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Estimados Residentes de Jamaica Plain,

Nos complace informarles que ya recibimos las llaves de la propiedad ubicada en el 415 Centre Street y que hemos comenzado con las renovaciones. Como les prometí en mi última carta, quiero informarles sobre los últimos acontecimientos. Hemos recibido cientos de llamadas y mensajes de correo electrónico de personas expresando su apoyo y entusiasmo por la próxima apertura de nuestra tienda, algo que realmente apreciamos.

Actualización sobre la Tienda:
Actualmente estamos terminando la fase de demolición dentro del edificio y pronto finalizaremos nuestros planes de diseño.  Como anunciamos previamente, no realizaremos cambios a la estructura del edificio ni a las características exteriores que hacen de esta  propiedad un edificio único. Sin embargo, necesitamos realizar trabajos extensos en el interior del edificio para cumplir con los códigos vigentes. Es probable que este proceso tome hasta seis meses, por lo que anticipamos inaugurar la tienda durante el otoño. Si usted desea mantenerse al tanto de nuestros avances, le recomendamos seguir la cuenta de Twitter @WFM_JP. ¡Ya tenemos más de 270 seguidores!

Probablemente nuestra noticia más emocionante es que ya contratamos al equipo de liderazgo de la tienda.  Me enorgullece presentarles a Mike Walker y a Wanda Hernández, como el Líder y la Líder Asociado del Equipo de Tienda en JP. Mike ha sido miembro del equipo de Whole Foods Market desde 1994 y su puesto más reciente es de Líder del Equipo de Tienda de nuestra tienda en Symphony. Wanda ha trabajado para Whole Foods Market desde el 2005 y su puesto es de Líder Asociado del Equipo de Tienda en nuestra localidad de Wellesley. Tanto Mike como Wanda tienen lazos con el área de Jamaica Plain y ambos comparten una magnífica visión sobre la creación de un mercado comunitario que se convertirá en una parte integral y homogénea del vecindario.

Su Mercado Comunitario:

Nos sentimos muy inspirados por la gran demostración de interés comunitario que hemos presenciado durante los últimos meses. ¡Es maravilloso formar parte de una comunidad que se preocupa tanto por lo que ocurre en su vecindario! Quisiera compartir con ustedes algunas noticias emocionantes sobre nuestras asociaciones comunitarias:

–       Apoyo a Organizaciones Locales: El mes pasado nuestras tiendas de Brighton y Symphony recaudaron más de $8,500 para la organización Hyde Square Task Force durante un Día del 5%, esto gracias al maravilloso apoyo de la comunidad. Cada trimestre llevaremos a cabo un Día del 5% para apoyar a las organizaciones sin fines de lucro locales.

–       Alimentos Saludables en las Escuelas: La escuela Boston Latin School será la primera escuela de la ciudad de Boston en implementar una barra de ensaladas bajo el patrocinio financiero de nuestro Proyecto de Barras de Ensaladas. También llevaremos este programa a la escuela Curley K-8 School, en donde planeamos donar otra barra de ensaladas para fomentar los almuerzos saludables a través del acceso a la fruta fresca, los vegetales, las proteínas y los granos enteros.

–       Agricultores y Productores Locales: Durante el verano planeamos realizar “mercados agrícolas” en nuestro estacionamiento, de manera que los agricultores y productores locales puedan tener un lugar gratuito para vender sus alimentos.  Una vez que abramos oficialmente nuestras puertas, también apoyaremos a estos productores locales y a muchos otros ofreciendo la mayor cantidad posible de productos locales.

Reunión Comunitaria:

Según lo prometido, realizaremos nuestra Reunión Comunitaria el jueves 2 de junio en la escuela Curley K-8 School de 7:00 pm a 8:30 pm. Queremos presentarnos formalmente, introducir al equipo de liderazgo y dar a conocer nuestros planes para la tienda. También contaremos con un periodo de preguntas y respuestas cuya duración será de 30 minutos y durante el cual los integrantes de la comunidad tendrán la oportunidad de realizar preguntas sobre la tienda y ofrecer sus recomendaciones sobre cómo podemos atender mejor las necesidades de la comunidad de Jamaica Plain.

Oferta de Productos:

Nos gustaría que ustedes nos informen sobre los productos que desean adquirir en la tienda. Nuestros compradores están trabajando diligentemente para contar con una amplia variedad de productos que cumplan con nuestras estrictas normas de calidad. ¡Queremos escuchar sus opiniones! Hemos creado una dirección de email, JP_Products@wholefoods.com para este fin. Durante la reunión comunitaria entregaremos tarjetas postales pre-pagada para que la comunidad de JP puedan indicarnos cuáles productos desean ver en las repisas de nuestra tienda.

Contrataciones:

A medida que continuemos con las renovaciones y tengamos una idea más clara sobre nuestra fecha de apertura, comenzaremos el proceso de contratación de Miembros del Equipo para la tienda. Realizaremos las entrevistas en un remolque que situaremos dentro del estacionamiento de la propiedad. Planeamos contratar a cerca de 100 Miembros del Equipo (aproximadamente 70 de tiempo completo y 30 de tiempo parcial) y esperamos que muchos de ellos provengan de la comunidad local de JP. Durante la reunión comunitaria proporcionaremos más información sobre cómo convertirse en un Miembro del Equipo de Whole Foods Market.

Esperamos ansiosamente la reunión del próximo 2 de Junio. ¡Estamos deseosos de presentarnos y de proporcionarles más información sobre Whole Foods Market!

Saludos cordiales,

Laura Derba

Presidenta de la Región Norte del Atlántico

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Dear Jamaica Plain Residents,

We’re excited to say that we’ve received the keys to 415 Centre Street, and our renovations are under way. As I promised in my last letter, I want to share with you our latest developments. We’ve received hundreds of calls and emails from people expressing their support and enthusiasm about our upcoming store opening, which we greatly appreciate.

Store Update:
We are currently completing our demolition phase inside the building and finalizing our design plans.  As previously stated, we will not be making any changes to the structure of the building or to exterior features that make the building so unique. However the interior of the building requires extensive work in order to bring it up to code. This process will likely take up to six months, so we anticipate a fall opening date. To stay up to date on the progress, follow us on Twitter at @WFM_JP. We already have over 270 followers!

Perhaps our most exciting update is that we have hired the leadership team for the store.  I’m proud to introduce Mike Walker and Wanda Hernandez as the Store Team Leader and Associate Store Team Leader of the JP store. Mike has been a Whole Foods Market team member since 1994, most recently as the Store Team Leader of our Symphony store. Wanda has been with Whole Foods Market since 2005, most recently as the Associate Store Team Leader in our Wellesley location. Mike and Wanda both have ties to the Jamaica Plain area, and share a great vision for creating a community market that becomes an integral and seamless part of the neighborhood.

Your Community Market:

We’ve been inspired by the great showing of community involvement that we’ve witnessed in the past few months. It is wonderful to be part of a community that cares so deeply about what’s happening in their neighborhood! I’d like to share with you some exciting updates on our community partnerships:

–          Supporting Local Organizations: Just last month, our Brighton and Symphony stores raised over $8,500 for the Hyde Square Task Force during a 5 % Day, thanks to the amazing support of the community! We will hold 5 % Days to support local nonprofit organizations quarterly.

–          Healthy Food in Schools: The Boston Latin School will be the first school in the city of Boston to launch their salad bar funded through our Salad Bar Project initiative. From there, we will extend the program to the Curley K-8 School, where we plan to donate another salad bar to help encourage healthier lunch options through access to fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.

–          Local Growers and Producers: This summer, we are hoping to host farmers’ markets in our parking lot so that local growers and producers can have a place to sell their food free of charge.  Once we officially open our doors, we will also try to support these local producers and many others by carrying as many local products as we can.

Town Hall Meeting:

As promised, we will hold our Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, June 2nd at the Curley K-8 School from 7:00 – 8:30 pm. We are looking forward to formally introducing ourselves and our store leadership team, as well as presenting our plans for the store. There will also be a 30 minute Q&A period that will give community members an opportunity to ask questions about the store, as well as making suggestions of ways we can best serve as Jamaica Plain’s neighborhood’s community market.

Product Offerings:

We are looking to you to tell us what products you would like to see in the store. Our buyers are working diligently to stock a wide range of products that meet our strict quality standards. We want to hear from you! We’ve created an email address, JP_Products@wholefoods.com, and we will be handing out self addressed post cards at our Town Hall Meeting so that the JP community can tell us what products you’d like to see on our shelves.

Hiring:

As we proceed with renovations and get a clearer idea of when we will open, we will begin the hiring process for the store. We will be conducting interviews from a trailer on the store’s property. We plan to hire around 100 team members (approximately 70 full-time, 30 part-time) and hope that many of them will be from the local JP community. More information on becoming a Whole Foods Market team member will be available at the community meeting.

We look forward to the meeting on June 2nd. We are eager to introduce ourselves and share with you what Whole Foods Market is all about!

Kind regards,

Laura Derba

North Atlantic Regional President

Whole Foods Market

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Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz

After publishing a letter asking Whole Foods to help set up a housing fund to benefit Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang- Díaz has followed up with a second letter, which tries to clarify her positions about her initial letter. The first letter was criticized by many constituents, leading some to create a Facebook page that wants her voted out of office.

Here is the letter she sent us yesterday:

May 12, 2011

Julio Ricardo Varela
[ADDRESS WITHDRAWN]

Re: Whole Foods in Hyde Square, Jamaica Plain

Dear Julio Ricardo:

Thank you for contacting me with your views regarding Whole Foods Market’s entry into Hyde Square in Jamaica Plain. I appreciate your taking the time to participate in this debate about our neighborhood and to share your perspective with me.

Since Whole Foods announced its decision to open a store in Jamaica Plain, my staff and I have done our best to understand the different points of view on this issue. We met with representatives from Whole Foods; attended many community meetings; spoke with former employees of Hi-Lo, members of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, and staff at the JPNDC and local Main Street organizations; and read hundreds of letters and emails from JP residents.

As many residents expressed, there are several benefits to bringing Whole Foods to JP. The store would be a source of new, good-paying jobs. This is no small thing for the workers and families who will be touched by employment, especially at a time of still-fragile recovery for our economy. Whole Foods would also increase access to healthy foods at a time when other socio-economically diverse neighborhoods are suffering negative health consequences due to a lack of healthy options. It would also increase quality of life for residents who want Whole Foods’ offerings in JP.

Yet, others pointed out that the presence of Whole Foods will likely rapidly and substantially raise property values in the surrounding neighborhood. Experiences in similar neighborhoods around the country strongly suggest this is true (e.g. Washington Post 7/22/06; Fortune Magazine 7/12/07).Increasing property values in our community is usually a good thing. Indeed, it’s something every home owner in JP—low- or high-income, white, brown, or black—surely hopes for. But, if property taxes and rents shoot up faster than people’s incomes can keep up with, we risk displacing long-time JP families and their neighbors, both renters and home-owners.

This rapid displacement is a high price to pay. That’s why I believe, with a heavy heart, that the disadvantages of Whole Foods’ arrival in JP outweigh the advantages.

To be clear, however, my role as State Senator does not afford me the power to prevent the lease of property between private parties—nor should it. A new group of residents, the JP Neighborhood Council Ad-Hoc Committee, has been charged with helping the community collectively respond to this situation in a way that respects and includes residents on all sides of this issue. Whole Foods has said they strive to be a good community partner, and as such, I hope they will be responsive to the requests of the Ad-Hoc Committee and the larger community.

Recently, I released a letter offering two ideas into the mix of those the JPNC Ad-Hoc Committee will likely consider as they begin the process of finding a compromise. In the letter, I proposed that Whole Foods commit to hiring local residents for a specific percentage of jobs in their new JP location, and work with community partners to create a housing trust to help prevent the displacement of low-income families in the neighborhood.

As always, I welcome your feedback on my position on this issue or any other affecting our neighborhoods.

Thank you, again, for taking the time to reach out to me. Your advocacy helps bring about better public policy in our district neighborhoods and in the Commonwealth.  Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me or my Senior Policy Aide and JP Liaison, Nika Elugardo, at (617) 722-1673 or nika.elugardo@masenate.gov.

Saludos,  

Sonia Chang-Díaz
State Senator
Second Suffolk District

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When we started covering the Whole Foods JP controversy in January, our biggest concern was a simple one: will Whole Foods realize that part of its Latino clientele in the Hyde Square area of Jamaica Plain will be looking for the same kinds of cultural food staples they found in the former Hi-Lo Supermarket?

That was basically the reason we started blogging about the new Whole Foods in JP. While some raised serious issues about rising rents and gentrification (all valid reasons, even though poorly executed) and others praised anything that Whole Foods represents (a good effort, although they sometime went too far in ignoring how much the Hi-Lo was a Boston Latino institution), we just wanted to ask Whole Foods: will we be able to get some tostones (fried plantains)?

Well, if you use other Whole Foods stores who sell from predominantly Latino communities as a model, the answer is a resounding YES.

This week, during a topsy-turvy week at work, here were some of the lunch options at a Whole Foods in Orlando, Florida.

A Latin food section with roast pork, friend plantains, white rice, yellow rice, and sweet plantains. The ingredients were fresh, natural, and smelled delicious. It was a pleasant surprise, although it makes a lot of sense, since the Orlando neighborhood where this Whole Foods is located contains a very large Puerto Rican population.

This lunch plate looks pretty similar to many of the Latino food options in JP, no? Last time we checked, we don’t see the Stop & Shop in JP doing this.

So, to Whole Foods, we eagerly anticipate what you plan for JP. Just make sure to bring the food inventory from your Orlando store.

Whole Foods to Hold JP Town Hall Meeting on June 2

This week, Whole Foods announced that they will be holding a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, June 2nd from 7-9pm at the Curley School in JP. It is interesting to note that this is the FIRST public Town Hall Meeting that Whole Foods is holding after being very quiet and guarded about their responses. We will be there! Join us.

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The following statement was sent to us from Laura Derba, President of North Atlantic region of Whole Foods. Derba was sent the following questions, but instead issued the statement. Here are the questions we asked:

  • When do you expect the new store to open?
  • What do you think of the two public letters written to the JP Neighborhood Council by Senator Chang-Díaz and Councillor Arroyo? Do you agree with all the recommendations they mention?
  • Will Whole Foods guarantee that cultural food staples from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other countries of Latin America be stocked in the Hyde Square store?
  • Is Whole Foods committed to the development of a more robust Latin Quarter in Hyde Square? If so, what plans do you have to make this is a reality?
  • How many ex-Hi Lo employees have you hired to work in other Whole Food Locations? How many positions do you expect to have open in the Hyde Square location?

Here is what we received:

We are aware of the avid discussion in the community and online regarding the recent letters issued by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and City Councilor Felix Arroyo to the Ad-Hoc Committee on Whole Foods of the JP Neighborhood Council, and we genuinely appreciate the passionate interest. It’s exciting to be a part of a community that cares so much about what is happening in their neighborhood and we look forward to building positive partnerships when we open this fall.

We look forward to introducing ourselves to the neighborhood later this month at our first Town Hall meeting where we hope we can underscore our commitment to the community—that we are active community partners on a daily basis. From 5 % Days, food donations, event and sporting team sponsorships and community clean up days with Team Members, we strive to support the local community, economy and businesses. Giving back, acting as trusted partner and being a good neighbor supports our core values as a company and we look forward to proving ourselves as a positive community partner to JP residents. I’ll be providing additional information including the date of our Town Hall meeting in my second letter to the community, which will go out next week.

–Laura Derba, President, Whole Foods Market

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What was originally a local neighborhood issue, has now become a hot political potato for residents of Jamaica Plain in Boston. When The Boston Herald published the news in January that a new Whole Foods would be replacing the revered Latino Hi-Lo supermarket, few would have thought that it would cause a hornet’s nest. And that controversy, which at times has reached a level of anger and frustration, took another turn yesterday on Facebook, where a new site to fire Massachusetts state senator Sonia Chang-Díaz was formed.

Called FIRE SONIA CHANG-DIAZ, the page lists its mission as follows:

The ‘Fire Sonia Chang-Diaz’ page was created to serve as platform for residents of the Second Suffolk Massachusetts State Senate District to voice their opposition against State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and her recent anti-business statements.We are a multicultural, intergenerational group of 2nd Suffolk residents and natives who care deeply about the future of the neighborhood and who want to be able to live, work, and raise families here. We are working to stop State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz from creating an anti-business climate in the 2nd Suffolk District. We are not against Sonia Chang-Diaz or anyone who supports her; we are against an anti-business climate in the 2nd Suffolk District.

This powerful campaign is solely the result of the volunteer effort of a grassroots group of folks with no organizational budget or funding from outside organizations, but with limitless passion for what makes a great business community.

The site has 59 LIKES as of this morning, and makes mention of the fact that Senator Chang-Diaz’s public letter to the JP Neighborhood Council was pulled down from her main website.

Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz

Other comments on the Facebook page expressed anger towards the senator’s position:

“Well, Sonia Chang you might have removed the letter from your web page.. But it’s everywhere, DEMANDING… your political demise. I’m sure voters will remember this”

“Thanks to everyone who has “Liked” this page. We have some great momentum behind us now! It is interesting to note that Sen. Chang-Diaz’s letter to the JPNC regarding Whole Foods is absent from the senators website. She’s quick to post that the Phoenix named her Boston’s Best Local Politician however; there’s no mention of firestorm she stepped into with her position on Whole Foods. Keep spreading the word!”

“Like a true politician, throw the stone and hide the hand. Well we and many others know the truth. We should demand an explanation…. If not an apology from her…”

“JP residents need to start looking NOW for a serious candidate to run against this woman. She does not represent the majority by any means.”

“Thanks for the “Likes” everyone. Were only just getting started. Sen. Chang-Diaz may be breathing a sigh of relief knowing that Osama Bin Laden is going to dominate the news cycle for the days to come but, voters have long memories and we are not going to forget the statements our state senator has made. Keep spreading the word!!!”

“I don’t live in JP but what she’s doing is ridiculous. She is just like all the other politicians on Beacon Hill. Useless.”

“I had previously always been a fan of Sonia Chang-Diaz, but this populist, nonsensical approach is paramount to her asking for payoffs to “protect” a business. Kinda like the mob. And I am a member of the ad-hoc committee.”

“What a sad sad state of affairs. Why not address crime, safety and education?”

“Senator Chang-Diaz demands fund or business can’t open in JP. Someone isn’t in touch with its constituency.”

We did contact the Senator’s office this morning to get a statement, but they have not responded yet. Once we get a statement, we will share.

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