Jul 132013
 
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As foreshadowed in an earlier article published here, the time has come for me to step down as Business Manager for the Cooperative. As I have also said on previous occasions, I am as unsuited to be a bookkeeper as I am to be a housekeeper, and the books need to be done. When they are, it will be seen that I have conducted all activities honestly and openly and at all times, in my opinion, in the best interests of the Coop and the Membership, and I leave the Coop with its full potential intact, to grow at whatever rate and in whatever fashion the majority sees fit, with several significant assets in place that will become profit centers over time, should the Coop choose to take advantage of them.

The redesigned log inoculation system; spawn tables, caulking gun compatible spawn recipe, wax disk and heat gun sealing method, etc. represents a significant advance 1spawntableover older methods, encompasses several potential independently marketable product lines and will significantly reduce labor costs and physical stress for bulk log inoculation, meaning higher returns and fewer injuries over time. The Myco-balm brand and product line also represent a significant near and long-term income stream for the Coop and I will continue to provide technical assistance to those members wishing to pursue this potential. beeborne1In addition, the several graphic properties including the physical brand design, logos and labels are items that, again, if properly applied in the marketplace, represent substantial contributions to the enduring success of the Coop, along with the website and the research, writing and outreach embodied there.

It is unfortunate that we were unable to secure all of our first batch of logs before  summer shut down the woods (and not for lack of trying), but should the new Business Manger choose, the door is open to secure long term supplies for this fall and beyond through the Usal Forest restoration project, as well as whatever other sources are developed, and to complete our first round of log inoculation when forest conditions permit new harvesting. I will continue as a contributing and investing Member, and will use the facilities soon to be at my disposal to support ongoing Coop inoculation efforts within the operational and fiscal constraints of a new private venture that I have entered into with an outside investor.

About a month ago I was contacted by a person, originally from the Bay Area and now resident in New York who expressed strong interest in working together to build up an industrial scale business based primarily on mycelial structural materials. Assessing this person’s character, capacities and intent  has occupied 95% of my time and attention in the interim because, to my mind at least, we will achieve the goals expressed repeatedly in many of the other articles here, much more quickly and effectively the more resources; financial, technical and personal that we bring to bear.

In discussing this with my supervising Board Member and others it has become abundantly clear that, at this time the Coop per se is unprepared, unwilling even, at several levels, to take full advantage of what I see as the golden opportunity presented by this individual. From where I sit, it would be an enormous waste of an unexpected and really significant potential to simply say to him “Thanks for your interest, but sorry, no New York money wanted, we want to stay small”.  I have therefore agreed with this gentleman to form a private company here, founded on exactly the same principles of sustainability and stewardship as are expressed throughout my previous writing.

Together, we will establish an initially modest R&D facility here in Willits to verify processes and create samples of a range of specific products in the ‘polystyrene replacement’ sphere. Our long term goal is to build up a significant industrial capacity in this domain, based on local physical resources, including labor, raw materials and clean, responsible renewable energy. Our intention is not to compete with the Coop, but to build out over the next few years a model enterprise that will serve as a test-bed and a real world demonstration and development platform for an industrial scale structural mycology business of regional, national and perhaps even global significance. In working towards that goal I hope to be able to provide products and services such as bulk spawn, on a reasonable cost-plus basis, that benefit the Coop and enhance its capacities and I will continue to participate in the Coop within the limits imposed by my new workload.

Having paid last month’s utilities and this month’s office  rent out of my own pocket, I have informed the landlord here that I will be vacating the office at the end of July to establish the R&D shop. I will make all inventory, passwords and other relevant information and documents available to the Board and am very pleased to hand over responsibilities to whomever is designated by the Membership to fill my current role. I leave to pursue exactly the same goals as I have been pursuing all along,  confident that this new opportunity will be beneficial not just to me personally and the out of state investor(s), but over time, to the Membership, the Coop, the Community and to the region, or I would not be doing it at all. As the Coop becomes more effectively organized, perhaps more willing to entertain the idea of outside capital, and the business horizons of the Members and the Board broaden naturally over time I hope that some of the contacts I build through this new enterprise will come to see the Coop and other Member businesses too as potential partners.

As I look forward to working together with this investor, and with the Coop and Members to make a real difference for the better here, in real time, I also look forward to regular meals, sleeping in a bed, frequent showers, and most fundamentally, the opportunity, resources and decision making scope necessary to make these big ideas real. And, I look back at the last year of extremely hard and dedicated work with a completely clear conscience, great satisfaction at having begun something meaningful and in full confidence that the Coop will continue to grow and mature at its own pace, unruffled by the immediate opportunity discussed above.

So, farewell but not goodbye, this resignation is effective immediately.

Larry Buzbee

May 082013
 
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At 4pm on May 19th there will be a general meeting of the membership at the Little Lake Grange, 291 School St, Willits from 4-6 pm to discuss status and progress and any other issues members may wish to have included on the agenda. Please RSVP in the comments section below and include any suggestions regarding proposed agenda items, format of the meting, etc.

This meeting is being held in response to requests from various members. This post will be updated as new information becomes available.

May 082013
 

DF WallaceThe choices he talks about are exactly the ones we are making when we choose to be the founders of this organization.

We choose not to do things the way we have been, to associate ourselves, and our resources in a way that is uncommon, even extra-ordinary. This is a cooperative, conscious choice by all of us to, to some small extent, join our fortunes together in a venture whose outcome is uncertain. Not everybody has the grit to take a decision like that. Mr. Wallace puts it very well in describing the raw reality of making conscious, courageous decisions like the ones we have taken together as Founders. It’s a commencement speech, so please forgive the context, but I think that what he says is true for every one.

gi’ it a whirl then maites …

‘Plain old untrendy troubles and emotions’

The Guardian,

David Foster Wallace, who died last week, was the most brilliant American writer of his generation. In this speech…..,  he reflects on the difficulties of daily life and ‘making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head’

David Foster Wallace;

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

If you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explaining what water is, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The immediate point of the fish story is that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude – but the fact is that, in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have life-or-death importance. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. So let’s get concrete …

A huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. Here’s one example of the utter wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute centre of the universe, the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely talk about this sort of natural, basic self-centredness, because it’s so socially repulsive, but it’s pretty much the same for all of us, deep down. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you’ve had that you were not at the absolute centre of. The world as you experience it is right there in front of you, or behind you, to the left or right of you, on your TV, or your monitor, or whatever. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real – you get the idea. But please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to preach to you about compassion or other-directedness or the so-called “virtues”. This is not a matter of virtue – it’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting, which is to be deeply and literally self-centred, and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.

By way of example, let’s say it’s an average day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging job, and you work hard for nine or ten hours, and at the end of the day you’re tired, and you’re stressed out, and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for a couple of hours and then hit the rack early because you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there’s no food at home – you haven’t had time to shop this week, because of your challenging job – and so now, after work, you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It’s the end of the workday, and the traffic’s very bad, so getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it’s the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping, and the store’s hideously, fluorescently lit, and infused with soul-killing Muzak or corporate pop, and it’s pretty much the last place you want to be, but you can’t just get in and quickly out: you have to wander all over the huge, overlit store’s crowded aisles to find the stuff you want, and you have to manoeuvre your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts, and of course there are also the glacially slow old people and the spacey people and the kids who all block the aisle and you have to grit your teeth and try to be polite as you ask them to let you by, and eventually, finally, you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren’t enough checkout lanes open even though it’s the end-of-the-day rush, so the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating, but you can’t take your fury out on the frantic lady working the register.

Anyway, you finally get to the checkout line’s front, and pay for your food, and wait to get your cheque or card authenticated by a machine, and then get told to “Have a nice day” in a voice that is the absolute voice of death, and then you have to take your creepy flimsy plastic bags of groceries in your cart through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and try to load the bags in your car in such a way that everything doesn’t fall out of the bags and roll around in the trunk on the way home, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive rush-hour traffic, etc, etc.

The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing comes in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m going to be pissed and miserable every time I have to food-shop, because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me, about my hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem, for all the world, like everybody else is just in my way, and who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem here in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line, and look at how deeply unfair this is: I’ve worked really hard all day and I’m starved and tired and I can’t even get home to eat and unwind because of all these stupid goddamn people.

Or if I’m in a more socially conscious form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic jam being angry and disgusted at all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUVs and Hummers and V12 pickup trucks burning their wasteful, selfish, 40-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers, who are usually talking on cell phones as they cut people off in order to get just 20 stupid feet ahead in a traffic jam, and I can think about how our children’s children will despise us for wasting all the future’s fuel and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and disgusting we all are, and how it all just sucks …

If I choose to think this way, fine, lots of us do – except that thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic it doesn’t have to be a choice. Thinking this way is my natural default setting. It’s the automatic, unconscious way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the centre of the world and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities. The thing is that there are obviously different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stuck and idling in my way: it’s not impossible that some of these people in SUVs have been in horrible car accidents in the past and now find driving so traumatic that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive; or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to rush to the hospital, and he’s in a much bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am – it is actually I who am in his way.

Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you’re “supposed to” think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it, because it’s hard, it takes will and mental effort, and if you’re like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat-out won’t want to. But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her little child in the checkout line – maybe she’s not usually like this; maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of her husband who’s dying of bone cancer, or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the Motor Vehicles Dept who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a nightmarish red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible – it just depends on what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important – if you want to operate on your default setting – then you, like me, will not consider possibilities that aren’t pointless and annoying. But if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars – compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff’s necessarily true: the only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship – be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles – is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things – if they are where you tap real meaning in life – then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already – it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness. Worship power – you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart – you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.

The insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the “rat race” – the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn’t sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational. What it is, so far as I can see, is the truth with a whole lot of rhetorical bullshit pared away. Obviously, you can think of it whatever you wish. But please don’t dismiss it as some finger-wagging Dr Laura sermon. None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death. The capital-T Truth is about life before death. It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head. It is about simple awareness – awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: “This is water, this is water.”

· Adapted from the commencement speech the author gave to a graduating class at Kenyon College, Ohio

In answer to the question posed in the title, I propose the following answer;

You’re soaking in it, Madge.

May 062013
 

There will be a BeeBorn Myco-Balm sales meeting 7:30 PM at the Coop office at 330 B S. Main St. Willits, Tuesday May 7th. All interested Members and their guests are invited to come on down and let’s talk marketing materials and strategies.

On Wednesday the 8th, I’ll be here from 5:30 onwards to ofer training in website usage; transaction recording, publishing and whatever else folks need to talk about.

Please RSVP in the comments below.

May 042013
 
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The past two weeks may have seemed like everything has come to a screeching halt. As far as inoculation goes it has. However, a lot has been going on behind the scenes and here’s a brief synopsis to keep you all informed.

  1. Development of more efficient inoculation procedures and materials
    1. A new wax formulation with optimum properties for application via caulking gun has been developed with very favorable characteristics. I will produce enough for the rest of our spring inoculation this coming week.
    2. The new caulking gun spawn material is showing good results. Further testing is underway but all indications at present are that this will be successful and provide an very significant increase in efficiency.
    3. We have a bid of $400 from a provider in Santa Rosa to cut our all the parts and the tabletops for our two new inoculation tables. The large casters, all 32 of them are here, and I’ve put a great deal of thought into questioning my assumptions about the appropriateness of this design and the associated expenditure. In addition to the sum above we will need to purchase some 2×4′s, all-thread, screws, nuts and glue for about $150 more for a total of $550. I strongly believe that the increased efficiency and worker safety achieved by minimizing strenuous handling, rolling the logs from station to station and rolling them at a comfortable height while drilling and plugging will far outweigh the cost. Moreover these table will last for years, are easily transported to member locations and may turn out to be a marketable product in and of themselves.
    4. Several experiments at further propagating our old Shiitake and Reshi spawn onto new sawdust have been quite successful as well, ensuring that we will have sufficient supply in hand next week when we’ll make the first large batch of the new spawn material, for application the following week or soon thereafter in the final big push. We’ll post up the date when all the prep is done and we can make a firm commitment.
  2. Bee Born Skin Care Products, our first spin-off has a sales force, an enthusiastic and very receptive batch of clients ready to purchase the product, and numerous samples out, being used and developing quite a buzz. We will be having the first sales and development meeting next week here at the office and in addition to members, we sill have some professional cosmetologists, and other personal service professionals to evaluate the product, talk about marketing materials and strategies, consumer preferences all in prepartation for pushing this product out into the market place post haste.
  3. Ryan LaPorte will be selling Reishi vases to the coffee shop whose grounds he’s collecting, pre-marketing the mushrooms we’ll grow off the grounds and the products, like the Bee Born balms that are derived from or related to the mushrooms. In addition, we will be producing small sample quantities of Chaga and Candycap extract for testing as a coffee ‘enhancer’ by the eydropper full at the same coffee shops.

We’ve been fighting the battle of year zero, our first and rather ambitious inoculation campaign with brave hearts but blunt instruments. While this pause has no doubt been frustrating for many, I remain convinced that refining and streamlining the process will pay off handsomely, both now and, especially, as we continue to up our production capacity in the coming months and years. The mushrooms don’t much care when they get into the logs, just that they do, and that they will. But there’s no sense breaking our backs at it if, with some planning and preparation we can do it faster, better, cheaper and easier.

 

May 012013
 

YES! Magazine’s May Day Panel on the Cooperatives Movement – AnyMeeting | Free Web Conferencing, Webcast and Meeting Service.

Here’s a very rough transcript with tons of links. I’ll dress this up a bit later.

 

We have Laura Flanders of GRITtv and the Laura Flanders Show, Ted Howard of the Democracy Collaborative, Omar Freilla of the Green Worker Cooperatives, Eric Bowman of the Northwest Cooperative Development Center, and Mike Beall of the National Cooperative Business Association.

 

NCMFC to the Panel

 

Our major strategic need is for professional assistance in building our ‘funding stack’ and then successfully implementing its components, from grants to private funding. We are a 501(c)16 with a current five year base capital reinvestment commitment of $100k and broad support in the community. We have a detaild development plan and very significant regional growth potential. We would sincerely appreciate any reccomendations regarding this type of technical assistance.

 

Antony McMullen from Australia

 

The issue of worker co-ops surviving that you raise Laura are addressed in a great paper by MIT CoLab http://web.mit.edu/colab/pdf/papers/Sustainable_Economic_Democracy.pdf it is a bit of a ‘Bible’ for http://earthworkercooperative.com/ (and hello Adrian from Melbourne too!)

 

Eric Bowman

 

Northwest Cooperative Development Association …

 

Green Worker Cooperatves: www.greenworker.coop

 

29000 Co-ops in the US

 

A Co-Op to be launched: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eco-Buyers-Green-Business-Ventura/200675406611516

 

Cleveland’s Worker-Owned Boom” by Ted Howard (& others): http://bit.ly/ZWR00I

 

Hello all! Kind regards from Canada! Thanks to YES! Magazine for putting this together. Up here in Ontario, we have a fun resource for raising coop awareness in local high schools: http://www.ontario.coop/programs_services/lifelong_coop_learning/all_4_each_coops_in_the_classroom We’ve had lots of coops/credit unions sponsor the unit as part of their youth egagement strategies. Just an FYI!

 

Great resources and toolboxes at www.usworker.coop

 

Mike Beall National Cooperative Business Association

 

Very difficult funding …. Credit Uniion sector virtually untapped for Coop funding … big opportunity.

 

Coop Business Associations like the CoC Lots of polkitical work to do to raise the profile of Coops

 

Startup v expansion … more financing than it appears

 

re: funding sources, individuals can invest in local businesses through Community Sourced Capital in Seattle http://www.communitysourcedcapital.com/

 

http://www.cooperativegrocer.coop/articles/2013-04-11/time-recycle-cooperative-wealth

 

Just want to mention that we have been providing training programs on how to start cooperatives:The Art & Science of Starting a Cooperative EnterpriseSessions One, Two & Threesince 1997.I’ve attached the program info, FYI We deliver the program at cost and bring some of the best co-op developers from across the country to share lessons-learn. The program includes lectures, interactive sessions, case studies of existing co-ops and tours to local co-ops to talk directly with stakeholders.  Many of our co-op leader today, such as Eric Bowman, have been through our program.For more info visitcooperationworks.coopor email me — Audrey MalanCooperationWorks! Training Programs307-655-9162[ mailto:cw@vcn.com ]cw@vcn.com[ http://www.cooperationworks.coop

 

you’re looking to suport and tap into organizing efforts seeking to strengthen youth engagement and employment with/in the cooperative movement, check out the USA Cooperative Youth Council: www.facebook.com/USACYC

 

www.campaign.coop

 

Community Development Finance Institutions. www.trfund.com The Reinvestment Fund.

Community-wealth.org New film Shift Change (Shifchange.org) excellent film for discussion of coops.

If your in a rural area you qualify for free help from any RCDG center: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_Coop_Resources.html

Cooperative Development foundation www.cdf.coop is a 501 c3 that helps co-ops

www.cdsconsulting.coop helps co-ops start and grow

Strengthening Local Independent Coops Everywhere www.slice.coop in the Seattle area.

You can also sign up to receive our newsletter at http://www.yesmagazine.org/whatcounts/signup.php

create events – using a film or powerpoint – do a “media event”, invite the press

Some positive movement on the Federal level.

 

 

May 012013
 
Listen to the Chef. These are the folks who we need to reach out to, because they understand and value our product AND our production methods and principles. Let HIM tell you why ours is a wise and profitable business plan on many levels.
Dan Barber: How I fell in love with a fish | Video on TED.com
www.ted.com
Chef Dan Barber squares off with a dilemma facing many chefs today: how to keep fish on the menu. With impeccable research and deadpan humor, he chronicles his pursuit of a sustainable fish he could love, and the foodie’s honeymoon he’s enjoyed since discovering an outrageously delicious fish raised…
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