Thursday, September 12, 2013

'Biggest, Best WSM Annual Meeting Ever' - Sigh ...

The WSM employee Market Messenger reports today on the WSM Annual Meeting held this past Monday, using the above headline.

Well. I may be the lone voice (and, apparently, I'm not; but more of that in a moment). But I will continue. Weaver Street Market will not be a part of the New Economic Democracy extolled by the guest speaker at our Annual Meeting because we are a community-owned enterprise. Or because we just held the biggest, best Annual Meeting ever.

No. We will only become an essential contributor in the fight against a corporation-controlled economy as and when we become an authentic, community-CONTROLLED, co-operative enterprise. Which is different. And which we are not at the moment.

First, let me get the caveats out of the way. Ooh goody. 205 people attended. Great. What a shame they weren't given the opportunity to vote on anything. Votes. You remember those. Those are the sorts of things which occur among the general ownership in other community-controlled, co-operative enterprises. There are votes in WSM. But on essential strategic issues, they occur only in the office of the WSM General Manager.

There was loads of great, Food House-prepared, healthy food. My sincere thanks to the hard-working crew from the Food House. You guys and gals rock! But. Good food. Natural food. Even local food. Does not make us part of the bulwark against corporate office-controlled enterprises crashing our economy. It just makes us well-fed. Only democracy among owners makes us free of a few decision-makers devastating our livelihood.

I'm delighted Gar Alperovitz was present to preach the gospel of the New Economic Democracy. But whoever wrote the item for our Market Messenger has obviously not read Gar's book. Slap bang in the middle he declares, in unequivocal terms: it is not enough to be community-owned; you must be community-CONTROLLED. I have written at length how WSM is not.

Now apparently, this message is finally getting through. The WSM corporate office management team seem to think that the highlight of the Annual Meeting was their getting a speaker of Gar's caliber to cover the cracks of their own innate lack of democracy.

Nope. The highlight was the last questioner, who got the loudest applause of the evening for asking a question along exactly the lines I've been preaching. Namely, isn't it important for us to have community control? Along with the anonymous person who posted the Post-It on the Question Board asking if we could have more meaningful owner involvement. In our supposedly democratic co-operative.

Folks. There are too many of us who still think that being a co-op is about having local, natural food; dancing on the lawn; and a co-op fund that supports environmental issues.

No. Check our Mission Statement. Check the Definition and Principles of Co-operation, as determined by the International Co-operative Alliance. We are a co-op only if we make a stand for democratic control by our owners. Without the latter. We're another corporate-controlled enterprise. Just one with tattoo's and recycling bins.

But. Hey. A question and a Post-It is progress. Onwards ... !!