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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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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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Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz

April 28, 2011

Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council
Whole Foods Ad-Hoc Committee

Dear Chair Steve Laferriere and Members of the JPNC Whole Foods Ad-Hoc Committee:

Thank you for your service to the Jamaica Plain community by taking on this new role within the JP Neighborhood Council. I write today to outline what I hope will serve as constructive suggestions for addressing the controversies that have divided our neighborhood since the release of the news that Whole Foods intended to move into the space of the former Hi-Lo Market.

The planned expansion of a Whole Foods Market into the Hyde Square section of Jamaica Plain has generated heated debate among my constituents. Since I first learned of Hi-Lo Foods’ closing, my office has done its best to understand from all sides the different perspectives on this highly divisive issue. I’ve met with representatives from Whole Foods, spoken with former employees of Hi-Lo, heard from members of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, and spoken with staff at the JPNDC and local Main Streets organizations. My staff members and I attended community meetings at the Blessed Sacrament development, the Kennedy Elementary, and the First Baptist Church, where we listened to the concerns of community activists both for and against the expansion, and in the middle. Most important, we read hundreds of emails and letters from ordinary residents throughout Jamaica Plain detailing how the opening of a Whole Foods in Hyde Square would affect their lives—for better and for worse.

As many residents expressed, there are several positives to bringing a retailer such as Whole Foods to JP. We stand to gain potentially dozens of new jobs in the neighborhood, at rates of pay and with benefits that will likely exceed those paid by Hi-Lo. 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 could also increase access to healthy food to the Hyde/Jackson area, especially for those without cars, at a time when many other low-income neighborhoods suffer dire health impacts because of the lack of such access. I believe firmly that all people deserve to have realistic healthful food options, no matter what zip code or socio-economic bracket they live in.

Unfortunately, there are also serious negative impacts that Whole Foods’ entry into the neighborhood is likely to bring. I believe, with a heavy heart, that these disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

Looking at data from other instances where Whole Foods has located in low- and middle-income neighborhoods, it’s clear that the presence of Whole Foods rapidly and substantially raises property values in its surrounding areas. This is the inherent problem. Even if Whole Foods behaves as the best corporate citizen, the best neighbor possible by all of our usual standards, its presence will still light a fire under the gentrification process that will displace low- and moderate- income residents from JP.

Increasing property values in our community is not always bad. Indeed, this is something every home owner in JP—low- or high-income, white, brown, or black—probably hopes for. But pace matters. A lot. There are families who have spent generations building JP into the incredible neighborhood it is today. We stand to lose many of these families, and their friends and neighbors, if property taxes and rents balloon so fast that their incomes can’t keep up. In order to preserve the character of JP that we all love and believe in so deeply, development has to happen at a pace our neighbors can benefit from, not be displaced by.

Whole Foods has said many times that they aspire to be a positive neighbor and a responsible corporate citizen in the JP community. I believe this is true and therefore ask Whole Foods to recognize that their typical strategy for integrating into new neighborhoods is not designed to protect economically and socially diverse communities. In action, this requires Whole Foods to take some specific steps to help mitigate the impacts described above.

  1. Whole Foods has stated that they expect to hire about 100 workers at their planned JP location. In order for local residents to actually benefit from this job creation, and for Whole Foods’ presence to contribute to local wealth creation, Whole Foods needs to commit to hiring locally for a specific percentage of these jobs.
  2. Whole Foods should also work with credible community groups in the Hyde/Jackson area to set up and endow a community preservation fund for the purpose of keeping Hyde/Jackson area properties affordable for current residents. This will mean front-loading Whole Foods’ typical neighborhood philanthropy, replacing its current strategy of rolling “5% days” and small donations to a variety of groups. The trouble with that existing strategy is that, not too long from now, Whole Foods’ corporate giving in JP will be benefiting the future neighborhood that its presence will create—not the current neighbors who’ve worked so hard to make JP what it is today and who stand to be displaced. Endowing a fund that could buy available property in the Hyde/Jackson area with a commitment to keeping it affordable will require a serious financial commitment—no doubt. But Whole Foods’ detrimental impact on the neighborhood in the absence of such an investment would be of a far greater magnitude.

If making commitments of this size is beyond Whole Foods’ reach, the simplest way to protect the neighborhood would be for Whole Foods to break their lease on the Hyde Square space, or sublet it to another grocer specializing in Latino foods.

I make these proposals as an elected official who represents all of the JP community, and who is committed to stewarding its long-term interests. But I also make them as a JP resident who deeply loves this community—with all its blemishes, all its character, and all its complexities. I know you, as JPNC members, share this passion for our community. I thank you again for your service in tackling these difficult issues and look forward to working with you to find solutions that reflect the pride, creativity, and mutual respect that are the fundamental values of our neighborhood.

Saludos,

Sonia Chang-Díaz 
State Senator 
Second Suffolk District

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In what is becoming a very tense issue in a Boston community known for its diversity, welcoming attitude, and respect of fellow neighbors, Monday’s Jamiaca Plain Neighborhood Council meeting showed a neighborhood divided about the arrival of a new Whole Foods store in the Hyde Square section of JP. Here is a summary of the events from around the web:

Jamaica Plain Patch

Click on the image below to watch video segments of the meeting.

The comments from readers about this video have been quite diverse and also reflect the divisive tone that has dominated this debate. Here are just a few examples from the article:

As I said in another post, I attended the neighborhood council meeting last night. I went out of curiosity, and I observed first-hand everything that I had previously suspected to be the case about these protesters. Firstly, their rude and palpably homophobic response to the second pro-WF speaker (the guy from Paul Gore) demonstrated to me that these folks are not interested in diversity at all–they just want to keep the neighborhood unchanged (an aside: correct me if I’m wrong– is it not true that 40 years ago this was more like an Irish and Greek neighborhood, and Hi-Lo at the time was a basic American supermarket?). That speaker had real guts to show up at a loaded meeting like that–you really could feel the anti-gay bias and (possibly) class animus (though the guy went out of his way to point out he’s not affluent) in the room—no other pro-WF speaker was treated so rudely, and the guy’s message was pretty anodyne. From what I could overhear the protesters saying to each other, they were taking offense at him and his delivery, not his message (the other pro-WF speakers I saw were treated more respectfully). The anti-WF protest was a shrill joke; let’s hope it doesn’t turn into an actual menace–

I did not stay long enough to hear Pat Roberts speak, but per my previous post the rude and hostile reception she received is no surprise at all. Last night was class warfare being waged by people with no class whatsoever! My take-away was the ironic conservative, nativist nature of this protest–it’s classic NIMBYism, but with an ironic upside-down twist. Fight change and diversity (both diversity of thought and cultural/economic diversity), even if this resistance defies logic (i.e. preferring an empty store front to 100 new community jobs–what an insult to the unemployed!)–

One of the other themes that emerged last night, which was repeated by speakers on both sides of the aisle, was a concern that this debate has become toxic and damaging to JP. Several speakers tried to reach beyond the stereotyping and rhetoric to urge us to listen to each other and find ways to work together and move forward. Several opportunities are ripe for the picking — the JPNDC and Harvest Co-Op have both stated that they wish to work to bring a Latino food market or co-op to Hyde Square and WF has committed to investing an unprecedented (for JP) amount of money in organizations we hold dear — and attacking each other isn’t going to do a thing to help make Hyde Square and JP any better.

After seeing this behavior, they deserve a Walmart there. There is no one-store solution that will be able to offer low enough prices to compete with large chains. No co-op or buying club can do that. Immigrant families are not going to pay extra for groceries to keep some anti-corporate fantasy afloat.
This whole culture of entitlement has become very shrill.

Last night I experienced the beginnings of real dialogue last night, and strong and respectful support for stopping Whole Foods in JP.

* I appreciated how people on different sides acknowledged the importance of making JP affordable and diverse, and the importance of not letting space stay empty. When I listened to folks — and the forum *did* promote this listening — I heard a shared desire to stay in the neighborhood for many years, to raise families, to make JP strong.

* JPNC facilitators repeatedly offered for pro-Whole Foods folks to comment; people advocating for an alternative to Whole Foods waited patiently and respected the format.

* I appreciated and respected many of the comments of pro-Whole Foods folks. I saw people being respectful to speakers. I know that many folks working for an alternative to Whole Foods have spent their lives combating homophobia (I myself am queer), and that the opposition to Whole Foods in JP spans class, race, and sexual orientation.

* Folks heard the message of Harvest Co-Op — many people raised their hands to show interest in dialogue, which is why they offered to make it happen. People are not just opposed to Whole Foods in JP; people are looking for real alternative and solutions to making JP affordable and diverse.

* Folks advocating for an alternative to Whole Foods want a JP inclusive across race, class, and sexual orientation. I was hurt when I heard “thank heavens” for middle-class people or that only new people improved JP, because this didn’t feel inclusive. I think Pat didn’t mean to sound divisive, but the way she phrased her comments was hurtful. People aren’t against hearing other opinions. People aren’t against middle-class people or new people — it’s many such people who support an alternative to Whole Foods! But it hurts when it seems that people are saying that middle-class people or new people are better, instead of celebrating the diversity of new and old, of rich and middle-class and working-class, that makes Jamaica Plain so strong.

The Boston Globe

Tuesday’s Boston Globe has a very detailed account of Monday’s meeting, including comments from Whole Foods representatives. (Editor’s Note: After having access to Whole Foods PR department, we have repeatedly called and emailed them since February 15 about the letter they wrote to JP Residents and also to get comment about Monday’s meeting. We have  yet to get a response, so we are reporting what they said to the Globe prior to the meeting.)

From The Globe:

In a phone interview prior to Monday night’s forum, company spokeswoman Heather McCready said, when asked whether outcry from some residents could cause Whole Foods to pull back on plans to move into JP, “I think the facts sort of stand as they are for us,” before later adding. “Our lease is signed and we have access to the building starting in late March.”

“We’re listening, and we are hearing both sides” in the neighborhood’s debate over Whole Foods’ future opening, said Whole Foods’ spokeswoman in a phone interview before the forum. “As we’ve said before, we have a long history of being a very productive and positive member of communities we serve.”

After the renovation process begins and Whole Foods has a better idea of its timeline for opening, she said the company plans to host community-wide meetings at which “we will be happy to address any questions the community has.”

The Globe also reported that “more than a dozen” speakers shared their public comments at the forum expressing their support of the new Whole Foods, while “around twice as many” spoke against it.

Facebook

On a pro-Whole Foods Facebook page called WE ARE ALL WHOLE FOODS (created by Boston social media enthusiast Steve Garfield), there was very little activity from the page’s followers, with just one post by one fan of the page:

Saw this in the Patch today. One particular passage caught my eye:

Later in her remarks, Roberts drew shouts of “racist!” and “bigot!” when she said, “I say ‘Welcome’ to all the new people who have made this a safer, quieter and cleaner place.”

Stay classy, JP.

Another fan responded to this post with the following:

Last night’s meeting was actually a huge improvement over the first. But the important thing now is that if you support WF coming to JP, you must let the JPNC know. Here’s the email address: info.jpnc@gmail.com

Because of the way the meeting was announced (as a forum for folks “with concerns” about the use of the Hi Lo space), the people most motivated to attend and speak were those who are opposed to WF’s planned use of the space. Those who agree may not have seen any purpose in giving up an evening to go to a meeting to simply say they agree. So take a minute now and send a sentence or two to the JPNC. Include your name, address and telephone number. And ask your friends who want a WF in JP (or just want to avoid having yet one more empty building in Hyde Square) to do the same.

Thanks!

 

On the Facebook site for WHOSE FOODS?, which is actively trying to stop Whole Foods from entering JP, the comments were a bit more active. Here are just a few:

A poor resident’s chances of being forced to move out of a gentrifying neighborhood are only 0.5% greater than in a non-gentrifying one.

Only Latin foods stores should be allowed in this neighborhood. There are plenty of white neighborhoods that can have a Whole Foods. Even Stop & Shop is gross but at least Aftrican-AMericans shop there a lot – at South Bay particularly. I am not happy about any of this. I live in government housing and will be forced out and I can’t work because of disability.

Only Latin food stores should be allowed? Only white neighborhoodds should have a Whole Foods? Stop and Shop is for African Americans? I am afraid of this kind of tone in the discussion.

Members also posted pictures of the rally that was held by Whose Foods? organizers before the forum:

Twitter

During the Monday forum, Twitter was not that active, although a few tweets and RTs did show up in streams such as #whosefoods, #jamaicaplain and #wholefoods. However, on Tuesday, the tweets did start getting more active, especially those that were critical of Whose Foods? campaign:

At the next @whosefoods performance, they should bring the guy on stilts from Wake up the Earth and the mariachi band from Tacos El Charro

@WhoseFoods You should really open up your Facebook page to have more of a dialogue.

newly posted video clip of several speakers from the “discussion” last night. http://bit.ly/fy7j5A

community group @WhoseFoods opposing gentrification-via-Whole-Foods in Boston.

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