Letter from Rossana Coto-Batres

Dear Honest Weight Food Co­Op Members,

During the recent weeks, there has been talk of the Board having a secret ‘agenda’ or ulterior motives for acting the way it did. I want to come out in the open and say, as a Board director, I do have an agenda and a vision for what I’d like to see at our co­op.

I’d like to see the co­op as a thriving community hub where people come to work in a supportive environment, buy their groceries and trust the source of their food, get specialty items to gift, attend one of the many classes offered by our members, and meet with friends for lunch at our cafe.

I want to see that everyone who contributes to our community has a voice in democratic decision­making as we further our mission, and that all members have a meaningful way of participating in our community.

I’d like to see my fellow Hispanic and immigrant friends feel welcome, no, INVITED to participate in all the co­op has to contribute. I’d like to see the many refugees in the area as some of our future staff, vendors, and fellow members and the co­op acting as a stepping stone for them to achieve their dreams. I’d like to see the community immediately surrounding the store start to see the co­op as a community resource for healthy food, nutrition education, jobs, social connection, and for those who can easily walk to the co­op to feel as included in the co­op as the longest commuting members are.

I dream of seeing an edible community garden, solar panels, the installation of a grey water system, a bike share program, and other initiatives at the store to make the co­op a leader in sustainability in the Capital Region.

I want to see continued support for all things local by turning the question around from “what can you provide to the co­op?” to “what can the co­op do for you?” I want to hear more stories of our staff and members, inspired by what they learn at the co­op, venture out to produce the best salsa, handmade beauty products, locally brewed beer, homeopathic and botanical remedies, vegetarian kimchi, bread and baked goods, and many more items, knowing that the co­op will accommodate providing to their growing customer base.

I hope to help create stronger relationships with local organizations to start innovative programs that further our mission and contribute to empowering various communities in the area. I want to see a refugee farm that utilizes individuals’ experience and expertise in agriculture to enable newly arrived refugees to provide for their families and contribute to the agricultural diversity in our region. I want to see the co­op do more to provide healthy lunches to school children, affordable meals to community members, and training programs for future food producers.

Most of all, I want to see an end to the analyzing and reanalyzing of the recent votes to retain or remove Board members, and other such conspiracy-­laden hypotheses about what the Board is doing or thinking in order to make a point. Instead, let us work together as we come out of this internal crisis and see the many opportunities we are presented with that enable us to contribute to our mission and our community.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to make a difference in our community.

Sincerely,

Rossana Coto­-Batres

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20 thoughts on “Letter from Rossana Coto-Batres

  1. Susan Longtin

    None of that will happen when the board sneaks around and takes a meeting with DOL without our lawyers. And I don’t mean the board’s lawyers. I’m very angry right now and wondering if it might be possible to sue the board.

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  2. snowbird109

    From what I read in this mornings email the “Board” did not attend the meeting with the DOL. Ursula Abrams from the GRC attended that meeting & I trust that she was open & honest.

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  3. Ron

    Sorry. You were only supported by 42% of the voters present at the Special Meeting. You took part in a video that was probably illegal. You stood by while another Board member was bullied. You voted yea on a vote that violated the by-laws. You, if you have any sense of what all this clearly means, need to resign. Or is power too much of an aphrodisiac?

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  4. I for one, have had tremendous respect for Rossanna before, during and after all of the stuff that has gone on over the past few months at the co-op — and I truly appreciate this post that she wrote. Thank you, Rossanna!

    I’m really grateful for everything that the petitioners did to recall the board and I am satisfied with the results of the vote. I am hopeful that the new board will find ways to work together, respectfully and cooperatively in the coming months. I am certainly not calling for the resignation of Rossanna — she has a lot to offer our co-op’s community — and everything that she said, particularly her points about diversity heed listening — and work on the part of the membership.

    Listen, I have a lot of concerns about what transpired in recent months on the board. It’s my opinion that the board members who made decisions that I believe were ill-advised and simply wrong, were doing what they were led to believe was the right thing. They seem to still believe that it was the right decision — and at the end of the day — we’re going to have differences of opinion. Let’s be respectful of each other and work together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Susan Longtin

      I don’t know, Leah. Part of me hopes that they were just lead astray, But part of me doesn’t think so. And much of this has been going on for years under our noses and we mostly didn’t know it.

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  5. Ron

    Rossana Cotes-Brates has not addressed any of the concerns expressed about her. She only got 42% of the vote. She got a vote of no confidence. She took part in a video that is likely illegal. She took part in the writing of a draft letter to the DoL that was sent by Dennis and shouldn’t have been. She stood by while a Board member was bullied by other Board members. She should resign immediately.

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  6. Ron

    As to Coto’s claims of conspiracy theories, well I have two words Bohemian Grove. We know from the CDS Consulting site and the NCGA site that both of these organisations have a long history of claiming, on the basis of no legal evidence, that member worker programmes are illegal. We know that UNFI, CDS Consulting, and the NCGA have played major roles in routinising coops, making them mirror images of each other. We know from the NCGA website that they consider us a “virtual branch store”. So Coto-Brate’s can play a demagogic game but the evidence is pointedly against her.

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  7. Leslie

    Rossanna, you have behaved in a shady and untrustworthy manner and I find your letter to be condescending and self righteous. You should resign.

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  8. Ron

    And it doesn’t say anything….Let’s call the he said, she said ohh it is a conspiracy theory bluff. Ms. Coto-Batres, have you or any other member of the Board at any time been advised by representatives of the National Cooperative Grocers Association, the National Cooperative Business Association, and CDS Consulting on any matter? If yes, what advice did they give you?

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  9. Rosanna please post the email you wrote to me here. Not sure why you wrote to me specifically as I clearly believe board members with no confidence votes should resign. And no my husband wont be stepping forward to advise the Board on labor issues. Seems to me there are too many attorneys involved already. Thank you, jules

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  10. Leslie

    Apparent Rossana prefers to discuss her “vision” rather than specify her actions or participation in recent events. A high percentage of members voted to remove her (just not quite enough), but her letter admonishes the Co-op community to move on. How do the many people who don’t trust you just move on Rossana?

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  11. Ron

    Let’s call the he said, she said ohh it is a conspiracy theory bluff. Ms. Coto-Batres, have you or any other member of the Board at any time been advised by representatives of the National Cooperative Grocers Association, the National Cooperative Business Association, and CDS Consulting on any matter or had interactions with them? If yes, what advice did they give you or what interactions did you have with them?

    I will take a lack of engagement with this question as a yes answer to the first question.

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