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Posts Tagged ‘Whose Foods’


In the spirit of complete transparency, we are publishing a comment from Universal Hub that was directed on a recent GUEST POSTthat JRV.com posted about the latest Whole Foods June 2 meeting in Jamaica Plain.

To post an account of “what happened” by Gretchen Van Ness, someone who has been publicly pro-WF for many months online and publicly, is not a way to give an objective perspective on what really happened. It is a complete lie for her to state that she saw someone, anyone, hitting a police officer once or repeatedly at that meeting. That did not happen. If it had, that person would have been swiftly arrested and charged.

Here are the facts:

“Three persons were arrested and will be summonsed on charges of disrupting a public assembly and trespassing, in the case of two persons, and disrupting a public assembly in the third” (JP Patch). Where in that statement is there anything about assaulting a police officer or anyone else at that meeting? It’s not there because it never, ever happened. If the only people who were arrested were charged with these charges, then how would someone who allegedly hit an officer not be arrested and charged? How would a police officer have just let a person off for hitting him/her, and not for displaying a banner? This is complete nonsense for Gretchen to write. Lies, lies, lies.

And for blogger Julio Varela to congratulate Gretchen (when he knows that she can’t be objective) and to use her account as one that is objective and real is completely unfair, too.

And, may I add, that displaying a banner peacefully is called freedom of speech. The folks on the balcony did it peacefully.

The folks downstairs who never got to display their banner (separate incident, which happened later) did not storm down any aisles and they did not disrespect anyone. They were standing in line waiting to speak and were trying to unfurl the banner (silently) when the cops came and grabbed it. That’s unconstitutional. Period.

Dear JPLatina11, like we have said from Day 1, we have offered anyone who opposes Whole Foods in JP the opportunity to blog about it here on our page. Under this one very IMPORTANT condition: You need to use your own name and not hide behind a anonymous posting.

And by the way, JPLatina11, last time we checked, we are a personal blog, we aren’t The New York Times, but your comments flatter us nonetheless. At least people in JP care. Don’t ever lose that passion.

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A GUEST POST BY JP RESIDENT GRETCHEN VAN NESS

On Thursday June 2nd, 13 representatives of Whole Foods Market came to Jamaica Plain for their long-awaited meeting with the community. I met my neighbors on Cranston Street and we walked down to the Curley School together to hear what Whole Foods had to say. On the way, a brief, light summer shower broke out and a rainbow graced the sky over the Acapulco Restaurant.  I was filled with optimism about the evening. Now, finally, the community would come together, meet the people behind the Whole Foods name, get their questions answered, and finally, possibly, begin to move forward together.

As we approached the site of the meeting, however, I realized that our unexpected rainbow wasn’t about JP that evening. The broad steps of the Curley School were littered with people in blue t-shirts and boxes of blue t-shirts. A few people were handing out blue flyers.  It was the Whose Foods/Whose Community group that was formed in opposition to Whole Foods last winter. I recognized some faces from previous community meetings, but many of the young faces were new to me. A couple of people handed out yellow flyers that read, “Hyde Square and J.P. Welcomes Whole Foods” in English and Spanish.

I watched as people approached the building, confused about the array of blue stretched across the stairs. Some people walked away. But others bravely navigated the WF/WC obstacle course, and soon I followed them into the auditorium. Most people were seated and were waiting patiently for the meeting to start, but there was a flurry of WF/WC blue up and down the aisles and back and forth across the rear of the auditorium. There were police officers everywhere. On each of our seats was a reusable Whole Foods shopping bag with various brochures and a pre-paid postcard for sending food suggestions to the company.  Damn — we were hoping for cookies!

The meeting started with the Whole Foods folks introducing themselves. We met the mangers of the new store and many others, including Laura Derba, the current VP of the North Atlantic Region who started out working part-time at the salad bar. There was a brief PowerPoint presentation. Each speaker sounded upbeat, but one young woman’s voice wavered slightly. It was then that I realized how intimidating the auditorium must have looked to the people sitting in front of us. Someone in a blue t-shirt also picked up on this moment of weakness and shouted out an anti-Whole Foods comment. The presentation continued and the blue t-shirted folks all suddenly raised their blue flyers into the air. We looked around and couldn’t figure out what prompted the action until we saw two people photographing the crowd from the stage in front. An older couple a few rows down from us raised their Whole Foods shopping bags in the air, as they had apparently missed getting a yellow flyer at the door.

Then there was movement and sound above us. Two people were attempting to unfurl a banner from the balcony. It was upside down at first, but when they got it straightened out, we could read its message:  “Displacement:  What is Whole Foods Going To Do About It?” In all of the commotion that followed (this was when the first two arrests occurred and Chris Helms, editor of the JP Patch, almost got himself arrested, too, because he had chosen that moment to check out the view from the balcony), I remember thinking that this was the first anti-Whole Foods banner I’d seen that wasn’t also in Spanish and how strange that seemed. The people in the blue t-shirts were chanting “No Whole Foods! No Whole Foods!”

But the chanting died down and the meeting continued with the Q&A session. The first speaker was the Executive Director of the Hyde Square Task Force. He was very, very angry that the meeting was not being held in “Hyde Square” and accused Whole Foods of arrogance in having the meeting at the Curley School. Everyone around me sat in mystified and uncomfortable silence. Wasn’t this the organization that had just received a $8,500 donation from Whole Foods? Why wasn’t the Executive Director thanking Whole Foods for its support and telling the community how the money had been put to use? And we had just walked the few blocks from our homes in Hyde Square to a school attended by kids who live in Hyde Square where Whole Foods has donated a salad bar. What was wrong with meeting here?

As the speaker continued, at first one by one and then in larger numbers, people got up from their seats, walked quietly to the front of the auditorium, shook hands with and thanked each of the Whole Foods representatives, and left. The speaker never even paused. After he had far exceeded the allotted two minutes and hadn’t asked a question, some people in the audience started shouting, “Question? Question?”   I never heard one.

But subsequent speakers did have questions and Whole Foods had answers. Despite countless interruptions and chanting and name-calling, we learned a few things. That the JP store is considered a small store and that the parking lot holds 65 cars, which is sufficient for the store size. That Whole Foods has entered into a long-term lease with the MSPCA/Angell across the street for overflow parking; that they are hiring locally and expect most of their employees to get to work by foot, bicycle, or bus. That they are already in discussions with the city to improve and expand the bus stop in front of the store. That as soon as possible after the store opens and they can assess how the parking is working, they will make their lot available to neighboring businesses. That a complete delivery service will be available from day one. That they will have a trailer in the parking lot this summer where people can apply for jobs.

And that was about it. Although the police had earlier arrested the two people with the banner, they had not confiscated the banner. As one of the WF/WC members spoke, several people in blue t-shirts charged down the aisle, attempting to unfurl the banner again. The police were close behind and grabbed a corner of the banner. There was a brief tug-of-war, which the police won. As they retreated, a woman followed after the officers, hitting one of them repeatedly. Laura Derba then announced that the police were ending the meeting.

As we filed out of the auditorium, the blue t-shirted folks who remained started chanting “No Justice, no peace!  No justice, no peace!” On the steps outside, a young man called for people to march to Washington and Green Streets, where the police had taken the people they arrested. “Where is that?” several young people in blue t-shirts called out, as they entered the address in their smart phones. A few of my neighbors remained. As police cars converged on the Curley School from every direction, we started the walk home. I looked for the rainbow again. It was gone.

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The Whose Foods? organization has release a video about the June 2 Town Hall Meeting where 3 arrests were made and Boston Police shut down the meeting earlier due to disruption and interruption of residents’ comments.

As the Whose Foods? email we received tonight states:

Whole Foods’ packed Town Hall meeting on June 2nd at JP’s Curley School was met by a large presence of residents who continue to express their concerns and demands about the potential arrival of the store. The meeting marked the first official visit of Whole Foods to Jamaica Plain since the January announcement that the upscale grocery store would be taking over the Hi-Lo Foods space in Hyde Square.

In a statement on behalf of neighbors concerned about the planned store, Martha Rodriguez of Hyde Square asked Whole Foods: “We were promised a forum such as this one as soon as you had access to the store. You gained access and erected a fence in late March, but waited over two months to host this meeting at which the community is allotted a deplorable 30 minutes to speak. Is this your idea of being a good neighbor?” and “What are you going to do about the displacement of our families, friends, and neighbors…?”

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