Comments by melissananda

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Posted on October 20 at 12:43 p.m.

i've been mulling over commenting on this... and i think it's important to respond. As has been since the day the co-op started, Board meetings are open to every member to come and engage. issues are discussed in an open forum, and decisions are made with transparency and authentic intention. members are always encouraged to attend meetings, and most choose not to. in the case of the equity change, no one attended any of our meetings and we made the decision as representatives of our members to do what we thought best for our co-op. it was on many agendas, and still no one came to meetings. even after the first phase of the change happened and old fully invested owners were upset, still no one came to meetings. democratic member control and economic participation are two requirements of a co-op to be successful, and the raise in equity is completely fair for the cooperative business model.

in fact, the current project to buy the building would be much easier if equity were raised again, and fully invested owners had the opportunity to invest more.. that's how most co-ops accomplish projects like this.. there seems to be a strange divide in our community about that component of our business model, though, as owners don't seem to want to invest more equity to maintain the health of our co-op (that was clear based on how people responded to the last equity change).. i find it confusing, because to me it's the most powerful mechanism of ownership and pride, and a distinguishing factor of our cooperative structure... anyway, that's my personal opinion. i'm happy to engage further about this, feel free to email me.

this particular project is being handled with total honesty and integrity, as have all projects that i've seen happen in my 9 years with the co-op. i'm blessed to be the general manager of this current generation of the isla vista food co-op, and i'm confident in my abilities as a leader to run project we own it in a legitimate way that allows our community to back a truly historic endeavor that has completely authentic and genuine intentions. i'm happy to talk with anyone about the process, and the website also explains that if we aren't successful, all pledges are returned.

i've dedicated the past 9 years of my life to this little co-op by the sea, and the thought that anyone in the community thinks that i run a business intertwined with "cheaters and welshers" really should come and look into my inspired, loving, and very tired co-op eyes and see how very wrong that statement is.

thanks for reading.

in cooperation,
melissa cohen
general manager
isla vista food co-op

On Co-op Gets Chance to Own Home

Posted on June 10 at 1:10 p.m.

i love the inspired idea to keep murals as part of our vibrant community, as well as to facilitate the process through building healthy relationships with property owners! just to note, though, that i don't think it's fair to claim that isla vista needs to have art and positivity brought back into the community... there's a whole lot of both of those things happening on a regular basis (including at showspaces like the BIKO garage, at Bean Night, at Last Thursday Artist Showcases at the IV Food Co-op, at all of the park festivals that have taken up most spring weekends in anis q'oyo park, at the circus practices in the park as well as at BIKO, the magic lantern, WORD magazine, the trigo guerilla garden.. just to name a few)... it seems like projects such as these would be even more successful and amazing if there could be more acknowledgement of the art and music that have been a part of the culture of isla vista since long ago... so i'm personally changing the opening sentence of this excellent story to read: "in an effort to put art and positivity at the forefront of the college community, where these alive and long-standing components of this vibrant town are often overlooked because of it's reputation..." i look forward to cruising around isla vista and seeing more of these beautiful murals adding even more color into our amazing community!

On Mural Unveiled in Isla Vista

Posted on November 22 at 9:57 p.m.

all hail nina lafuente.

On Vajazzling Is Befuddling

Posted on June 6 at 9:02 a.m.

here's one thing that i hope won't be next for you: don't stop writing! it's been really fun to read your musings throughout the year. congratulations and good luck on whatever comes next.

On The Thursday Paper

Posted on May 29 at 8:52 a.m.

the addition of this new house will be a huge HUGE benefit to the whole isla vista community! good work emily, etc!!

On New Student Housing Co-op Coming

Posted on May 29 at 8:50 a.m.

awesome! thanks for sharing, cat. the work that kim & seetha are doing, along with many inspired students, will be benefiting isla vista for a long time. i only wish that seetha would decide to stay for awhile longer!!

On UCSB Invading Isla Vista

Posted on February 20 at 8:25 a.m.

hi bird,
thanks for your thoughtful comment. we've been working really hard to bring in our hispanic community through many different outreach outlets. we have recently hired a full-time manager who is bilingual, and she works consistently during the day (and also happens to live within the hispanic community in isla vista). we are incredibly happy to now have a spanish-speaker on our staff who can answer questions (and we are currently starting work on a spanish-english natural food/lifestyle dictionary). we work with the neighborhood clinic as well (sponsoring their diabetes classes and hosting bilingual store tours whenever possible), and have been putting lots of effort into having a presence at the true "All community" festivals in IV that draw a presence from our hispanic community. we also are a huge resource for the IV elementary school and have presence at their latino student-parent nights (and host k/1 class tours regularly). we've actually seen a very positive response as a result of our outreach. i agree that we need to do more, and we plan to, and we are continuously happier with the increase in our shoppers from more of the community (mostly moms coming in the morning). as a side note, we've had a 1/2 page ad in our local edible magazine since the beginning, as we feel the importance of supporting this publication. this particular ad campaign was created not by the co-op but by a member-owner. we agreed to it (as a form of generating support in our community from the actual campaign) , but have been very hands-off (i completely agree with you, i feel that there are better uses of the co-ops own marketing budget). you'll see us around IV on our yellow trike handing out free produce and doing some other isla vista specific guerilla marketing (we've gotten known nationally for our marketing program). feel free to stop by the store anytime between 8-5 M-F and chat if you want to know more about what we are doing. i'd also love to hear more of you thoughts. thanks!
---melissa cohen
store manager/outreach/marketing education director/ housewares & bodycare buyer

On Save the Isla Vista Food Co-op

Posted on February 19 at 8:44 a.m.

well, i wasn't planning on commenting here, but i did want to add something really really important that was missing from this article, especially in light of these comments above. some people may not know that the co-op isn't just merely a local business, but is also owned by the community which it serves ("co-op" means cooperatively owned). being a cooperatively owned business means a whole lot of things, but first and foremost it means that not only is the business here as a resource for those who shop here -- everyone, not only our member-owners (rather than being motivated by making a profit that no one person would even keep as it would get redistributed to our 3,000+ owners in the form of discounts and a dividend), it is constantly, continuously, and 100% reinvesting into our local community through the very existence of the business. none of our shoppers' money leaves santa barbara, unless it's to pay for the goods in our store that we cannot source locally. the co-op is not a profitable business, as our operating expenses run about double of other co-ops our size (due to our high rent in our beautiful beachside isla vista location). luckily, we don't have to be terribly profitable, as there is no one person invested more than anyone else awaiting a huge payday (one of the most notable differences between cooperative and corporate ownership has to do with the structure of investment. for a co-op, one member/owner=one share=one vote.) we just have to make enough to pay our staff fairly, pay our bills, and keep the store in good condition... we have managed to accomplish this for the past 36 years. yes, our business has slowed (and to a point of concern due to recent events). yes, it would be amazing to see more people from outside isla vista joining our other long-time supporters and experiencing the magic of the iv food co-op. but no, we don't need you to save us. fortunately the community made the decision 36 years ago that the co-op would be an amazing resource, an amazing gathering space, and a mainstay of the community... and we are! i extend to everyone an invitation into our store, perhaps you'll also find a home, just as i did some years ago.

On Save the Isla Vista Food Co-op

Posted on December 23 at 4:14 p.m.

uccu-- it was those ucsb students who also opposed floatopia to the point that helped create a permanent ban of alcohol on isla vista beaches so that the catastrophe will never happen again. and those ucsb students who were out in full force right after the devastation, cleaning up the mess that many, many out-of-towners left on our beaches. and those ucsb students who started the facebook page to fight against floatopia 2. i watched an uprising post-floatopia, and it made me proud to be a gaucho alumni as well as a permenant isla vista resident... it's true that only a few bad apples can spoil a whole bunch, but let that not be your take on ucsb as a whole. there's more positive activism happening around these parts than in a long time, and this community is generally worth bragging about.

On Top 10 Reasons to Love Isla Vista

Posted on December 23 at 4:05 p.m.

rob would come to the co-op almost every day with his old dog endo... as rob would shop, endo would be waiting right outside the front door for him. i hope that endo is doing okay without his best friend to walk with him. rob, you are missed. every time i see your "get out and vote" poster that you knew would fit perfectly in the store i think of you! rest in peace. --melissa

On Rob Gibson: Lifeguard

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