Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Food fight: Manitou's Local First Grocer battling internal tensions

Posted By on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Late last year and into the first part of 2014, we reported on the formation of Manitou's Local First Grocer, a food co-op laboriously organized by Elise Rothman d'Hauthuille

Recently, membership — divided into three tiers, at $60, $150 and $300 — has grown to around 150 people. 

Though there's been support and enthusiasm on the surface, what we're now told by Rothman d'Hauthuille is that the interim board of directors that she put in place while forming the co-op recently fired her as Local First Grocer's general manager (she does remain a co-op member). She's since largely been in the dark about goings on. 

Sadly, it appears to be one of those science fiction-esque scenarios where the object one creates turns on him or her and the real question of control and power is called forth. Not quite Terminator, but you get the idea.

According to Rothman d'Hauthuille, a group of around 20 members (composing a necessary 10 percent of membership) has petitioned for a special meeting to remove the interim board of directors and elect a new board. Ergo we have a potential fight brewing. 

Here's a flier for the event, to be held Monday, July 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Manitou's City Hall: LFG_Notice.pdf
The gist:
click to enlarge Screen_Shot_2014-07-15_at_5.18.45_PM.png

Rothman d'Hauthuille, in an email, said she'll "be at the Manitou Brewing Company on Sunday [the day prior] from 4 to 5:45 to answer questions members and other stakeholders may have. The BOD has been asked to make themselves available as well."

Yesterday, by phone, she wished to convey the following to the LFG and wider community:
The most important thing to me is that the board of directors of Local First represents the members. If the members vote in a new board and for whatever reason that new board doesn't want me involved, or wants my role limited, that'll be fine with me. But I don't think that any board that understands this model is going to want me out completely.

Reached for comment, president of board of directors Michelle Bennett said that at this time, due to ongoing discussions with legal counsel, she was not able to comment at length on the happenings. Though she was willing to say this: 
We're trying to pull the community back together and trying to make this as positive as we can. We want to make this a long-lasting, sustainable thing for the community. It's why we’re all here, involved and passionate about the project. It's not about any one person, it’s about the community. 

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