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Posts Tagged ‘Jamaica Plain’


Here is the video of  that “same white lady” who talks about her support for Whole Foods in Jamaica Plain. Seems that Twitter protesters forgot that this “same white lady” also said “passion is good, rudeness is not.” No wonder that the Whose Foods? campaign is losing major credibility in the ast 48 hours, to the point that even Mayor Tom Menino is speaking out.

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Boston Mayor Tom Menino said on June 3 that he supports Whole Foods coming to Jamaica PLain.

Maybe it had to take a fiasco Whole Foods Town Hall Meeting to FINALLY have Boston Mayor Tom Menino to publicly comment about the new Whole Foods store that will open in the Hyde Square section of Jamaica Plain, and we want to commend Mayor Menino for doing so.

At his weekly roundtable session with reporters, Menino, who has been facing criticism by JP residents for not making a public comment about the new Whole Foods store, clearly stated his support for the company’s arrival to the neighborhood. As reported by the Jamaica Plain Gazette:

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino today told the Gazette that he wholeheartedly supports Whole Foods’ planned move to Jamaica Plain and that local opposition to the store is the work of “a few [people] trying to make it an issue.”

“I think Whole Foods is great for the neighborhood. They have done a lot to work with the neighborhood,” he said.

Referring to the arrest of three protesters at a meeting Whole Foods hosted June 2, he said, “The folks who caused the problems were lashing out.”

In an apparent joke, the mayor suggested that the commotion at the meeting had been caused by agitators from outside the community. “We are trying to figure out if they are from Philadelphia, Chicago [or] Washington D.C.,” he quipped.

At least one of the people arrested, Peter Blailock, told the Gazette he lives in JP.

Menino said Whole Foods is going to be a vast improvement over Hi-Lo, the grocery store that formerly occupied the 415 Centre St. space that Whole Foods is moving into.

He praised Whole Foods for working closely with the city on reaching out to former Hi-Lo employees and hiring many of them after Hi-Lo closed in February.

Hi-Lo “did not do its duty, they were disrespectful to their workers,” he said.

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This banner led to arrests at the June 2 Whole Foods Town Hall Meeting in JP

It was indeed a sad night for the Jamaica Plain community as what was billed as a opportunity for positive, civil dialogue with Whole Foods, the Boston neighborhood’s future tenant in the Hyde Square section of JP, turned into a night filled with shouting, disrespect, disruption, arrests, and eventually an early shut down by Boston Police.

Later today, JRV.com will be posting RAW video of the first hour of the event to give it the context it deserves, since Whole Foods representatives did indeed show up to the event with the best of intentions. We will also be getting comments and statements from several interested parties, since it is clear that the level of discourse regarding this debate reached a new low level as members of the Whose Foods? organization were more interested in creating havoc on the event that actually trying to voice their concerns against the new Whole Foods in civil manner.

We did receive a statement last night from JP for All/JP para todos founder Rick Stockwood:

There were a great number of us in the room tonight that were excited to hear that issues such as parking, traffic, public transportation, after-hours parking, providing healthy foods to children, and product availability are being addressed by Whole Foods. It’s unfortunate that a community meeting designed to address neighborhood concerns and solutions to address those concerns was hijacked by a group of people who have no other plan than to cause a distraction. We look forward to hearing more about Whole Foods plans and how we can work together to build a long-term partnership that will benefit Hyde Square and Jamaica Plain.

We also emailed Whole Foods, We Are All Foods, Whose Foods? and other parties last night for a statement and once we receive them, we will share.

One final note to add: we want to THANK Boston Councillor Matt O’Malley for being the ONLY BOSTON ELECTED OFFICIAL to attend the event. This issue has become hugely important for several residents of JP, and it is a sad statement when elected officials like Boston Mayor Tom Menino, State Representative Jeffery Sánchez, State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, and Boston Councillors Felix Arroyo, Tito Jackson and Ayanna Pressley chose not to show up.

For more coverage of last night’s event, see today’s JP Patch and Boston Globe.

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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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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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