'all as to WFM, ignore him. You gave him great info. We all gave WFM good info. Repetition makes the sane, look foolish. He can go back through all the info, no need to repeat any of it. No need to coddle any more of these people for whom published facts are inconvenient truths.
JP Pragmatist September 15, 2011 at 06:02 PM
If 6 months of rancor has resulted in 60 ish signatories to a profoundly unreasonable demand letter. I think we all have our answer to the strength of this "movement." Does a calculator even go low enough to show what % 60 is of the 37,400 residents of JP?
Orion Kriegman September 15, 2011 at 06:04 PM
Vladimir Lenin, great! Introduce yourself to me at a community event in JP and let's chat, I suspect we agree about far more than we disagree. And it is ok that we don't see eye to eye on somethings. After eating lunch, and reflecting a bit, I realize that this chat forum doesn't bring out the best in me. I apologize for my caustic comments.
JP Pragmatist September 15, 2011 at 06:05 PM
That said, I'd like the JPNC to square that .0000001% with the 50% vote it took that concluded WFM does not " fit " here. How does that % disparity square with the JPNC claiming to represent the 37,400 people of JP ?
V. Lenin September 15, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Extremely erudite. But how can we use this framework to understand what is happening in Jamaica Plain? First, we must understand the JPNC as representing a mere section, or faction of interests, within the community (Voter participation in JPNC elections does not indicate a broadly representative body or one with deep legitimacy in the neighborhood.) Thus, when it sought to “balance the creative tension between pluralism and coherence” in the Whole Foods debate it was unable to do so, in large part because its own historical, institutional, and ideological biases skewed it toward the positions already staked out by the Whose Food interests. The outreach conducted by the JPNC prior to drafting its “Good Neighbor Agreement” framework, was limited and indicative of the JPNC’s ingrained partiality. Thus it was unable to develop a “shared framework…to facilitate dialogue inclusive of diverse voices.” It opted for coherence (of a sort) because it could not fully manage the pluralism within the community.
Chris September 15, 2011 at 06:07 PM
You might have to answer the questions in your last two posts--I think we're all taking your advice in your other post and signing off.
V. Lenin September 15, 2011 at 06:23 PM
Ya, I'm outta' here.
JP East September 15, 2011 at 06:26 PM
Orion...You seem like a decent sort of guy and this is a very self aware and humble post. But, I'm having trouble squaring it with your title as it appears on a couple of websites: "Transition organizer for community resilience and planetary civilization". Did you grant this title to yourself or did someone else bestow it upon you? Do you really feel qualifed to help us organize our transition to a planetary civilization? I personnally barely feel qualified to select a beer given the newly expanded offerings at Brendan Behan. I'm going to have lunch myself now. Hopefully I won't regret the question after!
JP Pragmatist September 15, 2011 at 06:35 PM
See y'all ! 8-]
Robin Maxfield September 15, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Robin Maxfield September 15, 2011 at 07:15 PM
I love the juicy conversation! Frankly I can't WAIT for them to open so I can do ALL of my shopping there and save gas driving to Cambridge and Legacy. The suggestion for a business to give up 1% of it's revenue is ludicrous and could only be made by someone who has never owned and operated a business. I can't believe anyone is even listening. In fact great advice, let's STOP giving these ridiculous people any attention. BYE BYE
Alice Phoenix September 15, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Peeps, Don't feed the trolls.
Bob from JP September 15, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Don't forget, 1% of revenue = 30%+ of Profits since their margins are about 3%. Pure Lunacy.
JP Pragmatist September 15, 2011 at 07:47 PM
Art students & writers aren't required to take silly buzz kill subjects like economics.
AV September 15, 2011 at 07:52 PM
"Many of us are drawn to the vibrancy of JP, the funky character of its community is a big part of this." ______________________ Orion, you do realize, don't you, that the moment you chose to move to JP drawn by its funky character, you contributed to changing that same character a little bit? Character of any town or city is not static, and while I can understand that certain changes can be difficult for some, there's really no way to set this character in stone and make it unchangeable. Gentrification is not something that happens *after* you move into a community - your move contributed to it. Accept that.
Heath September 15, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Orion-please, man, put away your keyboard and stop posting & reading these comments. Continue your solid work in the Egg (love that garden/park you & others created) and the rest of JP. Your time & energy is much needed (and appreciated) in the community.
gretchen van ness September 15, 2011 at 09:19 PM
"We find that the opening of a community garden has a statistically significant positive impact on the sales prices of properties within 1,000 feet of the garden and that the impact increases over time. Higher-quality gardens have the greatest positive impact. We also find that gardens have the greatest impact in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods." Voicu & Been, "The Effect of Community Gardens on Neighborhood Property Values," Real Estate Economics, vol. 36, pp. 241-283 (2008).
JP Pragmatist September 15, 2011 at 09:27 PM
Pave community gardens - pave them I say! Pave the rain forest. Club seals. Drown all Pongo and Perdita's dalmation puppies, make long luxurious coats out of their pelts. Long live Cruella DeVille our tea baggin' spokes model!
kelli September 15, 2011 at 09:37 PM
JP Pragmatist-you should team up with Rich Parritz and run for the JPNC on that JP for All slate. You both have a knack for negative messages and fondness for tearing people down. This sense of community spirit is exactly what JP needs.
Em September 16, 2011 at 03:46 AM
Also, since when did poor people = funky & diverse? I keep hearing that argument and it doesn't make sense.
Bill September 16, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Em, it seems the term "funky" has replaced the older imperious term "quaint" -- once used somewhat sneeringly by the upper crust when gazing upon the local riff-raff and hoi-polloi. It's actually implies that one is fairly nasty given it's true meaning, but I won't go there. JP is no longer funky, the great unwashed couldn't afford to stay, so it's now simply a sanitized and organized form of 'trendy.' Funky is the South End about 2AM.
JP Pragmatist September 16, 2011 at 04:59 PM
Hey Chris Helms, I think we're due for a new topic. Something creative, like the constitutionality of this demand letter. Seriously. "Requesting" a Community benefits agreement is one thing, but a demand from a group that has no formal certification, not legal authority of any kind and has as part of it's history civil disobedience resulting in arrests is quite another. I think it certainly would be very interesting to see what your spotlight as an investigative journalist could bring to the table.
Deselby September 16, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Using the word "demand" is silly and probably counterproductive, but since there's no threat of violence, it's entirely legal, if hyperbolically rhetorical. I can demand that Whose Foods stop demanding, but what would be the point?
AV September 16, 2011 at 06:09 PM
"I think it certainly would be very interesting to see what your spotlight as an investigative journalist could bring to the table." _____________________ Or, Chris could simply tag such posts under "humor" and it would still be accurate.
AV September 19, 2011 at 11:12 PM
"What is a committee? A group of the unwilling, picked from the unfit, to do the unnecessary." Well, Mr. Harkness got 2 out of 3 right in case of JPNC, so it ain't that bad.
Chris Helms (Editor) September 29, 2011 at 02:10 PM
Editor's note: I deleted a comment that implied (perhaps ironically) the use of force to stop gentrification.
James September 29, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Gee, Chris, if people are threatening violence against "gentrifiers" on this board, I can't IMAGINE why some people might want to keep their identities hidden.


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